Articles

Should We Kick Hal Banks Out of Canada?

His rivals call him a dictator who blacklists his union enemies. Some politicians say he’s an alien racketeer. He claims he’s just a tough trouble shooter who drove the Reds off Canadian ships and got his seamen a better deal. Here’s the story of Canada’s most controversial union boss

SIDNEY KATZ February 15 1955
Articles

Should We Kick Hal Banks Out of Canada?

His rivals call him a dictator who blacklists his union enemies. Some politicians say he’s an alien racketeer. He claims he’s just a tough trouble shooter who drove the Reds off Canadian ships and got his seamen a better deal. Here’s the story of Canada’s most controversial union boss

SIDNEY KATZ February 15 1955

Should We Kick Hal Banks Out of Canada?

His rivals call him a dictator who blacklists his union enemies. Some politicians say he’s an alien racketeer. He claims he’s just a tough trouble shooter who drove the Reds off Canadian ships and got his seamen a better deal. Here’s the story of Canada’s most controversial union boss

Articles

SIDNEY KATZ

MOST UNION leaders in Canada are sober, hardworking citizens who go through life attracting little public attention. When a labor-management crisis forces them into the national limelight, their main aim is to get the business over with as quickly as possible and return to their former anonymity.

A notable exception to this rule is a brawny 44-year-old giant named Harold Chamberlain Banks. Formerly an engineering student, messboy, deck hand, ship’s carpenter and convict, Banks is today head of the Seafarers’ International Union (Canadian District), an organization of 9,000 lake and deep-sea sailors whose headquarters is in Montreal. Banks himself is a U. S. citizen who has been in this country barely five years. Despite this factand the smallness of his union he is one of the most controversial

continued on next two pages

Black eyes, billies and bludgeons marked the beginnings of the Hal Banks regime in the S

figures dominating Canada’s labor field today.

“I don’t need to hire a publicity agent,” says Banks. “People are always writing and talking about me anyway.”

The most hotly debated issue about Banks is whether or not he has a right to be in Canada at all. This subject has already been discussed in the House of Commons nine times by three cabinet ministers, by the leader of the Opposition and by half a dozen lesser MPs. The Opposition believes that Banks should be deported as an undesirable alien; the Government thinks he should stay. The bare facts of the case are these:

When Banks crossed the border into Canada in 1949 he already had a criminal record in the United States. Because of this, says the parliamentary Opposition, he should have been turned back. In 1952, the RCMP raided Banks’ home and found 36,000 American cigarettes hidden in the basement. He was later convicted of being in possession of smuggled cigarettes. The Opposition charges that these were sufficient grounds for promptly shipping Banks back to his native San Francisco. But the Government granted him permanent residence. By May 1957, Banks will be free to apply for his Canadian citizenship papers.

The Government disagrees with Opposition Leader George Drew’s view that “It. is unlikely that Banks will ever make a good Canadian citizen,” so much that when a board of enquiry recommended Banks’ deportation in June 1954, the recommendation was not acted on by Walter Harris, then Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

The Government contends that there is nothing mysterious or sinister about Banks’ entry into Canada. It points out that for some years before he was admitted his record was clean. As for the

smuggling charge in Montreal in 1952, Harris says, “We haven’t deported people for offenses of that nature.”

The Opposition plans to bring the matter up in the House again.

Many people speak well of Banks. Percy Bengough, until recently head of the Trades and Labor Congress, says, “He’s done a real job for his boys. The sailors have never been better off.” Mel Angus, president of Lunham and Moore, a shipping company in Montreal, recalls that when Banks entered Canada in 1949 our shipping was in a state of chaos because of the Communist-led Canadian Seamen’s Union (CSU). “He threw out the Commies and got the ships sailing again,” says Angus.

Banks himself is not reluctant to talk about his much-discussed criminal record. “It sounds a lot worse than it actually is,” he explains.

