Lodge 580 members are federal government employees. They maintain and repair ships for the Canadian Navy. These members are Fitters, Welders Fabricators, Blacksmith and Riggers. Lodge 580 was chartered in 1927.
The Halifax dockyards dated back to 1759 when the British Royal Navy established a base. Between 1862 and 1879 a vast sum of money was spent improving defenses in Halifax including fleet of 30 ships were based here needing maintenance and repairs. From 1875 to 1876 the dockyards were upgraded; a steam Engine house was built central to the Smith shop, Boiler shop, Plate Bending shop and a Machine shop to improve the services to the shipping industry. By 1889, the Halifax Graving Dock was established to accommodate the new iron clad ships. As the 1900’s approached, the steamer ship replaced the great sailing ships by a 3 to 1 ratio, increasing the need for Boilermakers.
In 1901, Lodge 285 in Halifax was chartered to serve the needs of the shipyards, navel dockyard, railroads and boiler shops. It’s charter lapsed in 1908. In 1905, the RN pulled out of the Dockyard at Halifax leaving Canada to make a decision: Pay the RN to guard the coast of Canada or create its own navy. The Canadian Government took over the two naval dockyards, one in Halifax and the other in Esquimalt on Vancouver Island. When WW1 started, the work picked up for these members constructing, fitting, and repairing war and commercial ships. In 1915, Lodge 580 was locked in an extended dispute with the major ship building firms in Halifax, but it was resolved by the time tragedy struck.
In 1917, a world-scale explosion took out over a square mile of the city of Halifax. It would remain the largest man-made explosion until Hiroshima in 1945. The explosion occurred in the Halifax Harbour when two ships collided, setting off 2,600 tons of explosives. The human death toll reached 1,963, 9,000 people were injured of which 199 were left blind, 25,000 were left homeless, 6,000 homes lost and 1,600 buildings were destroyed or damaged. The Dockyards and the many commercial shipyards had to be rebuilt.
In 1927, Lodge 580 was granted a charter and this time it held its ground by maintaining its jurisdiction. But with a world wide depression things were slowed till 1936 when the dockyards became active. The Canadian Navy began to expand and cementing Lodge 580 took it’s place in the Dockyards. During the Second World War, Halifax was kept busy with ship repairs and some new construction. In 1942, Lodge 580 formed a Council along with the other Unions at the dockyards. After the war when employees in the private sector were starting to receive pay increases, the public employees were smaller because the legislation did not allow the public employees the right to collective bargaining. During this time, Canada maintained a navy with a fleet of 62 ships which kept the Dockyards busy.
In the 1960’s, the Council that 580 helped to form was finally recognized by the Federal government and started to address the issues of wages being frozen in the public sector. During the late 1970’s to the early 1980’s, the Halifax dockyard underwent a large modernization program. Lodge 580 started to sponsor its own educational seminars on Brotherhood matters.
Lodge 580 is the oldest continuous International Brotherhood charter in Atlantic Canada.