The roots of Local 506 can be traced back to 1903 when a charter was issued by the Head Office for Local 1 of the General Labourers Union. It’s growth was limited to the commercial sector of the construction industry. The local disbanded in 1917, its membership had gone overseas to fight WWI. When World War II began and again its membership went overseas to fight, this time Local 506 was able to survive.
On November 14, 1919. a group of Labourers founded Local 506 under the banner of the Hod Carriers’ Building and Common Laborers’ Union. Following World War II, organized labour experienced a rebirth and membership grew. Construction jobs were plentiful, and unionized Labourers began to see their wages increase and their standard of living improve. The demand for new housing, schools, hospitals and churches created a boom for the Labourers.
The 1920’s roared along, fueled by a mining boom that saw Bay Street turned into a veritable gold-rush alley where everyone was pushing something hot. The Great Depression followed, inflicting a 30% unemployment rate in 1933. The only distraction from its bleakness was the opening of Maple Leaf Gardens in 1931, one of the first big projects involving LiUNA Local 506 members.
In the 50’s and 60’s new immigrants arrived from Italy and in the 60’s and 70’s an influx of immigrants from Portugal changed the ethnic composition of Local 506. In the 1980’s and 90’s new immigrants from Poland, Africa and South America joined the multicultural ranks of our Union. It can proudly be said that Local 506 is now one of the most multicultural Unions in North America. Gone, but not forgotten, are the first generations of members from Ireland and Scotland who were the pioneers of the Local.
From about 140 founding members, LiUNA Local 506 has extended to its’ current membership of more than 8.000. Our members are resilient and versatile, branching out in different fields representing a wide range of workers across Ontario. More mergers and organizing have brought other sectors from:
We will continue to organize and diversify in order to establish more opportunities for our members and increase financial stability for our Local.