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Happy Birthday, Local 517!

We're 52!

On January 27, 1965 the 120-member Vancouver Harbour Employees' Association joined the ILWU to officially become Local 517. Among its members were the first women to join the ILWU, which at that time was still known as the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union.

Originally certified by the government as a bargaining agent for its members in 1943, the Vancouver Harbour Employees' Association had previously functioned as a small independent union local.

The employees of what was then the National Harbours Board (and today the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority) were joined in 1975 by employees of Westshore Terminals and Squamish Terminals, in 1980 by employees of Fraser Surrey Docks, in 1990 by employees of the Nanaimo Port Authority, and most recently in 2012 by employees of the Port Alberni Port Authority.

Whereas in 1965 Local 517 had about 10 female members (or just under 1% of its membership), today we have about 150 (almost 53%).

As with most of our events, we celebrated with food. Thanks for sharing in our cake on Thursday!

Click on the photo below to read more about how our local got its start, in the February 5, 1965 issue of The Dispatcher.

Margaret McDougall, 'Lady Longshoreman' (1965)

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