Clips from BC Labour Heritage Centre oral history interviews, 2018.
Larry Kuehn (President, BC Teachers’ Federation) [00:00:00] Operation Solidarity was a strictly a coalition of the B.C. Fed and every other union, including the, the CCU, the Canadian alternative to the Canadian Labour Congress. And the BCTF was, was invited to be a part of it, and we were. I was on the steering committee of Operation Solidarity, and it met on a frequent basis, dealing with the kind of strategic issues of how we were going to oppose the government and the actions that would be taken by by the labour movement as a whole in opposition to the, the all of the bills that have been brought in by the Bennett Government.
Cliff Andstein (Chief Negotiator, BC Government Employees Union) [00:00:49] Whatever the founding meeting was, we had this group of senior people in the unions and we got to call ourselves something. Well, how about Solidarity Committee? So we’ll just be the Solidarity Committee, and that later spun into Operation Solidarity, which involves a lot of other unions. You know, PPWC, CAIMAW, other non, non-Fed affiliates. Became a more formal operation and a group of people who were generally fighting back.
Ken Novakowski (Bargaining Staff, BC Teachers’ Federation) [00:01:22] So I actually got to go to the founding meeting of Operation Solidarity, which was very exciting and, and unbelievable in terms of the kind of solidarity that we were beginning to see early in this development. Unions coming together and saying yes or throwing a hat into this Operation Solidarity, and they were used to fighting against each other. And here they were together, all speaking the same line essentially because, because they, they saw that they had a very important common enemy and also groups like teachers and nurses and organizations that traditionally were not in the labour movement at that time came forward and joined in this. The Teamsters, who were just on the outside all the time, they were, they became part of what was happening. Everybody joined in and took part. So it was very, very exciting.
Rod Mickleburgh (Labour Reporter) [00:02:19] And away it went, and the mood out there was, it was angry but it was also kind of boisterous and, and they enjoyed… I mean, there was disgruntlement. That, to see, you know, these bitter rivals from the independent Canadian unions that, of course, had been raiding affiliates from the B.C. Federation of Labour and very, very bitter. There’s nothing more bitter than in a raid. But I remember Jess Succamore from CAIMAW coming out of that meeting, he said, “You know, we have never been more united and we’re all together on this. We’re going to put aside our our enmities and past,” and, and you know, “We all have to get together to, to, to support the fight back and we’re, we’re totally onside”.