Even in retirement, Brother Gavin did not remain inactive for long. The Local 304 Pensioner’s Association was formed in 1956 and he became its first secretary-treasurer, an office he held until his death on April 29, 1965. The Pensioner’s Association still continues and is very active in planning events and arranging an annual dinner for retired members of the Local.

In 1956, Local 304 also made its first approach to the soft drink workers. Pepsi-Cola, Toronto was organized in that year and the unit eventually formed one of the main foundations for the Soft Drink Workers Joint Local Executive Board.

That same year, the International Convention returned to Toronto. This was only the second time a Convention had been held in Canada and on both occasions Local 304 played host to the delegates – this time in conjunction with Local 326 and Local 356. This Convention held at the Royal York Hotel lasted only six days and was a rather more formal affair than its predecessor in 1906.

There was a great deal to discuss. The International Union in the United States had been under sustained jurisdictional attack ever since the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 and the Teamsters had been particularly aggressive in their efforts to raid. In 1941, the Teamsters had gone so far as to convince the American Federation of Labour that the Brewery Workers should be expelled for their refusal to merge with them.

The International had later (in 1955) became re-associated with the American Federation of Labour, when the merger of the AFL and the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) took place, but the Teamsters problem did not end. Although no resolution to the Teamster dispute emerged at that time, the 1956 Convention was but a forerunner of the 1973 Convention in Cincinnati when most of the American locals did merge with the Teamsters.

The next two years saw an even larger transformation. The Local set up its first strike fund in 1957, a new pension plan was instituted at Labatt, and the breweries returned to the industry-wide bargaining format, which had been abandoned for a number of years.

The strike fund was set up none too soon. In 1958 Brewer’s Warehousing employees went out on strike against their Company and, when members of Local 304 refused to act as strikebreakers, they were locked out. The strike lasted eight weeks and none of the Toronto breweries resumed operations until the Warehousing contract had been settled on reasonable terms.

Events crowded even more closely as the years flew by. The Local office moved from its old location at 137 Bond Street to 501 Yonge Street in 1960. In the same year, Niagara Dry in Niagara Falls was organized and the Local attained 1000 members. The Canadian Labour Congress research department reported that the brewery workers were the highest paid industrial workers in Canada.

The year 1961 also initiated some traumatic problems for the Local. Carling O’Keefe opened its new plant in Etobicoke and began to consolidate all its operations under one roof. The O’Keefe plants on Simcoe and Victoria Streets were beginning to be phased out and Local 327, Dow Breweries in Kitchener was merged with Local 304 when Dow Breweries moved to Simcoe Street in Toronto. Canadian Breweries Transport workers in Hamilton were also moved to Toronto, all of which created heavy layoffs and immense difficulties in the merging of the seniority lists and which eventually ended in splitting the Local.

In 1962, the Local had a big increase in membership as it successfully raided the Teamsters for 50 Pepsi-Cola workers in Hamilton and at Hyatt Transport in Toronto. Later in the year, Local 304 was certified for Coca-Cola workers in Hamilton. The Coke employees eventually went out on strike in December. The strike lasted some 50 weeks and only ended when the Company finally capitulated and agreed to recognize the Union’s bargaining rights. Throughout this entire period, Local 304 was paying $1,000.00 per week to the striking members.
The membership kept increasing during 1963 and 1964 as Local 304 was successfully certified for Carnation Foods in Alexandria, Coca-Cola in London, Pepsi-Cola in Niagara Falls, Standard Brands in Guelph, and Dorans Breweries in Sudbury. At the same time 49 members of the International Chemical Workers Union, Local 593, Dominion Malting joined the Local.

Negotiations were not forgotten amid this spate of organizing. Canadian Breweries laboratory technicians were also certified in 1963. They received an average increase of 61.04%. The Ontario Federation of Labour reported this jump as the highest increase ever negotiated in Canada up until that time. In 1965, the Local office moved once more, this time to 2349 Yonge Street, and Local 291, Dorans Breweries in Timmins surrendered its separate charter to merge with Local 304.

By 1966-67, the Canadian Breweries consolidation was well under way and eventually, after a very painful period and resignations by the Local president and recording-secretary, the Carling plant in Etobicoke broke away and was separately charted as Local 325 in June 1967. At about the same time the Harley Transport was organized under the name Herb Payne Transport.

By 1970 the Local was organizing once more, and was certified for Parkdale Wines in Toronto {now Chateau Cartier Wines}, although a campaign at McGuinness Distilleries unfortunately did not succeed. It was at this time that Lakeshore Foods changed their name to Miles Laboratories.

The Local office moved again, to 2453 Yonge Street in 1971. By this time Labatt’s had begun to move all their operations to the new plant on Islington Avenue, and Canadian Breweries Limited had bought Dorans Breweries. FBM Distilleries {Bacardi} was also certified in 1971 as Caribbean Distilleries, although the membership of that unit were forced to go on strike almost immediately in order to secure a decent contract.

Only a year later national considerations began to take precedence over Local issues. The International Union in the United States was now advocating merger with the Teamsters. Local 304 representatives at the Convention in Cincinnati in September 1972 were in the forefront of the opposition to such a merger and when the issue was lost, they joined representatives from most of the other Canadian locals in withdrawing in protest.

Membership support in the Local for a Canadian Union was instantaneous, enthusiastic, and unanimous. Local 304 Business Agent P. O’Dowd was named chairman of the “Provincial General Executive Board”. He was later elected President of the newly formed Canadian Union of United Brewery, Flour, Cereal, Soft Drink and Distillery Workers, at the Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto Conventions. Lengthy legal battles with the Teamsters with respect to the Canadian Union’s right to represent its’ members continued until 1984 when, following an important victory at the Ontario Labour Relations Board, an agreement was reached with the Teamsters in which the Canadian Union recognized the validity of the merger with the Teamsters in the United States and the Teamsters recognized the independence and validity of the Canadian Union.

Meanwhile, the internal activities of the Local had by no means come to a complete standstill. The Public Utilities Commission in Alexandria was organized in 1972. Local Union 286 in Sault Ste. Marie decided to surrender its charter and join Local 304. At almost the same time the Soft Drink Workers Joint Local Executive Board was established. All of the soft drink units in the Local transferred their membership to the new organization with the full blessing and financial support of Local 304. Employees at Jordan Valley Wines also joined the Local in 1973.
The Local offices moved again in 1974 to 15 Gervais Drive and, in 1975, the Local was certified form Chateau-Gai Wines stores in the Toronto area, and for Scott Laboratories. Another organizing campaign at Canada Dry in Toronto was not successful despite the hard work and best efforts of some Local 304 members.

1974 also saw the Local and the Canadian Union in the forefront of the National Day of Protest, a one day nation-wide strike called by the Canadian Labour Congress to protest the Anti-Inflation Act which had imposed wide reaching wage controls on Canadian wage earners. Brother O’Dowd was the only labour leader in Canada who was able to say that not one member of the Union worked during that day of protest. The Union’s strike had been 100% effective.

In 1975 employees at Canada Catering joined the Local and, in 1976, Canadian Mist and Nacan employees transferred their membership from Local 325. The office of Business Agent changed hands for only the third time in 75 years, when in June 1976, Brother O’Dowd resigned to take up his mandate as full-time President of the National Union. Robert Cassells, the Plant Chair of the Molson’s plant for almost 20 years was elected to replace him for the balance of his unexpired term, defeating Cam Nelson, a National Union Representative who was just completing law school.