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. I did not prepare a written report in January, so I’ll cover the past two months.
- CLC Election Preparation Conference January 23-24
- New Labour Council Executive
- Visits to City Councils
- Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation
- Living Wage Waterloo Region
- Consultations on the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan
CLC Election Preparation Conference January 23-24
I spent a fair bit of my time in December and January preparing for the huge conference we held on January 23 and 24th. I helped arrange logistics for the hotel, recruited workshop facilitators and panelists, and reached out to union leaders to encourage them to attend. Many others, including OFL and CLC staff, helped promote the event, which was very successful. Almost 200 union activists heard details on what the Harper government has done to Canadians and learned skills for mobilizing their co-workers, neighbours, and family to defeat it. Keynote speeches from CLC Vice President Donald Lafleur, OFL President Sid Ryan, and CLC Senior Economist Angella McEwan were well received, as was the panel of four local people describing the effects of Harper policies on health care, good jobs, child care, and retirement security. You can view photos from the event on our Facebook page. The upcoming federal election should be a major part of our unions’ efforts this year.
New Labour Council Executive
I spent a lot of time in December speaking to potential candidates for our Labour Council Executive and Committee Chairs. I stressed with everyone I spoke to that I want to see our Committees become much more active in the 2015-16 term of our Executive, and that I would like our Chairs to spend more of their energies involving more Labour Council delegates in their Committees and carrying out activities in their committees’ mandate. I am happy with our new Executive and Committee Chairs who were elected January 11th, and look forward to a Strategic Planning session we have scheduled for March 10th where we will make some decisions about priorities and expectations for the next two years.
Visits to City Councils
I attended the inauguration ceremony for Regional Council on December 10th, and made presentations to Kitchener City Council on December 15th, and to the Cities of Waterloo and Cambridge on January 12th and 26th, respectively. I can report that, thanks to our Labour Council’s efforts at influencing the past few municipal elections, we are well known and received with our local City Councils. My presentations introduced new Councillors to how many members we have in our Labour Council and what kinds of municipal issues we have spoken out on, and invited them to consult with us whenever they wish. I also passed out copies of CUPE’s Fair Funding Toolkit for municipalities, and my suggestion that they look into some of the alternative financing mechanisms it recommends for municipalities was well received. I would like to see more Labour Council delegates organizing through our Political Action Committee to visit local Council meetings on a regular basis so we can maintain and enhance these relationships.
Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation
Our growing relationship with local municipal Councillors was evident when I received a call from one of the Councillors we endorsed in the last election to inform us of a conversation at a recent all-Councils meeting at which the new Waterloo Region Economic Development Strategy was discussed. The Councillor told me that another one of our endorsed Councillors had asked why there were no plans to have a labour representative on the new Economic Development Corporation being formed. In short, we now have an opportunity to have someone we recommend appointed to the Board who would bring a crucial labour perspective.
Applications for the Board are due February 25th. If you think you may have the skills to sit on this Board and want me to lobby the Board Selection Committee on your behalf, submit an expression of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, February 20th. You'll want to read the Board expectations and application on the WREDS website at www.wreds.ca first, and then tell me how you would meet those expectations and which skills and attributes you have that they're looking for. I will decide which applicants to support in my lobbying.
Living Wage Waterloo Region
Since the November launch of this employer recognition campaign which started out with ten employers signing on as certified Living Wage employers, Living Wage Waterloo Region received the welcome news that it has been approved for a three-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to grow the program. I spent a fair amount of time working with the several organizations that form the Living Wage Waterloo Region collaborative figuring out how to plan for the expenditures of this grant and hire the staff. Our Labour Council is a proud member of this collaborative, which will only grow in stature and impact over the next few years.
Consultations on the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan
The Liberal government is holding consultations across the province on a discussion paper it released in December with ideas for a new Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. The ORPP has the potential to be a made-in-Ontario response to the CLC’s retirement security campaign to increase the CPP and OAS, but the discussion paper leaves open a number of questions about how universal this new plan will be. The business lobby has been packing the consultation sessions with banks and investment companies with a vested interest in the status quo, so we need to make sure our voices are heard. The OFL is encouraging all unions to get involved in the consultations to fight for a universal pension fund for all workers. Submissions for the consultation are due this Friday, February 13th. One of our new Executive members, Unifor 1106’s Dave Eales, will be presenting on behalf of the Labour Council at the consultations in Stratford this Friday.
February 10, 2015