2014 Conference

Download a PDF of the 2014 PNLHA Conference Program and Registration Form

PNLHA 2014 Conference Schedule Released

The Local Organizing Committee has endorsed the following schedule of workshops and presentations. We are confident that the conference presenters will open some eyes and provide impetus for stimulating debate. There is something for everyone in the 23 different presentations. Combine this with the unique experience of Miners Memorial Weekend in Cumberland BC  you have a great weekend for every attendee..

Sat. June 14 8:45-10:00AM

OAP Hall- Roger Stonebanks ‘ Ginger Goodwin:Facts Matter’ and panel on Ginger Goodwin
Cultural Centre- Roberta Hunte ‘ My walk has never been average’
Abbey- Mike Keelan and Steve Harvey  ‘Reds in the Union’, and Tom McCarthy ‘Radical Leaders in the Wash. CIO’
Masons Hall- BC Teachers Federation  ‘Teaching the History and Experiences of Working People in BC’

10:15- 11:30 AM

OAP Hall- Joey Hartman and Jim Sinclair ’70 Years of Attacks on the Public Sector’
Cultural C- Elizabeth Quinlan ‘Herstories of MMSWU during the Cold War’, and Ron Verzuh ‘Harvey Murphy of MMSWU 1930-1960′
Abbey- Diggers ‘ Labour History in Song’, and Dunc Shields ‘ Stories of the Ginger Goodwin Legacy’
Masons- Maria Dunn and Doug Bouzek ‘ GWG: Piece by Piece – From Story to Song- Oral History and the Video Ballad’

On Sat. Museum

8:45 Ron Verzuh ‘Joe Hill and Rossland Miners Hall’
9:15 Jim Williams ‘Rock Reject- the Story of Cassiar Miners’
10:15 Lionel Youst ‘ Coos Bay, Centralia and Wesley Everet.’

12:45- 1:30 Plenary on Aboriginal Coalminers on Vancouver Island with Wedlidi Speck and John Lutz

Sun. June 15 9:00- 10:30AM

OAP Hall- Barbara Byrd, Irene Lazinger, Joe Uehlein and William Brucher  panel on  ‘Environment and Labour- a History of the Pacific Northwest and BC’
Cultural C- John Price ‘Diversifying Labour History- the Wilmer H Gold photos’ and Video ‘Bamboo and Cedar’
Abbey- Joey Hartman ‘Bread and Roses’ , and Re-sisters ‘Women and Labour Songs’
Masons- Mark McDermot ‘Winning Big in Hard Times’


OAP Hall- Bill Friesen and Ed Varney ‘Mayworks murals banners, flags and puppets’ and Matt Rader ‘ Rhymes with History’
Cultural C- Peter Johnson ‘The Chinese Labour Corps’ and Kirsten McAllister ‘Forced Labour in the Wartime Economy’
Abbey- Ben Isitt ‘Miners, Managers and Magistrates’ and Alvin Finkel ‘ The Impact on WWI on Organizing’ and Mark Grueter ‘URW’
Masons- CUPW ‘History of the Postal Bank’

On Sunday Museum

9:00AM Karen Langenmaier ‘History of WCB’
10:00AM Chris Stift ‘ Organizing Aramark’
10:45AM Mining Justice Alliance

We will post a fuller description of each presentation and each presenters bio under  the Conferences page but just from this you can see the array of topics and issues that will be part of the 2014 conference. The presenters are from Vancouver Island, including the Comox Valley, and from Oregon ,Washington, Vancouver , Edmonton and Saskatoon and Halifax..

Registration will be through the Cumberland Museum http://www.cumberlandmuseum.ca and will be up and running by mid February. Brochures will also be sent out.with info about registration, prices of tickets, transportation etc

We are looking forward to welcoming you to Cumberland and to a great conference!

Deadline passes with 35 Presentations Received

The deadline for making applications closed on Dec. 13th and we have received 35 applications for presentations. The content committee is reviewing them presently and should have a draft program ready by mid January. The Local Organizing Committee will endorse, or alter, the schedule. A call for registration will go out by the end of January for the June 13-15 conference. Registration can be done online through the Cumberland Museum or via postal service. Details will be forthcoming.

In the meantime you can register with the Conferences official hotel The Best Western Westerly in Courtenay ,BC. Unfortunately it is not a unionized hotel but there are none on the Island from north of Nanaimo to Campbell River. However we feel it will meet your needs.. .Best Western ad

We are also working on information on historical sites and museums off island attendees may want to visit during their stay as there is a lot of labour history on Vancouver Island , from Victoria’s Royal BC Museum to the ‘quirky’ Sointula Museum on Malcolm Island.

