December Council: New Leaders Within Labour and Municipal Government

December 2, 2014

The council began by observing a moment of silence in honour of World AIDS Day (December 1) and the Day of Remembrance Against Violence Against Women (December 6).

The last council meeting of the year is now a time to finalize the financial foundations for the coming year. The budget review committee recommended that MoveUP move its final budgetary council meeting to December, instead of January, to be better ready for the beginning of the union’s financial year.

Communications report included a discussion of the support (ranging from financial to strategic advice) offered to MoveUP municipal candidates and a reveal of the union’s website which was recently optimized for smart phones and tablets.

During the president’s report, MoveUP President David Black talked a bit about ongoing bargaining, including at BCAA, and some of the union’s continued efforts to represent the best interests of it’s members at the BC Utilities Commission with respect the regulation of FortisBC, ICBC and BC Hydro. He also gave a quick recap of the proceedings of the BC Federation of Labour convention. Black read out a note written by job steward and first time delegate Jack Boersma who called the convention an “awesome experience”, and that he really enjoyed “being part of the decision making” of the convention. Part of the decision making at the BC Fed convention was the election of a new president and secretary-treasurer. MoveUP supported Amber Hockin and Aaron Ekman, and while Hockin was not successful, Black pledged his support to new President Irene Lanzinger and told council COPE would do everything possible to make her term successful.

President Black also talked about the United Way campaign kick offs that happened at the union office, and at several work sites that MoveUP represents across Metro Vancouver and the rest of the province. He also attended the ICBC 25 & 35 year luncheon, which recognized the long service of MoveUP members. Black explained to delegates this year marked ICBC’s 40-year anniversary and that Vice-President Annette Toth arranged to have celebratory cakes delivered to several ICBC workplaces to commemorate the occasion.

President Black briefly reported out on the first officers meeting of the BC Federation of Labour, which, in spite of the heated BC Fed election, was a collaborative and collegial affair. Among the business conducted at the officers meeting the BC Federation of Retired Union Members (BC FORUM) was given getting a vote on the Fed council and two votes at convention.

Following President Black’s report several council members who had been delegates to the BC Fed convention got up to the microphone on the floor to talk about what the experience had meant to them.

Board member Robert Starcevich talked about his experience being a convention sergeant at arms. He enjoyed the experience, he said, which involved helping delegates with disabilities, and aiding Fed staff to run the convention elections.

Board member and co-chair of the Youth Action Committee Stephanie Smith spoke about mentoring younger delegates and how the experience of attending convention piqued the younger members’ interest in getting even further involved with their union. Stephanie also talked about the report tabled at the convention detailing the attack on public services and encouraged council members to read the report.

Council member Susan Orr reminded everyone the Fed convention was put on by a small staff of MoveUP and Steelworker members and thanked everyone for their careful acknowledgement of those members’ hard work.

Board member Joyce Glauska was elected as chair to the BC Fed’s Aboriginal caucus at convention and took a moment to reiterate her goals to the COPE council to use the Fed platform to elevate the issue of murdered and missing indigenous women. The need for a national inquiry into the missing and murdered women hits closely to home for the union since one of MoveUP’s FortisBC call centre job stewards, Anita Florence Thorne, has been missing since November 19.

David Black then gave a short report on both the national union and global union federations. Local 378 had for some time taken the lead within COPE-SEPB on global solidarity issues, but since being elected national president Simon Berlin has been expressing interest in moving that outreach to the national office. Berlin and Black will both be attending the UNI Global Union global conference in Cape Town, South Africa courtesy of the national union. Gwenne Farrell, who is also COPE-SEPB’s secretary-treasurer, as well as a vice-president of MoveUP, will be attending an IndustriALL meeting in São Paulo, Brazil. This meeting will focus on the “non-manual worker” or office worker sections of IndustriALL. Specifically, Farrell will be talking about the challenges of working in worksites with two unions, one for the tradespeople and another for office workers, and ways to meet and resolve those challenges.

Just before lunch newly elected President of the BC Federation of Labour, Irene Lanzinger, along with new Secretary-Treasurer Aaron Ekman, joined the council to give greetings and talk about some of the Fed’s priorities in the New Year. Lanzinger brought campaign material for the new minimum wage campaign, Fight for Fifteen. Over 60 per cent of those working for minimum wage are women, she explained to council, and a higher minimum wage would go a long way to combating inequality in this province.

Council was also joined by MoveUP members Korleen Carreras, Barbara Junker and Jonathan Cote, all successful candidates in the recent municipal elections. Each candidate took a brief moment at the microphone to thank their union for support during the election. Cote, who was elected as mayor of New Westminster, said that he looks forward to tackling issues like affordable housing and the environment and proving these can be made priorities without sacrificing the economy. “I’m looking forward to showing people what progressive government can do,” he finished.

After lunch, MoveUP Secretary-Treasurer Lori Mayhew led council through the proposed 2015 budget in line-by-line detail. The new budgetary process, which included thorough business-case proposals from each of the union’s committees, and an exhaustive three day executive board budgetary meeting in advance of December’s council meeting helped to ensure most if not all questions brought forward by the councillors were readily answered. The councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of passing the 2015 budget, putting the union on steady footing from which to provide services and take on new projects in the upcoming year.