|Journal||Journal of Women's History|
A 1964 strike by women workers in Dunnville, Ontario provides an exceptional perspective on the complex ways in which class, gender, and ethnicity unite in the construction of identity. The women strikers drew on left-wing traditions of feisty femininity to claim an identity as real workers and authentic unionists while also embracing multi-ethnic identities that distinguished them from the Anglo-Celtic middle class. Their claims to authenticity challenged pervasive assumptions, including those of their union brothers, who defined labor militancy as implicitly male and distorted memories of the strike. Yet the limits on the women's own constructions of these identities are evident in their inability to perceive the Native women who scabbed during the strike as workers. By contrasting the ways in which identity was claimed, assigned, and contested by different groups of workers, this story problematizes categories of identity that are often used uncritically in labor history.