“Somebody was out to get me”

Here are the charges that Banks has faced and his own comment thereon:

1. On February 5, 1930, in Long Beach, California, Banks was convicted of issuing a bad cheque. He received suspended sentence and was put on three years probation.

(Banks: “Sure I wrote a bum cheque. That was during the Depression and a lot of people were doing it.”)

2. In September 1930, in Los Angeles, he was sentenced for writing an NSF cheque. Because he was on probation at the time of the offense he was sentenced to fourteen years in San Quentin Penitentiary.

(Banks: “I wrote a cheque for fourteen dollars and before I could get the money in the bank, I was reported. Somebody was oui to get me. At the time, I was with the union and we were having a tough fight over getting control of the oil tankers on the Pacific coast. I was sentenced to fourteen years in San Quentin, starting in 1930. After serving three and a half years, I was given a rehabilitation certificate by Governor Earl Warren, released from prison, and then pardoned.”)

3. In June 1942, in San Bernardino, Calif., Banks was charged with child stealing. The charge

was either withdrawn or dismissed after a hearing.

(Banks: “My former wife and I had an argument and she took our child and went home to her mother. I got lonesome so I went to my in-laws’ place when my wife was out and took my kid home for a while. My mother-in-law had it in for me so she raised a holler and went running to the police. That’s all there is to that.”)

4. In December, 1947, at Richmond, Calif., Banks was charged as an ex-convict with being in possession of firearms. The charge was dismissed, but. on a charge of disturbing the peace he was convicted and fined $20 or ten days. The fine was paid.

(Banks: “At the time, I was one of twelve tenants living in an apartment house. The place was under rent control but we found out that the landlady was overcharging us. We formed a committee and complained to the rental board. When we came home at six the next night we found that the landlady had locked us out. A bunch of us went around and knocked at her door. She peeked out and slammed the door in our faces.

(“The next thing we know, the sirens are blowing and the police come running in. The landlady is yelling, ‘They’ve got guns and they’re trying to mob me.’ This was pure bunk. The only gun in the building was a hundred-year-old antique that stood over my mantelpiece. It was rusted and didn’t even have a trigger. The next day in police station, the charge of being in possession of firearms was thrown out. The police advised us to plead guilty to disturbing the peace. If we hadn’t, a lot of our time would have been wasted and we’d have had to pay at least $50 in lawyers’ fees. So we pleaded guilty.”)

5. In May, 1949, in Montreal, he was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. The charge was dismissed.

(Banks: “The Commies went and told the police that I went around armed to the teeth. Their lawyer swore out a warrant for me. But they couldn’t prove anything. Heck, you can swear out a warrant against anybody for anything! Proving it is something else.”)

6. In April 1952, Banks was charged in Montreal with being in possession of 36,000 smuggled cigarettes. He was convicted and fined $200.

(Banks: “A fellow came to my house with these cigarettes and offered them for sale. I bought them.

ut when he drove out the Red-led CSU he blossomed out with a Cadillac and a luxury home.

That was a mistake. They weren’t for resale—I planned to smoke some and give the rest away. I was framed in this deal. A ‘friend’ of mine who drank my liquor in my home and smoked my cigarettes, tipped off the RCMP. They came at 2 a.m. and asked, ‘Do you have a supply of American cigarettes here?’ I said it looked as if they were tipped off so they might as well go and get them. They went down to the exact corner of the basement where I kept them.

(“I’m not saying it’s right but everyone smokes smuggled cigarettes. I was in a lawyer’s office the next day and he says, ‘You must be short of smokes

now so take some of mine,’ and he offers me a few packs of smuggled smokes. Later that day, I noticed that a member of the RCMP had a halfsmoked pack of American cigarettes on his desk. And out in the corridor of the same building everybody was smoking the same.”)

7. In January 1954, in Montreal, Banks was charged with intimidation by Byron Ryan, an associate of one of his bitterest enemies in the SIU.

