June 2015 President's Report

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 didn’t submit a report to the May membership meeting, so this report covers two months of activities.

  • Labour Council Committees
  • $15 and Fairness Campaign
  • Two Austerity Budgets
  • Day of Mourning
  • Justice for Mexican students Disappeared in Ayotzinapa
  • Time for Change! in our Federal Government
  • Cinema Politica
  • Input into Region's Strategic Plan
  • Rally for Waterloo with Tom Mulcair
  • OPSEU 294 Rally at Care Partners HQ

Labour Council Committees

The infrastructure is now in place for union members to join the Committees of our Labour Council. We have short written descriptions of what each committee does, and have posted them on our website at http://www.wrlc.ca/labour_council_committees. Our Committee Chairs have committed to holding at least four meetings per year for each committee, and I expect that our delegates will be the most likely people to want to get involved in them! Contact the Chair of the Committee that most interests you to discuss how you can be involved.

$15 and Fairness Campaign
The day after our April membership meeting (April 15th), I spoke at the launch event for the $15 and Fairness Campaign in Waterloo Square. The event got great media coverage in The Record, and I was interviewed on 570 News the next day about the issue. Lisa McKeown of Unifor 4304 is heading up our Labour Council’s efforts to stay involved with this campaign, and is reaching out to local allies like the Social Planning Councils, the Alliance Against Poverty, and others. She organized visits with MPPs on May 15th as part of a province-wide strategy to raise the issues. I intend to speak to the formal government consultations on June 25th when they come to Guelph.

Two Austerity Budgets
I issued news releases on labour’s perspectives on both the Ontario and federal budgets, which were both released in the week of April 20th. I spent a fair amount of time familiarizing myself with the OFL’s and CLC’s perspectives on the budgets, and prepared myself to speak to the media about them. I was interviewed by 570 News and The Record on both budgets, and by Rogers Talk Local on the federal budget.

Day of Mourning
Our annual Day of Mourning event took place on Tuesday, April 28th, at 10:30am, at Riverside Park in Cambridge. Thanks to Darlene Wilson of Unifor 4304 who did most of the organizing and did a great job as MC. We had a great turnout, including many municipal and Regional Councillors, the Police Chief, and candidates for the upcoming federal election. We had great media coverage in The Record, CTV, the Cambridge Times, and 570 News. See http://www.wrlc.ca/hundreds_gather_for_day_of_mourning_in_cambridge for pictures, video, and links to the media coverage.

Justice for Mexican students Disappeared in Ayotzinapa
I attended an event in Waterloo on April 30th focusing on the 43 students who were attacked by Mexican authorities and disappeared last Fall. The event was relevant to us not only because of the role that Canadian mining companies play in tacitly encouraging Mexican authorities to repress dissent and our government’s willingness to overlook human rights issues in the name of “trade”, but because the students were teachers who were targeted because of their activism. I was proud to see a resolution addressing the issue pass at our May membership meeting, and I have since sent a letter to the Canadian and Mexican governments as asked by our resolution.

Time for Change! In our Federal Government
As per the resolution we passed at April’s membership meeting, Kelly Dick of UFCW 175 spent four weeks of book-off time (paid half by the CLC, half by the WRLC) encouraging unions to get involved in this year’s federal election. She distributed over 30,000 CLC pamphlets to unions: the pamphlets are meant to be used as conversation starters with members, and direct people to www.betterchoice.ca. Kelly also spoke at over a dozen union membership meetings, encouraging people to get involved in the election. I provided some direction and support to Kelly, but she didn’t need much! Thank you, sister, for your excellent work. Kelly also helped us promote our May 25th event, the Kitchener stop on the CLC Time for Change tour. Thanks to everyone who attended.

Cinema Politica
I attended the first of three film screenings focusing on issues related to the federal election on May 25th. The Cinema Politica series is being co-sponsored by our Labour Council and WPIRG. The first film was Status Quo: The Unfinished Business of Canada, and I led a conversation with about twenty people after the screening on an issue which featured prominently in the film, child care.

Input into Region’s Strategic Plan
Following up on the input we gave to the Regional government’s four-year strategic plan at our May membership meeting, I attended a meeting for community leaders to give input on May 27th. I was able to voice our concerns about the new Waterloo Regional Economic Development Corporation, and to caution several of the business leaders from sounding too optimistic about our local economy. I urged them to put a priority on attracting corporations creating good jobs, and on making poverty reduction a priority.

Rally for Waterloo with Tom Mulcair
On May 28th, I was proud to nominate Diane Freeman as the NDP candidate for the federal riding of Waterloo. Tom Mulcair spoke to an excited room packed with hundreds of people.

OPSEU 294 Rally at Care Partners HQ
I was invited to speak at a rally of OPSEU 294 members in Kitchener on May 28th, at the headquarters of Care Partners. The Local is seeking their first contract since voting in the unions and has been on strike since April.

Respectfully submitted,

Marc Xuereb
June 9, 2015

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