Kate Braid

From the blog

Red Bait! Struggles of a Mine Mill Local

Written with Al King.

Al King was an organizer, Local 480 (Trail, British Columbia) president and eventually western Board member of the International Union of Mine-Mill & Smelterworkers, a trade union that was – depending on your point of view – a Communist hotbed or one of the most progressive unions in North American history. He tells a fascinating story, unrecorded elsewhere, of the growth and challenges to Mine-Mill from 1937 when he got his first job as a labourer at Consolidated Mining (now Cominco) in British Columbia, to the time when the union voted to merge with the Steelworkers Union and beyond.

“We had known they were planning to do something but this was astounding. Following the raiding actions, John Gordon…called a big meeting in the Legion Hall to decide what to do. When I left to go to the meeting Lillian said to me, ‘Please be careful.’ She knew feelings were running high and she was worried about fist fights.

“The usual turnout for a union meeting was twenty or thirty men but that night 600 showed up, many of them young veterans. There were so many, they couldn’t all fit in the hall. They filled up the building and overflowed outside, down the steps and into the street. When we saw those numbers, we knew we had a chance.”

Book Details

Book Title:  Red Bait! Struggles of a Mine Mill Local

Book Type:  Non-fiction autobiography of Al King

Published:  Kingbird Publishing, 1998

ISBN:  0-9683768-0-0

In Print?:  Yes

Available From:  Contact Kate Braid directly using the Contact form on this site.

Description:  Written with Al King. A feisty, first-person, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes funny story of organizing the Mine-Mill union in British Columbia and Western Canada in the 1930s through the terrible Red Scare days until the ‘70s and merger with the Steelworkers’ Union.

Reviews

“A totally absorbing memoir of a union life in Canada….. Red Bait! is not just the product of Al’s amazing memory for detail and his story-telling talent. It is also the result of first-rate editing, revising and organizing by labour-historian and poet Kate Braid.”
- D. Mackenzie, Steel Labour/CALM. Reprinted in the Canadian Association of University Teachers’ Bulletin

“With colourful language and nearly unbridled passion, Al King shows the reader just how rough and ready the world [of industrial unionism from the 1930s to the 1970s] could be…. This may not be history, but it’s a pretty sure bet that it won’t be ignored by historians when the social context of trade unionism is discussed.”
- David Roth, BC Studies

“An intriguing memoir of one man’s struggle to improve working conditions at Consolidated Mining’s (now Cominco’s) smelter in Trail, BC…. Not much is sacred, and this irreverent tone makes for a generally lively read.”
- The Northern Miner

“Anyone who is interested in an insider view of the Mine Mill union movement of British Columbia, would be well advised to consult this insightful publication.”
- BC Historical News