Robert Hugh Carlin

Robert Hugh Carlin, trade unionist (b at Buckingham, Qué 10 Feb 1901; d at Kirkland Lake, Ont 1991). In 1916 he moved to COBALT, Ontario, to work in the mines.

Carlin, Robert Hugh

Robert Hugh Carlin, trade unionist (b at Buckingham, Qué 10 Feb 1901; d at Kirkland Lake, Ont 1991). In 1916 he moved to COBALT, Ontario, to work in the mines. He joined the miners' local union, which was part of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM), briefly met roving organizers of the ONE BIG UNION after World War I, participated in the 1919 strike in Cobalt and Kirkland Lake and joined the WFM's successor, the International Union of Mine Mill and Smelter Workers (Mine Mill). A founding member of Kirkland Lake Local 240, he was fired for union activity in 1940, but Mine Mill hired him as a union organizer. In 1941 he was one of the leaders of the historic Kirkland Lake gold miners' strike for union recognition, which was unsuccessful but influenced the eventual passage of COLLECTIVE BARGAINING legislation in Canada in 1944. In 1942 Carlin was elected to the union's international board to represent the Canadian District, and he worked tirelessly to achieve union certification in the Northern Ontario mines by the late 1940s.

An advocate of political action by labour, Carlin was elected CO-OPERATIVE COMMONWEALTH FEDERATION (CCF) MPP in Ontario in 1943 and 1945. He was defeated in 1948 after a disagreement with his party, which viewed him as procommunist. As an executive member of the CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS (CCL), he served at this time on the Congress's Political Action Committee, which was engaged in intense debates about the future political direction of the labour movement and experienced conflicts, especially between supporters of the CCF and the Labour Progressive Party (LPP), a renamed communist party. In 1962, after the Steelworkers' Union defeated Mine Mill in a jurisdictional battle and became the bargaining agent at Inco, Carlin continued his union work as a Steelworkers' representative until his retirement in the 1970s. He was a vigorous, optimistic and dedicated trade union leader to the end.