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Women, Garment Production, and Unions: History and Historiography The story of Winnipeg's garment industry begins in the 1880s.

At that time, the prairie boom town's economy was rooted in the production, processing, shipping, and storing of grain and agricultural products; the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) soon fuelled the growth of other industries.

Opportunities to participate politically in the urban public sphere were often limited for the many Eastern European immigrant women who arrived in Canada during the first half of the twentieth century.

Labour organization, however, represented one site in which immigrant women could publicly confront socio-economic inequalities.

Despite these representational shifts, however, both the radical, Communist IUNTW and the bureaucratic ILGWU functioned as sites of interaction between immigrant garment workers and their adopted societies.

This paper thus seeks to contribute to ongoing conversations in labour historiography in three ways: first, by examining the ways in which strikes and labour demonstrations operated both as spaces of immigrant resistance to Anglo-Canadian institutions and assimilative pressures and as sites of accommodation to North American culture and politics; second, by exploring how shifting protest tactics, from radical to conservative, affected the most marginalized of industrial workers--immigrant women; and third, by recognizing the diversity of working women's experiences and by highlighting the value of analyzing ethnic women's radicalism within culturally particular terms.

The garment industry was one of the few spheres in which female immigrants could obtain employment in Winnipeg's discriminatory and paternalistic economy.

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La facon dont ces femmes grevistes se sont accommodees et ont resiste a la societe canadienne a egalement ete affectee par leurs representations anglo-canadiennes, l'evolution des tactiques syndicales--de radicales a conservatrices--et par des constructions sociales de genre, d'ethnicite et de classe.During the early 1930s a militant Communist-led union, the Industrial Union of Needle Trades Workers (IUNTW), dominated garment workers' activism, and the needle trades witnessed a series of explosive strikes that enabled women to participate in workplace negotiations.After 1935, however, the more bureaucratically organized International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) took command of labour organization, steered workers away from radicalism, and pacified female activism.Prominent Winnipeggers feared the government and CPR were more interested in settling the Northwest Territories than in bringing newcomers to Manitoba and embarked on their own effort to attract immigrants.

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As historian Doug Smith notes, the actions of all three levels of government and the CPR infuriated Winnipeg's labour movement, which interpreted these efforts to recruit immigrant labourers as an exploitative, bourgeois tactic to create a surplus labour pool, depress wages, and obstruct working-class activism.These women strikers' accommodation and resistance to Canadian society was also affected by Anglo Canadians' representations of them, by shifting unionization tactics--from radical to conservative--and by social constructions of gender, ethnicity, and class.