2016 BC Federation of Labour Convention – Day 3

November 30, 2016

Day three of the 2016 BC Federation of Labour Convention began with a moving video tribute to the farmworkers who lost their lives in an automobile accident in 2007.  Three women, packed into an unsafe and poorly maintained work van with 14 others died when the van lost control on a highway near Abbotsford. The workers have been memorialized in the Golden Tree Monument in Abbotsford that stands as a powerful reminder of the consequences of unsafe work.

Occupational Health and Safety Committee
The BC Fed OHS Committee presented its report. The report focussed on the key issues the committee is working on and the wrk they have done over the past few years including: preventing serious injury and death, the certificate of recognition program review, workplace bullying and harassment, psychological health and safety,  asbestos, farmworker health and safety, compensation, advocacy, research and political action.

Many delegates spoke to the OHS resolutions with passion about the issues they face in their workplaces, from care aides who experience frequent sexual harassment to workers injured on the job.

Climate Change Working Group
The Climate change working group encouraged delegates to support clean energy initiatives, promote alternatives to fossil fuel, lobby for clean energy alternatives, to push affiliates to commit that all aspects of our business to be environmentally responsible.

Political Action Committee
MoveUP’s David Black led the discussion on the Political Action Committee’s report. He asked, “why is it important to be involved in political action? Some things cannot be addressed through the workplace alone.” Balck also commented on the importance of supporting political action in the Federation in light of the NDP’s commitment to ban corporate and union donations to level the political playing field: “I believe that political action is critically important even after the ban is put in place.”

MoveUP Secretary-Treasurer Lori Mayhew spoke to the importance of electing progressive governments bot just provincially, but also municipally.  Calling municipal councillors our farm team, she urged delegates “to get out and run municipally to hone skills and bring progressive change to our communities.”

Constitution and Structure
There was lively debate over the resolutions in the constitution and structure discussion. While MoveUP spoke in support of resolution CS-1, which would increase the levy for Campaigns and Defence to establish a Political Action Fund and amend Article 16 of the BCFED Constitution, the resolution was defeated.  David Black spoke in favour of Resolution CS-3, calling for a reallocation of delegates, saying it “rationalizes and modernizes the labour movement and allows affiliates to more appropriately allocate resources.”  However, the resolution was similar defeated.

Together for BC
The BC Fed launched its pre-election campaign “Together for BC.”  Delegated cheered and applauded as members took to to the mice to share their stories about why they will be voting for the NDP in 2017 and how together, better can happen here.  Check out the campaign at togetherforbc.ca.

Charlie Demers
Progressive comedian Charlie Demers  entertained delegates with an at times funny, thoughtful and emotional performance.  He  gave a powerful call to the labour movement for the future: “I’m not here to empower you. I’m asking you to empower me.”

A number of MoveUP delegates spoke to resolutions that affect our members’ daily lives. MoveUP Vice President Alicia Gallo stood for “Stable, predictable funding of transit that will help our communities plan, grow and be livable for all.”  Board member Kat Prinz, spoke of a personal experience with long surgical wait times and asked delegates to push the government for fewer delays.  And member Caitlin Davidson-King, who spent months on the picket line as a striking BCNU staff member, told of her experiences and urged delegates to vote for a resolution asking the federation to re-examine its policy statement on picketing and incorporate changes that address work that is carried out from remote locations and home offices, rather than in a physical location behind a picket line. She said, “we need policy that clearly defines what a picket line in.  Without it, we become divided, weakened and distracted.”  Her brave comments were met with a standing ovation from delegates.