BAGGALEY, JOSEPH, bricklayer and trade union leader; b. c. 1884 in England; m. with four children; d. 19 Oct. 1918 in Regina.
Joseph Baggaley came to Regina with his family in 1911. He was part of a wave of immigration that arrived from Great Britain in search of jobs and a new life on the prairies. There was a construction boom in Regina between 1910 and 1913, and people who chose the city as their destination were probably responding to advertisements by employers and the Board of Trade about the plentiful work in the local building trades and other industries. Many of these immigrants soon became aware, however, that the availability of employment was subject not only to the cyclical nature of the wheat economy but also to the seasonal variation of the prairie climate.
Baggaley brought with him his “cultural baggage” of trade unionism. He accordingly joined Local 1 of the Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers’ International Union of America, and took part in its activities and strikes. The local had been organized in 1906 with a membership of 130, but its first strike had not occurred until 1910. Although Saskatchewan was strike free in 1911, the following year it experienced a wave of walk-outs. Baggaley’s union fought two of the fourteen strikes. The first began on 7 June after the employer refused the union’s demand that the task of washing brickwork to prepare it for tuckpointing be done by skilled bricklayers, paid at union wage rates. One hundred and seventy-five bricklayers stayed out until 16 June; they returned to work on the condition that tradesmen would continue to do the pointing but labourers would conduct the washing operation. The second strike broke out on 26 September after the Builders’ Exchange refused union demands for an increase in wages to 70 cents an hour and improved working conditions. One hundred and fifty bricklayers and masons remained off the job until 18 October, when the employer finally agreed to their demands. The only other strike that Baggaley’s union fought started on 12 June 1913. Ten bricklayers at R. J. Lecky Company walked out when the employer tried to engage unskilled labour in laying flooring. The dispute came to an end ten days later with a victory for the union.
Throughout World War I and until 1919, the local engaged in no further strike action. During this period it underwent changes in leadership. In 1915 Joseph Baggaley was elected president, replacing the incumbent, George Alley, who filled the position of recording secretary. Baggaley subsequently was re-elected and remained president until 1918.
During his presidency, the local, along with the other Regina unions, faced a number of problems, including the high cost of living, unemployment, campaigns to establish the open shop, and hostile employers. But the most important issue, which aroused mixed emotions in the labour movement, was the drive for military registration and conscription in 1916–17. The Regina Trades and Labour Council held a meeting on 3 Jan. 1917 to formulate a statement of its position. After lengthy debate, a motion was passed outlining its objection to the conscription of labour without the conscription of wealth. There was also a call for a pro-labour body to replace the government of Prime Minister Sir Robert Laird Borden*.
Baggaley died of pneumonia in October 1918, at a time when the bricklayers’ union was involved in a lobbying campaign to obtain employment for its members. In an act of solidarity and a demonstration of their esteem for their former president, the bricklayers booked off from work and attended the funeral en masse. The obituary in the Regina Morning Leader called Baggaley “one of the leading union men of the city” and remarked that “the labor organizations of Regina have sustained a heavy loss.” He was survived by his wife and children.
City of Regina Arch., Cemetery records, COR-49, file no.1. Saskatchewan Arch. Board (Regina), R-137 (Regina Trades and Labour Council), file nos.I (minutes, 1911–18), III (general corr., 1913–18). Morning Leader (Regina), 1910–18. Can., Dept. of Labour, Economics and research branch, Annual report on labour organization in Canada (Ottawa), 1916–19. Labour Gazette (Ottawa), 10 (1909–10)–19 (1919). Sask., Dept. of Agriculture, Bureau of labour, Annual report (Regina), 1911–1919/20.