Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2021-01-05

A Very Red Life: The Story of Bill Walsh

Document type Book
Series Editor Canadian Committee on Labour History
Author Gonick, Cy
Publisher Canadian Committee on Labour History; St. John's, Nfld
Date 2001
ISBN 1894000056
Pages 300 p., ill.


Montreal-born Moishe Wolofsky was a nineteen year-old unemployed university drop-out in 1930 when he and his friend Dick Steele took a job aboard an ocean vessel, beginning a journey that would change his life forever. Out of money, they stumbled into Russia and took jobs in a tractor factory. There, they became dedicated communists. Dragged back to Canada by his father, the well-known Jewish publisher, Herschel Wolofsky, he soon began a career as an organizer for the Communist Party of Canada. By then Moishe Wolofsky had become Bill Walsh. Still a very young man, he led the drive to organize the rubber workers in Kitchener and subsequently the auto workers in Windsor. Jailed and interned along with several hundred other Communists, upon his release Walsh fought overseas in Holland and Belgium. After the war he took a staff position with the United Electrical Workers in Hamilton, a job he retained for over two decades. After years of conflict with UE President C.S. Jackson, Walsh was forced to quit his job and subsequently the Communist Party. In the late 60s, he began a new career in labour arbitration. This is the story of how a young idealist became a Red and helped build industrial unionism in Canada. But it is also a story of romance and adventure. Walsh actively participated in many of the 20th century's historic events. Everything he did was touched with an intensity. He was a brilliant strategist and an extraordinary teacher. Because he never held high office either in politics, in uniform, or in any of the unions he was associated with, his contributions have gone unheralded. This book provides an inside, bottom-up look at some of the most important episodes in our trade union history as well as an insight into the functioning of a venerable communist-led union. --Publisher's description


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