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.”