Alma Faulds

Alma Amelia Schmidt was born in 1915 in Zorra, Saskatchewan, an Austrian settlement.  Her parents were both immigrants to Canada and worked a farm. At 14, the family moved to Manitoba. She didn’t start school until 8 1/2 and had no English. She worked hard to get an education, hoping to go to nursing school, but despite her efforts poverty, illness, and a lack of openings derailed her into housemaid work. During these years, and as a waitress at the posh Manitoba Club, she joined the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and honed her understanding of class, politics, and human rights. She married in 1940to a Scottish-born construction worker, Alexander Faulds (1908-1994). Three months later her husband was sent overseas. He returned with severe arthritis. they moved to Oliver, British Columbia, where the climate could offer him some relief. She worked for a time in the fruit canneries and was instrumental in unionizing the packing houses. She spent the next 20 years as part of the union executive and, from 1959 to 1973 business agent of the Fruit and Vegetable Workers Union, Local 1572, CLC. She is noted for her activism in other areas, including in opposition to residential schools.

Audio Interview [1979]

An interview was conducted with Faulds by Sara Diamond, however, the tape was lost. Thankfully, a full transcript of the interview survives. A handwritten note on the top page of the transcript warns that “This transcript has not been proofed because the tape is missing.”

Description

Faulds describes her early years in Saskatchewan in an Austrian settlement; her struggle to pursue education because of her family’s poverty; life on her parents’ farm; moving to Manitoba at age 14; her attempts to get into St. Boniface Hospital to be trained as a nurse but ending up a housemaid in the home of the banker who held their family’s mortgage; working conditions of housemaids and domestics on the Prairies during the depression; being introduced to the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Regina Convention; her recurring illness and how it derailed her hopes of further education;  waitressing at the Manitoba Club and negotiating with management on behalf of all the waitresses; her move with her husband to Oliver, B.C.; working in the fruit packing plants including the Aylmer plan; becoming a shop steward and union organizer; their 1955 strike at the peak of the peach crop; the 1957 “Faulds et al versus Hesford et al” court case; achieving the 8-hour day in 1965; her activities as business agent of the Fruit and Vegetable Workers Union, Local 1572, CLC.

Transcription

Full interview: Faulds, Alma

The Alma Faulds Scrapbook

Courtesy of Alma Faulds.

Faulds kept a scrapbook chronicling her years with the Farm and Vegetable Workers Union. It includes photographs, newspaper clippings, personal correspondence, and hand-written notes during her time as Business Agent. A very small sample of the kinds of its contents are included here. Due to copyright issues we cannot place the full scrapbook online. Researchers should contact us for in-person appointments to view this object. library@vivomediaarts.com.

Subject: Meeting of the Federation of Fruit and Vegetable Workers Union
Location: Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
Date: January 22, 1954
Photographer: Stocks

Legal Documents, 1956.

Judgements in the case of the Federation of Fruit and Vegetable Workers Union, Alma Faulds, and other named Plaintiffs vs. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America and other named Defendents.