I am pleased to submit the following report on my Labour Council work of the past summer, and on some key issues I wish to bring to your attention.
- We Stopped Hudak!
- Labour Council Wins Social Development Award
- Labour Day picnic
- CETA Deal Finalized: Time to Ramp up Campaign
- Health & Safety Dinner November 20th
- Student Scholarships
- Municipal Elections
We Stopped Hudak!
It’s old news now, but we shouldn’t forget to celebrate our victories. Our Labour Council and its affiliates worked very hard to ensure that Tim Hudak did not get elected in June’s provincial election, and our hard work paid off. We spent a year before the election educating ourselves and our members, families, and neighbours about the dangers of Hudak’s agenda. We helped pack 300 activists into The Aud in April to kick the OFL’s #StopHudak campaign into high gear, and packed our own membership meeting in May to co-ordinate the resources of our union Locals in the election campaign. Almost every union made donations of time, money, or both to NDP and Liberal campaigns in the region. We should be proud that only one PC candidate out of four won in Waterloo Region. We have work to do to hold the Liberals accountable, but the situation could be much worse. Sid Ryan wrote a great summary of the OFL’s efforts to #StopHudak in the summer issue of the OFL President’s Report. His column for Labour Day this year spoke of plans to work with the CLC on a similar campaign to defeat Stephen Harper in next year’s federal elections. Both articles can be viewed on our website at www.wrlc.ca.
Labour Council wins Social Development Award
The Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo selected the Waterloo Regional Labour Council to receive the 2014 Social Development award. Labour Council Women's Committee Co-Chair Lois Iles accepted the award on the Labour Council's behalf at the Social Planning Council's Annual General Meeting on June 18th. "Community partnerships are essential to the work we do at the Social Planning Council," said Trudy Beaulne, SPC-KW Executive Director. "We have had the pleasure to work with the Labour Council on a range of issues and initiatives since our very earliest days, and it is our honour to provide you with this award." The award is displayed proudly in the Labour Council's offices.
Labour Day Picnic
Hundreds of people attended our annual Labour Day picnic on September 1st, despite weather that threatened to (and did) drench us at times. Photos from the day can be viewed on our Facebook page, and we received positive media coverage in both The Record and CTV News (links to which are on our website). Thank you to all the unions who made financial contributions to the event: as always, net proceeds from the event will be split between the United Way of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge and North Dumfries. Thanks also to the many volunteers who made the event happen by staffing the BBQ, bar, ticket sales, and children’s games.
CETA Deal Finalized: Time to Ramp up Campaign
Negotiators of the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement (CETA) finalized the deal in early August. A signing ceremony is likely to happen later this month, but its ratification by Parliament is months away, so there is time for us to mount a public campaign. Our Labour Council made several presentations to municipal Councils on this issue in early 2012, asking them to pass a resolution asking the province to exclude their municipalities from the agreement. Cambridge and Wellesley passed our resolutions, and the other local municipalities passed a weaker resolution asking the federal government to ensure municipalities’ interests are represented. Municipalities’ interests are definitely threatened by this deal, as it ties the hands of future municipal governments from acting in the interests of their citizens. I wrote about this issue in my column in The Record in August: you can read it on our website.
Health & Safety Dinner November 20th
Tickets go on sale starting today for our annual Health & Safety dinner. The date of this year’s event is Thursday, November 20th, and we will be having it at the Cambridge Newfoundland Club again. This event is a great opportunity for you to thank your Health & Safety activists for their work for your Local: they get a nice dinner and good speakers about the importance of their activism. Please start thinking now about who you might nominate for our annual Health & Safety award: we want to reward activists who contribute to the elimination of hazards and the protection of workers' health and safety. The deadline for award nominations is November 1st.
Today we are awarding our annual post-secondary scholarships to two exemplary young students. Every year we ask applicants for our scholarship to write us an essay about a labour issue and to submit us their school transcripts and a resume of their non-academic interests and activities. Our first recipient, Donna Voll, is in nursing at Conestoga College, and wrote us a great essay about the job security and benefits her parents were able to secure as unionized workers, and her belief that unions fight for fairness for the whole society. Our second recipient, Bridget Campbell, is starting a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Waterloo this fall. Bridget wrote about the important role that unions play in putting people before profits, including the positive role they played in keeping the Progressive Conservatives out of the provincial government this summer. Congratulation to both of them: we hope they both go on to become union activists themselves!
We’re going to spend an hour of today’s meeting focusing on our work with Better Choices Waterloo Region to endorse and support progressive candidates in the October 27th elections for municipal Councils and School Boards. I’m hoping we will be able to unite the unions in Waterloo Region behind the 38 candidates endorsed by Better Choices. I look forward to the discussion.
September 9, 2014