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Brock unveils plaque honouring early union supporters in Niagara

Posted by jeff on Apr 3rd, 2014 and filed under Gallery, Top stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Larry Savage and Ingrid Makus at Wednesday's plaque unveiling

Yesterday, Brock unveiled a new plaque recognizing the significant contributions that local union members made to the University’s Founding Fund from 1965 to 1970.

The plaque, which is located on the 300-level of Mackenzie Chown where blocks B and C meet, was proposed by Brock’s Centre for Labour Studies as part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

“This plaque commemorates the contributions of unions and the labour movement to the very foundation of Brock University,” said Ingrid Makus, acting dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, at yesterday’s event. “This group of supporters was one of the first to provide voluntary financial contributions to the founding of the University.”

Labour unions played a key role in organizing voluntary payroll deduction in work sites across Niagara in support of the early growth and development of the University.

“On Jan. 22, 1965, more than 100 union leaders and activists from the region were invited to a dinner hosted by the University’s Founders Committee,” said Larry Savage, director, Centre for Labour Studies at Brock. “At that meeting they voted unanimously to encourage their members to donate a day’s pay per year for the next five years to contribute to the founding fund of the University.”

Organized labour in Niagara set itself a goal of $1-million, but, by 1970, had surpassed this target, having raised more than $1.4 million for the Founding Fund. This amount represented almost a quarter of the total amount raised by the Founders Committee.

“Imagine that,” said Savage. “And those are 1970s dollars, so that’s a much bigger donation by today’s standards.”

This year also marks a significant anniversary for Brock’s Centre for Labour Studies, which is celebrating its 25 anniversary.

“Labour Studies takes seriously what Brock is known for now, interdisciplinary research and teaching, and community engagement among faculty, students and staff,” said Makus.

The new plaque reads: This plaque is dedicated to the thousands of union members in Niagara who donated a day’s pay each year, for the five years between 1965 and 1970, to the Brock University Founding Fund.

“The plaque is very important because most students don’t know about this history, and surprisingly most faculty and staff don’t know about this history,” said Savage.

“Those past generations of working men and women did not make this contribution for themselves. They did it for their children and grandchildren because they understood what it meant to build community and build education for future generations.”

Workers at McKinnon Industries — a subsidiary of General Motors (GM) — contributed to Brock University’s Founding Fund (Special Collections and Archives, Brock University)

Workers at McKinnon Industries — a subsidiary of General Motors (GM) — contributed to Brock University’s Founding Fund (Special Collections and Archives, Brock University)

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