(Banks: “It was a false charge. He never even showed up in court. This fellow claims I drove up in my car and pointed a gun at him as he was walking along the street. Why I’ve never had a gun in my

automobile in my life! Ryan couldn’t have been very frightened of me. It took him a few months to make out the warrant against me.”)

Banks’ history and present place of residence are by no means the only controversial aspects of his career. He has been accused of running his union like a ruthless iron-fisted dictator. It is claimed that he has gotten rid of union members that have criticized him by putting their names on a blacklist known as the DNS or Do Not Ship list. Once a man’s name appears on this list he is barred from sailing out of virtually every port in North America.

John Droeger, a

Now disgruntled members of his own union want him to pack up and go back to the States.

Continued on page 42

Hal Banks

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 13

29-year-old SIU member, claims that Banks “has only substituted his own dictatorship for a Communist one.”

Droeger is perhaps the most troublesome of all Banks’ foes. In 1952 he began asking aloud a lot of embarrassing questions about the SIU. He charged there were no regular meetings, no constitution, no strict accounting for expenditures, no election of officers, no fair trial before a member was put on the DNS list and expelled. Droeger was tagged as “an agitator” and put on the DNS list himself. When he persisted in protesting his expulsion to Banks personally, he was ejected from the union hall. Droeger thereupon haled Banks into the District of Montreal Superior Court and Justice Frederick Collins ordered Droeger reinstated.

In spite of the court order Banks insists that he has used the DNS list only to “get rid of Commies, perverts, thieves and winos.” He claims it made possible the SIU win over the Communist-led Canadian Seamen’s Union in 1949.

Droeger is not the only man on the waterfront who holds sharp opinions about Banks. Captain Herbert McMaster, who heads the rival United Mine Workers Mariners’ Division, has his walls plastered with posters describing Banks as “a foreign anti-labor vulture” and “a money-hungry racketeer.”

But Banks has some solid achievement to show for his stay in Canada. When the SIU headquarters in San Francisco handed the Canadian District over to him in 1949, the district was dying on its feet. It had only seven hundred members and fifteen thousand dollars in debts. The powerful CSU dominated Canadian shipping.

Under Banks’ leadership SIU membership in Canada has climbed from seven hundred to nine thousand and the hopelessly mismanaged CSU has been wiped out. Present assets of the SIU total $750,000, with an estimated $500,000 rolling into the union coffers each year.

A good deal of additional criticism of Banks centres on his standard of living. He drives a new Cadillac and lives in the fashionable Montreal suburb of Pointe Claire. Banks claims he manages all this on his $12,000 salary. “I spend every cent of it,” he says.

And he points out that if he lives with a measure of style, so does his union. The SIU in Vancouver used to meet in a dingy walk-up room so ill-equipped that members had to use a washroom in a Chinese laundry four doors up the street. Banks changed all that. Most ports today have SIU halls that are comfortable and some are almost luxurious. The Montreal hall on St. James Street West is his prize exhibit. There a sailor just off a boat can shave, take a shower, shine his shoes, get a haircut and wash and press his clothes.

“Remember,” says Banks, “when these fellows blow into town the lieutenant-governor doesn’t invite them over. It’s our job to make them comfortable.”

Most Canadian seamen are comfortable but, Banks’ foes point out austerely, there aren’t nearly so many of them as there used to be. When he arrived in Canada in 1949 the country

had more than a hundred ocean-going vessels; soaring costs have now forced all but a dozen shipowners to transfer their vessels to United Kingdom registry. But Jack Fisher, secretary of the Canadian Shipowners’ Association, says that blaming Banks’ persistent demand for higher pay for his sailors for the demise of the deep-sea fleet is an oversimplification.

Banks claims he does not find criticism altogether distasteful. “I’m no first-trip mess boy,” he says. “All publicity is good—even the bad stuff. My name’s in the paper any number of times. The membership laps it up. They figure I’m a going concern.”

