May 2014 President's Report

May 13, 2014 - 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.

  • Follow-up to #StopHudak meeting

  • Provincial Election

  • CLC Convention

  • Day of Mourning

  • Better Choices Meet & Greet, Training

  • (Un-)Fair Elections Act event


Follow-up to #StopHudak meeting
Following last month’s successful meeting at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, with almost 300 union activists learning about the threat Tim Hudak poses to the working people of this province, we received a number of requests to speak to individual unions. CUPE Locals 1883 and 1656 hosted a joint meeting on April 29th for all their members, and replicated the same agenda as the April 7th OFL meeting. CUPW Local 560 invited me to speak to their Stewards’ meeting on April 15th. And ETFO-Waterloo Region invited me to speak to all their Stewards (“Fed reps”) on April 28th. All of the aforementioned unions have plans to distribute the Important Message to Union Members card to all their members. Does your union have such a plan??! An activist booked off by the OFL will be following up with unions in our Labour Council in the coming weeks to offer support and encouragement to all of our unions to get the message out.

Provincial Election
Now that we have an election date set for June 12th, we all need to turn our attention to the task of reaching out to our members and ensuring they don’t let Tim Hudak get elected Premier of Ontario. Many of our unions will be donating funds and people to campaigns over the next month, and it is my hope that we can find a way to ensure we don’t have unions supporting opposite campaigns in the same riding. Personally, CUPE Ontario has booked me off for the rest of the campaign to work on Catherine Fife’s re-election in Kitchener-Waterloo.

CLC Convention
Ed Weidinger and I attended last week’s Convention of the Canadian Labour Congress on behalf of this Labour Council. Almost 4,800 delegates were there, including well over a dozen from unions affiliated with our Labour Council. The Convention narrowly elected a new President, Hassan Yussuff, who ran on a platform of returning the labour movement to a more militant, fighting style, and who promised to put resources into mobilizing our members. Labour Council delegates from across the country mostly supported Yussuff because of his support for the work of Labour Councils and the perception that the former President didn’t appreciate the work that we do. The Convention adopted the report of the CLC’s Labour Council Task Force, which called for the CLC to offer a range of additional supports to Labour Councils to help us carry out the campaigns of the CLC and provincial federations like the OFL.

Day of Mourning
Our annual Day of Mourning event was held in Waterloo this year on April 28th, and was a resounding success. About 200 people attended, including many local politicians like Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran and KW MPP Catherine Fife. I used my five minutes at the podium to address the shameful cuts to the WSIB that Elizabeth Witmer has overseen, both in her time as Labour Minister in the 1990s and in her current role as WSIB Chair. She was on hand to receive the criticism, and offered to meet with me to discuss our issues, which I will do. The Reverend Oscar Cole-Arnal was at his finest in reminding us of the policies which lead to workplace deaths and injuries. We received excellent media coverage in The Record, the Waterloo Chronicle, and 570 News, and my community editorial board column on the WSIB cuts was published the next week.

Better Choices Meet & Greet, Training
Better Choices Waterloo Region held a successful event for interested candidates and supporters on April 30th. Over 60 people attended, including many members of our affiliated unions, and many incumbent Councillors and Trustees. Obviously the incumbents feel we have some power and are therefore worth talking to!

As of today, Better Choices has six endorsed candidates:

  • Kitchener Ward 10: Sarah Marsh
  • Kitchener Regional Council: Cameron Dearlove and Elizabeth Clarke
  • Cambridge Ward 1: Donna Reid
  • Cambridge Ward 2: Pam Wolf
  • Cambridge Ward 6: Colin Slingsby

Better Choices will be holding a training session for municipal candidates, campaign managers, and campaign volunteers on June 20 & 21 in Guelph. I would like to encourage all unions to send at least one person to our campaign volunteers session, as we will be training people in how to use your union’s membership list to target messages to members living in specific Wards.

(Un-)Fair Elections Act event
The Labour Council co-sponsored an event with the Social Planning Council of KW and other organizations on April 23rd to call attention to the anti-democratic features of the so-called Fair Elections Act. NDP MP Peggy Nash spoke eloquently to the over 60 people in attendance, as did a local professor and an activist with Fair Vote Canada. Labour Council activist Nancy Hutcheson wrote a great article on the Act on our website, and we can probably take some credit for contributing to the nation-wide movement that convinced the Harper Conservatives to make a number of amendments to the Bill.

Respectfully submitted,

Marc Xuereb, President

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