Morning of Resolutions Debate as Fed Convention Wraps Up

November 30, 2012

Friday was a smaller convention day, with many other unions’ delegates heading home to communities across BC. This last day was a chance to discuss a variety of resolutions that there hadn’t been time for during the rest of the week.

For example, the first resolution addressed in the morning was around the issue of raw log export. The resolution, which passed overwhelmingly, compels the Federation to support and advance a campaign to reduce raw log exports, expand reforestation, and invest in forest stewardship. Delegates spoke to the importance of such a campaign to protect forestry jobs and our resource industry, with mills all over BC closing as job processing raw logs are shipped overseas.

Another resolution called on the BC Federation of Labour to build a campaign for labour law reform to allow unions to organize workers without the employer being given a chance to intimidate and threaten workers to fight the campaign.

The convention unanimously passed a resolution for the BC Fed to oppose the  negotiation of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Many delegates spoke passionately about how these agreements threaten our social programs and workers’ rights.

Mid-morning the convention discussed and passed resolutions to improve occupational health and safety. There was also a moment of silence for a CN Rail worker who was killed on Thursday when a fuel tanker car derailed and rolled on him.

Later, MoveUP Secretary-Treasurer Lori Mayhew spoke at the microphone in support of a resolution to oppose any changes that increase the age eligibility requirement for OAS/GIS. What Mayhew wanted to draw attention to was the existence of Superannuation Act clauses that limit survivor benefits if the couple marry after the pension recipient is age 60 or after retirement, particularly for workers in the RCMP, military, Judges, MPs, and Federal and Public Service workers. She pointed out that since women live longer, this disproportionately affects them and increases the likelihood that women seniors will end up in poverty.

“I would remind you that Alice Wong, the MP for Richmond, is the Minister of State for Seniors so I would urge you to write to her to have this discriminatory law taken off the books,” said Mayhew.

FortisBC Electric Board Member Stephanie Smith also got up at the mic to speak in favour of a resolution to campaign to safeguard defined-benefit pension plans and to educate members and the public about the dangers of defined-contribution pension plans.

“How many colleagues have I watched postpone retirement in 2008 due to a defined contribution pension, while those on defined benefit plans were still able to retire as expected? Was it strictly because of the DB pension? Maybe not,” acknowledged Smith, “But I feel DC pensions are a ploy from the financial elite to extend corporate greed by reducing costs at the expense of workers. Are we willing to risk our retirement on the financial elite who run the markets? Entrust our retirements to those who showed us in 2008 that it could be gone in the blink of an eye? I don’t think so.”

Another important resolution in the morning compels the Federation to lobby the provincial government to implement all the Ombudsperson’s recommendation on seniors care. Delegates shared emotional stories about problems they’d experienced either as seniors care workers or as relatives of seniors in care.

MoveUP brought several young workers and new members as part of their delegation for their week.

For Andrea from BC Hydro, one of her favourite parts of the week was serving on the ballotting committee that was in charge of distributing, collecting, and counting ballots in the election of President and Secretary-Treasurer. She added: “In general, I liked being able to participate in the resolutions proces; being able to have a say in what the organization is going to focus on asa whole over the next few years.”

Multicultural Committee member and CMBC steward Belinda said her favourite part was hearing speeches from both the federal and provincial NDP leaders.

Teamsters employee Dawn said, “I loved going up there on stage as a young worker [during the Young Workers Committee Report]”, and said another highlight of the week for her was “when the elections were happening – it was very exciting – the candidates came into our caucus meeting and we got to ask them almost one-on-one questions.”