The nerve centre of the SIU is Banks’ office on the third floor of the Montreal union hall. It’s about twentyfive feet square, contains wall-to-wall beige broadloom and is liberally scattered with chrome-and-leather furniture. Banks sits behind a sixteen-foot circular Hollywood-style executive desk. “Only costs $90,” he insists, “it’s made of plywood.” A battery of phones and push buttons enables him to keep in touch with key personnel in his offices or at the waterfront. His three telephone-equipped union patrol cars are required to check with the office every hour.

His Henchmen Sat and Waited

Recently, I spent a few days watching Banks at work. He’s a friendly man with a broad face and gravelly voice, six feet tall and two hundred pounds. His right hand is laced with scars, the result of a knife fight with a drug-crazed Filipino seaman. A permanent lump adorns the side of his forehead, memento of a bloody fracas on the Pacific coast. He has a bullet crease on his right hip, acquired in April 1949, while driving along the Montreal waterfront in a union Buick. He was caught in a cross fire of revolver shots. This was when the SIU was locked in a life-and-death struggle with the CSU.

“I knew you were writing a story about me as soon as you did yourself,” Banks told me proudly. He listed the people I had interviewed in Montreal and the questions I had asked them. “I’ve got ways of getting information,” he said. We were seldom alone. As a rule, at least one of his henchmen—R. J. (Red) McLaughlin, Paul Gagne, Mike Sheehan or John Boyzcum—sat quietly at the back of the room as we talked.

Banks gets up at six in the morning and hurries to his office. He contends that he has to because running a sailors’ union is tougher than any other branch of labor work. “Our men are at sea most of the time. They’re away from home, alone. They’ve got to feel that somebody loves them and is looking after them. That’s where we come in.”

When the seamen are ashore probably half the jobs that Banks and his aides do for them have nothing to do with their working conditions. A landlord has locked a sailor out of his room and won’t give him his radio and clothes. (“I phone and explain that the reason he raised hell the night before was that he’s been at sea for two months and can’t hold his beer. I ask him to give the boy his stuff back and he’ll leave quietly.”) A sailor’s wife runs away with another man and he wants to know what he can do about it. (“We can put him

4*Fm no first-trip mess boy,” said Banks. “Fm in the papers. Fm a going eoncerr ”

in touch with a good lawyer.”)

But attending to sailors’ complaints is the union’s principal job. Working conditions for seamen have improved tremendously in the past fifteen years. Under the terms of a typical lakes shipping agreement, sailors receive anywhere from $186 a month (for a porter) to $290 (for a cook). This is for a five-day, forty-hour working week. They are now entitled to two weeks vacation with pay, statutory holidays, extra pay for overtime and for handling such cargoes as dynamite and raw manure. The shipowner must provide seamen with comfortable bunks, clean sheets and pillow slips, dishes made of crockery or plastic, and the same quality of food as is served to the officers.

The most frequent cause of conflict is overtime pay. “Some stewards are poor organizers and can’t get thenwork done without overtime,” says Banks. “Shipowners raise hell at extra labor costs so the stewards may try to chisel our men. At nine o’clock at night, for example, a steward may suddenly remember that he’s forgotten to have the next day’s supply of meat removed from the freezer. So he has to put a man to work at overtime for a few hours. It’ll look bad for him on paper with the head office, so he doesn’t put it down, hoping the sailor will forget. The sailor doesn’t forget and that’s where the trouble begins.”

The fact that most people who deal with him either admire or hate Hal Banks makes it difficult to piece together an objective account of his career. Banks himself says he was born in Waterloo, Iowa, in 1910. At nineteen, lack of funds forced him to quit studying engineering at the University of California and go to sea. He says that about 1930 he became interested in waterfront unionism through a meeting with Harry Lundeberg, now president of the SIU. “I was Lundeberg’s trouble shooter working out of San Francisco,” Banks says. “I was doing fine. I didn’t want to come to Canada when I was called in 1949. But there was a job to do.”

