March 2014 President's Report

I am pleased to submit the following report on my Labour Council work of the past month, and on some key issues I wish to bring to your attention.

  • Fairness Works training
  • Urgent All Unions, All Locals Meeting
  • International Women's Day Brunch
  • United Way Celebrations
  • Rally for Unifor Toyota Organizing Drive
  • Minimum Wage Campaign
  • Better Choices Waterloo Region
  • Canada Post Cuts
  • Living Wage Leaders Program

Fairness Works training
We had over 50 people participate in the CLC-sponsored Member-Engager training on February 13th. I co-facilitated the session with Shawn Rouse of Unifor 1106. The workshop is very useful for training union members in how to communicate effectively with fellow union members: if you would like to have this training for your members, please contact me at the Labour Council.

Urgent All Unions, All Local Meeting
Your members can’t afford lower wages, a weaker voice, or unsafe workplaces! Encourage your union members to attend a special meeting to get informed about the threats that a Hudak government would pose to union members and all our neighbours. This may be our last chance to hold this kind of an event before a provincial election is called, so please help recruit people to attend. The event is on Monday, April 7, at 7pm at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium subscribers’ lounge, and is sponsored by our Labour Council, the Guelph & District Labour Council, the OFL and CLC-Ontario. Please download and print event posters from our website at http://www.wrlc.ca/urgent_all_unions_all_locals_meeting, and help spread the word through all your networks. We need to wake up our members so that everyone will go back to their workplaces talking about the threat we are facing!

International Women’s Day Brunch
I am very proud of our Women’s Committee and CLC representative Gogi Bhandal for pulling off an incredibly successful IWD Brunch. They worked very hard to organize it in a very short time, and produced an excellent event that raised funds for three important organizations. I was honoured to be able to volunteer my time to serve at the event.

United Way Campaign Celebrations
I was able to attend the campaign celebration events for both United Ways – Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge and North Dumfries – in late February. I was very impressed with both events, and came to appreciate our Labour Council’s partnership with the United Way in new ways. They fund excellent work in our community and share many of labour’s values.

Rally for Unifor Toyota Organizing Drive
On February 16th, I was able to share some brief words at a rally organized by CUPE for Unifor’s campaign to organize the employees of Toyota at their Cambridge and Woodstock plants. Over 200 people packed into the Unifor Meeting Hall to hear from CUPE and Unifor national leaders, as well as several moving stories from Toyota workers supporting the union drive. I told the Toyota workers that our Labour Council looked forward to welcoming them into the labour movement.

Minimum Wage Campaign
The campaign to push for a $14/hour minimum wage continues despite Premier Wynne’s professed intention to raise it to $11 and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s campaign promise to raise it to $12/hour. As I said in my column in The Record on March 7th (http://www.therecord.com/opinion-story/4399344-set-ontario-s-minimum-wage-even-higher-to-reduce-poverty/), there is a reason the labour movement and our Labour Council endorsed $14/hour: it would put full-time minimum wage workers 10% above the poverty line. Let’s keep up the campaign to push for that standard.

Better Choices Waterloo Region
Preparations for this Fall’s municipal elections are ramping up in our community coalition to endorse and support progressive candidates. Last night, Better Choices Waterloo Region endorsed its first candidate for the October 27 election: Cameron Dearlove, who is running for Regional Council in Kitchener. With the endorsement, Cameron will probably be starting to seek donations from unions. Better Choices has another four requests for endorsement awaiting our decision, and we anticipate dozens more in the coming months. If your union is considering donating to municipal or school board candidates, please check to see if they have the Better Choices endorsement before making your decision. We hope to host a training session for potential candidates, campaign managers, and union organizers in April or May, and will be calling on unions to send activists to that session when we have a date finalized, so please stay tuned. To receive updates from Better Choices, sign up for their emails at www.betterchoiceswr.ca or Like or Follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Canada Post Cuts
As per the resolution passed our membership meeting last month, I have written to the Minister responsible for Canada Post, with copies to our local MPs and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, urging her to reverse the recently-announced changes to Canada Post services and to look instead for ways to increase service and revenues in areas such as postal banking.

Living Wage Leaders Program
I have attended a couple of meetings of a new group emerging to encourage employers in Waterloo Region to pay a living wage to all their employees. The group includes both Social Planning Councils and United Ways, Mennonite Central Committee, and the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union. They have found a bit of funding to hire a project co-ordinator to launch a campaign promoting the living wage idea, and are looking for organizations to join them as partners. As a partner organization, we would commit to the initiative by having a representative attend their meetings, become a champion for the living wage, and contribute in-kind or financial assistance as we are able. The Executive and I are recommending that we become a partner in this initiative.

Respectfully submitted,

Marc Xuereb
March 11, 2014


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