I am pleased to submit the following report on my Labour Council work, and on some key issues I wish to bring to your attention.
- NDP Convention
- Unifor 4304 Delegates
- Book-off time for Labour Council Officers
- Affiliate Presidents’ meeting
- Labour Council Commentaries on Employment Insurance and the Federal Budget
- Day of Mourning
- United Way KW labour staffer
Brothers and sisters, I spent the weekend in Edmonton as a delegate of our Labour Council to the NDP Convention in Edmonton. I emerged prouder than ever to be a New Democrat. The party passed several resolutions of importance to Labour, and I was particularly energized by the discussions throughout the Convention about climate change. This is an urgent global issue that affects ALL workers, and as Stephen Lewis told us, the damage we have done to this planet is a monumental crime against humanity that we have little time to address. After several important interventions from Alberta delegates – including NDP Premier Rachel Notley – concerned about the impact on workers in fossil fuel industries, the Party passed a resolution agreeing to have conversations about the Leap Manifesto in riding associations across the country. I know we can have those conversations in a way that address the very real issues of workers in affected industries. The energy and passion of delegates on this issue – particularly youth – was inspiring! The issue of Party leadership, in my opinion, is secondary. I believe we have put our party on a hopeful footing that can build on the energy and enthusiasm of this Convention and last Fall’s campaign to inspire Canadians to make important changes in our future. My friends, the NDP’s future is bright, and labour’s role in the NDP continues to be important.
Unifor 4304 Delegates
Back to more local issues. Unfortunately, as I announced at our March membership meeting, the leadership of one of our affiliates – Unifor 4304 – has decided to recall all eight of it delegates. This meant that three members of our Executive, including our First Vice President, could no longer continue on our Executive. So at this April’s meeting, we will hold elections for three positions on our Executive, and if any current members of our Executive are successful in being elected First Vice President, we will need to hold elections to fill his or her position next month.
Book-off time for Labour Council Officers
As many of you know, I started a full-time book-off with CUPE Ontario in late January to work on the Keep Hydro Public campaign. We have had no one taking the one day per week President’s leave time since, as neither of our Vice Presidents was able to get the leave from their jobs. However, I am happy to report that our Second Vice President, Mark Cairns, has stepped up and put in a significant amount of volunteer time to fulfill Labour Council duties over the past two months. You will see evidence of that later in this report.
As you may also remember, our Executive passed a budget in February that budgeted to pay one day per week of book-off time for the three Officers named in our By-Laws – President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Last month, I asked David Eales, our Secretary, to seek leave from his employer to do one day per week of work for the Labour Council. He has done so, and expects to be able to start taking this leave in late April. I have also asked Jeff Pelich, currently an at-large member of our Executive, to seek the same leave, so that he can work on the Make it Fair! Campaign and the Human Rights Committee. We will consider a motion at this Tuesday’s membership meeting to pay for this. I believe we need to expend the resources to achieve the priorities we have set for ourselves as a Labour Council.
Affiliate Presidents’ meeting
When the Executive presented its 2016 budget to our February Labour Council meeting, I talked about my feeling that we need to raise the per capita dues for our Labour Council. At our current dues level, if we pay for book-off time for our three Officers as described in our By-Laws, we will continue to run huge deficits. And while we have a healthy reserve right now, we cannot run deficits forever. Our Executive has since reviewed the per capita levels of other Labour Councils, and is ready to have a conversation with our affiliates about our dues levels. I am going to call a meeting of the Presidents of all our affiliated Locals in the near future to have this discussion. I don’t anticipate any proposed change to our per capital levels to be considered before this Fall.
We are also being encouraged by the Ontario Federation of Labour to hold an affiliate Presidents’ meeting to discuss the OFL’s Make it Fair! Campaign, which is an effort to mobilize union members to speak out about the need for changes to the Employment Standards and Labour Relations Acts in Ontario. The Executive agreed at our meeting last week to address these two topics in one Presidents’ meeting. I expect us to name a date for this meeting soon, and for the date to be sometime in late May or June.
Labour Council Commentaries on Employment Insurance and the Federal Budget
In March, our Second Vice President Mark Cairns spent a great deal of time preparing responses on behalf of our Labour Council to 1) an invitation to submit suggestions on reforming EI, and 2) the federal budget. You can find our responses to both on our web page. Thanks to Mark for putting in the work on these very professional and important submissions.
Day of Mourning
Mark Cairns is also organizing logistics for our annual Day of Mourning event on April 28th. Please spread the word to members of your Locals that this year’s ceremonies will take place at 10:30am at the Workers’ Memorial in Victoria Park, Kitchener.
United Way KW labour staffer
This past month, I participated in the interview process to hire a temporary labour staff replacement at the KW United Way of Kitchener-Waterloo and Area. We had some excellent candidates, and in the end hired UFCW 175 member Kelly Dick for a four-month position. I look forward to working with her on issues of importance to the United Way and labour.
April 12, 2016