Chaos on the Canadian waterfront paved the way for Banks’ entry into Canada. Within twelve months the Communist-led CSU had called sixtysix strikes and work stoppages, most of them illegal. By 1949, both the shipowners and the Trades and Labor Congress (which had expelled the CSU for its unabashed Communist policies) decided that the waterfront situation had become critical and the time had come to act.

Acting jointly, the two groups decided that the SIU should be the successor to the CSU. There were then only seven hundred SIU members in Canada but they were backed by a strong U. S. organization with a membership of seventy thousand.

Banks moved in on his job fast and hard. A period of open warfare between the CSU and the SIU ensued, marked by bloody noses, cracked skulls and gunshot wounds. “Practically everybody was a casualty,” Banks says now.

But SIU seamen gave as many blows as they received. Once the CSU hung up a huge photograph of Banks in its Montreal hall on Inspector Street so that members could easily spot him. Banks walked into the hall one night, ambled up to the picture and commented: “It’s lousy. I’ll send you a

decent one.” His surprised enemies watched him walk out unscathed.

He denounced most of the officials of his own union as “deadwood” and fired them. Within a few months —thanks to the careful groundwork laid by the SIU and the TLC—he won a hundred and fifty-seven CSU crews.

Between 1949 and 1951, Banks

and the shipowners had a honeymoon. There were no strikes or lockouts. Ships sailed on time and were kept sailing. Negotiating a contract became a simple matter.

Banks claims he was able to supply reliable crews only by making use of the much criticized Do Not Ship list. “I found all kinds of guys that should never set foot on board a ship,” he says. “There were Commie agitators, epileptics, sleepwalkers, perverts, drunks and thieves. The Commies would ship anybody in their CSU. They didn’t mind drunks or crooks.

They preferred them. They’re easy to control since nobody else will give them a job.”

By 1951, many SIU members felt that the time had come for Hal Banks to go back home to San Francisco. He had been sent to Canada with unlimited powers to set the Canadian District on its feet. He had succeeded. But between 1949 and 1951 there had been no meetings, no election of officers, no constitution. After some urging, Banks held a Canadian District convention in Montreal in January 1951. It was attended by twenty-seven dele-

gates, all picked by Banks. In spite of this the delegates went on record as favoring an autonomous democratic Canadian SIU.

There was growing alarm at Banks’ strong-arm methods. Members who criticized him were put on the DNS list after being labeled as “Reds” or being accused of disloyalty to the SIU. This happened to some of the oldest SIU members. Jimmy Todd had been a member of the original SIU executive and partially responsible for bringing Banks to Canada. In June 1952, Todd was surprised to find that he had been

fired and put on the DNS list for planning a protest strike among the crews of two ships. Todd denied the charge and when he called on Banks to demand an explanation, he was denied admittance. Two registered letters to Banks asking for a hearing before union members went unanswered.

Besides the placement of men unlawfully on the DNS list, Jimmy Todd’s charges against Banks included failure to hold regular meetings; signing contracts with shipowners without a single union member present; firing dozens of union officials without just cause; failing to issue adequate financial statements. On October 3, 1952, two SIU international vice-presidents from New York, Paul Hall and Morris Weisberger, came to Montreal to hear the charges against Banks.

The “Todd Hearings” lasted for ten days and are recorded on a hundred and seventy-one mimeographed pages of foolscap. In many ways this is a remarkable document. Most of the time Todd was answering questions, making explanations and apologizing for minor errors in his charges. At no time, the record indicates, was any serious effort made to find out whether the charges against Banks were valid or not. Banks’ role in the hearings appeared more that of an aggrieved bystander than that of the accused.