Upcoming PNLHA Conferences

2014 Labor History Conference

Pacific Northwest Labour History Association Annual Conference

Call for Presentations, Workshops, and Papers

Cumberland, British Columbia, 

June 13-15, 2014

The 44th Annual Conference of the Pacific Northwest Labour History Association (PNLHA) takes place in the historic village of Cumberland, B.C., June 13-15, 2014. The conference is held in conjunction with Cumberland’s own Miners Memorial Weekend, which commemorates the thousands of miners who were killed and injured in the coal fields of Vancouver Island, while celebrating the spirit of resistance of labour leaders like Ginger Goodwin and Joe Naylor.

The PNLHA Conference is hosted by the Cumberland Historical Society (Cumberland Museum) and sponsored by the Campbell River, Courtenay and District Labour Council, and of course the PNLHA.

Cumberland’s colorful and rich history dovetails nicely with the theme of the conference – “Mining Our Past: Conflict and Solidarity in a Resource Economy.” As an old coal-mining town where immigrants from across Europe, Japan, China, and the USA came to make a life, Cumberland is typical of the hundreds of small towns and villages that sprang up in the Canadian and American West in the exploitive rush for minerals, fish and timber.  That rush led to many conflicts along with many great acts of solidarity. The local PNLHA committee is seeking proposals for workshops and presentations that both illuminate the past and help us learn how to organize and mobilize for the future.

Coal mining in Cumberland began in the 1880s with the Union Colliery Company, owned by the Dunsmuir family who were rabidly anti-union. Cumberland’s diverse workers found themselves in a very exploitative and dangerous workplace. This led to a struggle for a union; a goal that was not achieved until the 1930s. The miners of Cumberland were part of the Big Strike of 1912-14. Cumberland was also the home of Ginger Goodwin, a labour organizer who was shot in 1918 by special police for draft  dodging, and home also to Joe Naylor- a major mover for the One Big Union. The last mine closed in the 1960s with many workers shifting to jobs in

An important thematic thread within the conference is “Indigenous Workers, a Hidden History. It is our goal to feature presentations around the role of Indigenous workers in the resource economy over the past 200 years, and the past and present relationship between Indigenous workers and labour unions. Given the increased awareness of the historical and systematic racism Indigenous people faced, and still face, many people are unaware of the important work First Nations did in the economic growth of the USA and in Canada. Papers and presentations illuminating this area would be most welcome.

Another important thematic thread we wish to feature is the evolving role of women over time in boom-and-bust towns. From the frontier towns of the 1880s, to the industrial cities of the 20s, to the company towns of the 50s, how did unions react to the growing “feminization of the workforce”?

Other areas of interest from the organizing committee include:

The First World War began 100 years ago in Europe. What effect does the political atmosphere of war time have on working people and their struggle for economic and political justice? How did the nationalism of that period impact international solidarity building, and what lessons are applicable to the 21st Century?

Art, whether music, poetry or visual arts, is often treated as a luxury or a marginal part of the political life of trade unions and activists. What role has art played in past struggles, and how can we use music, poetry and visual arts today in reaching the rank and file?

From Wisconsin to British Columbia to Europe, public sector unions are under an unprecedented attack on their very existence. What have we learnt over the past 70 years of building public sector union organizations, and how can this knowledge be used to fend off these assaults?

Digital and social media are powerful tools for engagement. How can union activists best utilize these tools to reach union members and the general public with their stories?

The 44th Annual Conference of the PNLHA will be a rich and illuminating (and I daresay unique!) three or four days in a perfect setting, where history is alive and respected.

Below are details for submissions. We look forward to hearing from you.

Proposals for workshops and presentations should include:

1. A 1 to 2 page summary of your workshop or presentation
2. Presenter(s) name(s) and contact information
3. A short bio and vitae of presenter(s)
4. The approximate time required for workshop or presentation
5. Audio / Visual requirements

Although there is no guarantee, we will attempt to fit your presentation in. Acceptance is based on relevance to the theme and topics outlined above, and scheduling considerations.

The deadline for proposals is December 13, 2013. We will notify you as to the status of your proposal

Submit your proposals via e-mail to Brian Charlton, for the Local Organizing Committee at:


Download a PDF Flyer of the Call_For_Papers