2013 Education and Finance Conference coverage
The day’s agenda focused on the challenges facing working families in this province with a particular emphasis on politics. President Shawn Haggerty and Secretary-Treasurer Teresa Magee discussed the state of the Local Union including finances, organizing, grievances and arbitrations, and the merger with UFCW Local 1977 and the RWDSU Northern Joint Council, which brought the Local Union’s membership count to 66,000. [check out photos from the conference!]
President Haggerty welcomed all the delegates to the conference and touched on a number of subjects during his report. He addressed the anti-worker political climate facing the labour movements and all workers and commented on the agenda of the Harper government and Tim Hudak’s Ontario PCs to destroy workers’ rights and put more money in the pockets of corporations.
Delegates received a breakdown of money spent on grievances and arbitration, servicing, negotiations, office equipment and more. Secretary-Treasurer Magee reaffirmed the Local Union’s commitment to provide the best service to the member and their families.
A number of guest speakers took the stage at the conference as well. UFCW International President Joe Hansen spoke to the crowd about Right to Work in the United States and how that legislation has resulted in increased struggles for workers in those states.
Wayne Hanley, UFCW National President, addressed politics as well, speaking about Bill C-377 in particular and the struggle facing unionized workers in this country under the right-wing conservative Harper government.
The two amendments were approved by the delegates and will be taken to the membership for a vote at the June membership meetings.
After lunch Dr. Elaine Bernard, Director of the Labor & Worklife Porgram, and the Trade Union Program, at Harvard Law School, spoke to the crowd about igniting inspiration within our union and in those we are helping to organize. She spoke of failed austerity measures, bailouts, anger and misplaced blame.
Dr. Bernard encouraged the delegates to speak to their coworkers, friends and family about the good that unions bring to working families – that it goes beyond just wages and benefits.
In the afternoon Regional Directors Kelly Tosato and Jim McLean lead the delegates in an interactive survey to find out the Stewards’ opinions on a number of issues regarding how the Union is performing its role.
The feedback was shown immediately on the conference screens so that the stewards could see how everyone voted.
The results of this survey will be reviewed by the Membership Advocacy Committee, which will then make recommendations to the Local Union.
The final guest speaker of the day was Gina Swinea who is the International Organizing Coordinator for UFCW International. Gina, who has 30 years of experience in the labour movement, painted a picture for the delegates of what it’s like to work as a steward in a right-to-work state.
She focused on how the role of stewards gets even more difficult as the Union – and the labour movement as a whole – gets caught in a vicious cycle of having to do more work with far less funding.
President Haggerty closed the day’s presentations with a thank you to all the stewards in the room for their hard work and dedication. “The Education & Finance conference is a great opportunity for the Local Union to meet with our stewards from across the province and provide them with dynamic speakers who are well-informed on the issues that matter to them as working people in this country.”
Thank you to all the dedicated stewards and wonderful guest speakers that made the day memorable.