Alf Ready never lost sight of the needs of Hamilton’s workers.
Ready earned his place in Hamilton’s history book by organizing, almost single-handedly, the first union at Westinghouse at a time when the labour movement was still in its infancy.
A native Hamiltonian, Ready joined Westinghouse in 1926 earning 16 cents an hour. He was convinced a labour union was needed but it proved to be a long struggle during which he tried just about anything to win support from his co-workers. Chalking union slogans on stair risers when watchmen weren’t looking, and even writing messages on toilet paper, Ready was tireless in his efforts to gain security and improve working conditions through the development of a union.
Improved vacation time was one of his goals– in those days employees had to work 10 years before they got one week of vacation, and 20 years for two weeks. In 1943 Ready helped organize Hamilton workers for a Queen’s Park rally to push for a week’s vacation after a year’s work. Within a few months it was law.
In 1946 Alf Ready finally won support for Westinghouse’s first union and became the first president of Local 504, United Electrical Workers.
Ready was a bundle of energy with time to spare for such pursuits as running a mink farm, managing a family restaurant and, after retiring from Westinghouse in 1971, working as a paddock judge at Flamborough Downs. He and his wife Ruth had six children
He died in 1997 at the age of 88.