New Demands?
Performance, Montreal, Quebec
Photo: Jessica Hébert
The English translation for this placard is "We Demand a Fair Wage". The dressmakers demanded — and won — fair pay as a result of the 1937 Strikes, and working conditions in the industry continued to improve through the first half of the 20th century. Along with New York City, Montréal was one of the centers of garment production in North America until the 1980s, when production began to shift overseas under international free trade agreements and economic deregulation. Today only a fraction of Montreal's manufacturing industry remains, and most jobs in the garment industry are held by immigrant workers earning low wages. Conditions for garment workers world wide are among the most precarious in the world, and many of the rights fought for in 1937 — for a regulated work week, paid vacation, health benefits, and the right to unionize — have yet to be achieved.
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