Within five minutes of the end of the hearing, international vice-president Paul Hall announced his decision to Todd: “You were wrong a hundred percent. It has been proven that Banks has handled your affairs in an honest manner . . . Banks was within the constitution and within the law of this union.”

Anti-Banks Propaganda

When John Droeger was tossed out of the SIU he joined forces for a t ime with Captain Herbert McMaster, head of the Mariners’ Division of the United Mine Workers. “I hired Droeger as a labor disorganizer,” McMaster says. “His job was to make life as miserable as possible for Banks.”

Some of Droeger’s activities have merely inconvenienced Banks but others have been fairly damaging to him. Once Droeger and Byron Ryan, who usually accompanied him on these escapades, chained and padlocked the doors of the SIU hall while a large meeting was in progress. Later one of the men had to go down a fire escape and remove the chains with a hack saw. Another Droeger trick was to sit on the banks of the Lachine Canal and toss bundles of sizzling anti-Banks propaganda aboard the ships (hat passed through.

Last April, on the day the Superior Court handed down a decision against Banks, Colin Gravenor, a Montreal public-relations man who for a time was associated with Banks, received a dozen beautiful red roses with the card, “Congratulations on the termination of our contract. Hal Banks.” At about the same moment, Banks was opening a box of lilies and reading the black-bordered card that had accompanied it: “Deepest sympathy in your time of mourning. Colin Gravenor.” Droeger says he sent both bouquets and charged them to the man whose name appeared as the sender.

Droeger has skilfully exploited

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Banks’ mistakes. In October 1953, when the SS Cheticamp docked in Montreal, Banks put the entire crew on the DNS list on the flimsiest evidence. Droeger stepped in promptly and persuaded the men to picket the SIU hall with signs declaring that “An American Ex-Convict Drives Canadian Ships from the Sea.” It was one of the few times in Canadian labor history that members of a union picketed their own premises.

Droeger’s most successful action against Banks began in December 1953. It was all started by a brief and rather dull news item from Ottawa. Labor Minister Milton Gregg announced that Banks had been chosen as one of the Canadian delegates to an International Labor Organization conference in Geneva in February.

Droeger and his allies sprang into action. They showered Gregg with telegrams protesting the appointment of an “alien gangster” to represent Canadian workers abroad. Droeger obtained copies of Banks’ criminal record and took them to Opposition Leader Drew. Drew checked the accuracy of the information and turned it over to Mrs. Ellen Fairclough (PC, Hamilton West) who heads her party’s labor committee and W. M. Hamilton (PC, Notre Dame de Grâce, Montreal). Copies of Banks’ record were also placed on the desks of the ministers of labor, justice, and citizenship and immigration.

Mrs. Fairclough fired the opening round in the House of Commons on February 22, 1954. Why would the Minister of Labor appoint a man as a delegate who had a criminal record both in the United States and Canada? The Opposition admitted that a mistake could have been made in December; that Banks’ background was not known to the Government when the appointment was made. But by the time Banks left for Geneva in early February several government departments had full information about Banks’ past.

The Geneva incident led to other questions. What was Banks doing in Canada in the first place? Immigration records show that Banks entered Canada in January 1949 as a nonimmigrant. His period of stay was repeatedly extended in six-month periods by the Department of Citizenship and Immigration until May 8, 1952.

At that time, Banks made application to be “landed.” This means that the immigrant fills out the proper forms and indicates his intention of becoming a citizen. If the application is accepted, he waits five years, then applies for citizenship papers.

The mystery emerging from all this is why Banks’ application for landing was accepted. When Banks came to Canada the law said that no one convicted of a crime could be granted permanent status. Question 17 of Form 1000, which applicants for landing are required to fill out, reads, “Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense?” Banks filled out Form 1000, yet the government didn’t learn of his criminal record until about one year later. How could this have happened?

