Working conditions

George Deckelbaum, Bill Sears Sr. and Bill’s son, Bill Sears Jr., were co-owners of Yarntex/Filtex for more than half a century. What were they like? Here’s what Gisèle Boivin-Roy, Brian Rollins and André Lagimonière shared with Louise Harpin.

Forty or 50 years ago factory workers endured conditions that would be considered totally unacceptable today. Day in and day out they had to put up with noise, dust, heat in summer, cold in winter, and dampness and humidity all year long. Repetitive job tasks frequently resulted in tendinitis and back pain.

Lynette Enevoldsen addressed these issues with Betty Norton, Anne Soucy, Pierre Marcotte, Fleur-Ange Beauregard, Gisèle Boivin-Roy, André Lagimonière and Charlie Talbot.

La Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (formerly known as Quebec’s Occupational Health and Safety Board), didn’t exist in the years 1950-1970; the CNESST was only established in 1979 (and renamed, with a broader mandate, in 2015). Prior to that there were no norms in the workplace, no monitoring and no accident reports. What was the track record for the spinning mill at Sutton? Louise Harpin and Davis Joachim posed the question to Thérèse Lessard, Teddy St-Amour, Gisèle Boivin-Roy, Betty Norton and André Lagimonière. They recall no major accidents, but there were many minor injuries (such as cuts). Potentially dangerous incidents occurred, but thankfully, none had serious consequences.