Alfred Charpentier

Alfred Charpentier, labour leader (b at Montréal 25 Nov 1888; d there 13 Nov 1982). Working as a bricklayer 1905-15, he became president of the International Union of Bricklayers in 1911.

Charpentier, Alfred

Alfred Charpentier, labour leader (b at Montréal 25 Nov 1888; d there 13 Nov 1982). Working as a bricklayer 1905-15, he became president of the International Union of Bricklayers in 1911. In 1916 he turned towards the Catholic union movement, which was slowly being created by several clerics led by Fathers Joseph-Papin Archambault and Maxime Fortin during and after WWI. Charpentier's union experience helped define the primary role of Catholic unions as one of defending the professional interests of the workers. Several thousand French Canadian workers belonging to national unions subsequently reorganized themselves as Catholic unions. With their constitution largely written by Charpentier, 80 Catholic unions created the Confédération des travailleurs catholiques du Canada (CTCC) in 1921. Charpentier was its president 1935-46.

A tireless advocate of Catholic social thought, he fought for improvements to Québec's antiquated labour legislation and for the creation of a Conseil supérieur du travail and a system of courts to resolve labour disputes. After stepping down in 1946, he wrote extensively on labour issues and published his memoirs, Cinquante ans d'action ouvrière (1971).