The explanation is that an error was made by the Queen’s Printer in Ottawa. In the spring of 1952 the Department of Citizenship and Immigration’s supply of Form 1000 was running out. A new batch was ordered from the Queen’s Printer. Because of a typographical error question 17 was omitted from the new supply of Form 1000. By the time the department had discovered the error and had taken the faulty forms out of circulation three months had passed. Banks applied for landing during this period, using one of the faulty forms.

In spite of the noisy protests in

“BY deciding who can vote Banks can make sure the vote holders are loyal to him"*

Ottawa, Banks attended the ILO conference in Geneva in 1954. The grumbling persisted after his return.

Finally in June, a Department of Citizenship and Immigration board of enquiry was set up to decide if Banks was a fit person to remain in Canada. The board consisted of one man—Jean St. Onge, a veteran of the department’s Montreal branch. After sifting through all the evidence available, St. Onge ordered that Banks should be deported because of his criminal convictions in the United States.

Banks appealed to the minister of the department, Walter Harris. In his last day of office, before taking over the finance ministry, Harris quashed the deportation order. He recently explained why:

“Before 1953 it was absolutely prohibited to let people into the country who had criminal convictions. Everyone agreed that this was too rigid. We revised the law to give people a second chance. If the conviction was five years ago and they are now rehabilitated, the minister can allow them into the country. If the crime is of a minor nature, then it’s two years. Banks comes along. He has a criminal record but it looks a lot worse than it is. We investigated it thoroughly and we found that his appeal against deportation was sound.

“It’s true that since coming to Canada he was found in possession of 36,000 smuggled cigarettes. But he wasn’t selling them. It’s just that Banks does things on a lavish scale. It would be unwise for a minister to deport a man for having smuggled cigarettes. If I did, I’d spend all my time listening to protests against deportation.”

Harris’ successor, Jack Pickersgill, says, “I wholeheartedly agree with Walter Harris’ decision. I hope that a lot of questions will be asked about it.”

There will be. Members of the Opposition intend to air the Banks matter again in parliament. “There are still many mysteries to this case,” says George Drew. “I’m at a loss to know what’s going on.”

In the meantime, Banks is going ahead with his plans to make Canada his permanent home. He has married a Canadian girl and he intends applying for his naturalization papers in 1957.

In recent months, Banks has been hard at work to give the SIU a demo-

cratic look. A constitution for the Canadian District was adopted early in 1954. All officers are to be elected by the membership—all except Hal Banks, that is. He’s to be retained as “advisor” and elected by the international convention of the SIU which is held every two years in the United States.

Banks’ critics are cynical about the “elections.” For the thirteen elective offices open in the fall of 1954, there were only fourteen candidates. The only aspirant for the most important position — secretary - treasurer — was L. J. (Red) McLaughlin. For many years McLaughlin has been Banks’ closest henchman and has gone on record as preferring one-man rule of the SIU by Banks to self-government.

A Grip on Icebreakers

There are other obvious weaknesses in the constitution. Only seven members are required to make a quorum at any meeting. Furthermore, only “book members” are permitted to vote. It should be explained that in Banks’ union there are two kinds of members —“permit holders,” who make up an estimated eighty percent of the membership and can’t vote, and “book members” who are entitled to vote and who get the first call on all jobs. Fach month, only a few permit holders are elevated to the rank of book members by Banks. Thus, it is possible for Banks to make sure that the vote holders in the SIU are personally loyal to him.

Banks i& sometimes critical of labor leaders who have grown fat and complacent. “They sit on their swivel chairs while termites are eating out the seat from under them,” he says. No such fate is ever likely to befall Hal Banks. He has recently formed a working alliance with the Association of Government Seafarers. Wharf and Yard Employees. This may very well mean that Banks may soon have a firm grip on Canadian government icebreakers, harbor tugs and other vessels owned by federal departments such as fisheries, mines and resources and public works. If and when this does happen, Banks will have a ready explanation for it. “You can’t beat a combination of ability, brains and resourcefulness,” he says cockily. ★