Our Evolution: Member-Driven Change – Thursday morning update

November 5, 2015

Convention 2015, Our Evolution: Member-driven Change kicked off this morning with a welcoming of new delegates.  It was great to see such an enthusiastic group of first timers.  Kelly Quinn and Heather Lee encouraged the delegates to speak and share their ideas.

Debra Sparrow welcomed all delegates to our convention on behalf of the Musqueam Nation.  She reminded delegates to know where they are and where they came from.  She reminded everyone in the room that we must learn from our histories and bring those experiences to this room today.

As is tradition, we started proceedings with a rousing sing-along of our national anthem and Solidarity Forever.

Our credentials committee confirmed that this Convention 2015 will host 144 delegates and 8 guests, a great mix of new and experienced people to make this convention our best ever.

Rules of Order and Election Procedures

Secretary-Treasurer Lori Mayhew then carefully went through the rules of order and election procedures as we are electing VPs at this convention. Voting will take place Friday from 4:30 to 5:30pm and Saturday from 7:30am to 9:30am. Please make sure you have your credentials available in order to receive a ballot. Delegates will be informed of the decision by the close of convention on Saturday.

President’s Address

David Black was acclaimed as president for a third term and welcomed delegates.  He talked about the importance of our members and empowering and training stewards in the workplace.  He noted that now, more than ever before, our stewards play in key role in handling workplace issues.  He asked our members to become more involved in determining our direction, and our leadership. He said we are looking at opening opportunities for members to get involved at a level that meets their interest and their commitment levels to give everyone a voice and renew democracy in our union.

 As an organization dedicated to making positive change in our society, David spoke about our responsibility to be part of the reconciliation process with First Nations – working with employers, staff and first nations groups to begin to repair the relationship.

He spoke of our relationship with governments, and our union’s responsibility to participate in democracy, champion candidates and values that reflect our members.

He outlined how we need to continue our work to become the union of choice for unorganized workers, and the way we do that is to reflect our values and our mission. And how we have listened to members, potential members and thought hard about who we are and what we believe in to come up with a new image – to be unveiled tomorrow.

Executive Council Report

Gwenne Farrell , our VP of Utilities laid out the Executive Council Report. She said we translated this report into several languages because we thought it was important to reflect the diversity of our 11,000 members. Gwenne discussed some of the changes made at the executive to make us more effective and open to council and members.  She said we have changed the entire focus of how we do training. We have sessions that let job stewards intermingle and talk about the issues that matter to them. We developed training that was specific to our components. And we will go forward with more specific training for our stewards.

Gwenne spoke about how we have been successful on a global stage, working with global affiliates making an impact on the same issues we face. We are used as an example of a successful union around the world.

Gwenne paid tribute to stand-up Canadian and labour activist Ardell Brophy who passed away last week and much-revered activist Bob Darby who passed away in June.

Resolution: Future of the Crowns

Unanimously passed.

Hassan Yussuff Address

Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, addressed the room.  He said there is no magic – that hard work is the only way to move ahead and re-energize.

He noted the challenges faced under the last 10 years under Stephen Harper.  We now have the opportunity to move ahead for progress. He said, “when you pick a fight with us, we will not stop until you are defeated.  Christy Clark will learn that soon.” Hassan said we are going to revitalize the activists in Canadian Unions.  We will fight hard, we will change the tide and we will win. We are still seen as labour leaders around the world.

He spoke of the promises of our new federal government- the importance of the National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry, moving ahead to combat climate change, labour rights – and how we need to work with the government, bring solutions to the table and hold them to account.

He concluded by showing his support for our locked-out BCAA employees fighting for a fair agreement with 151 days on the picket line.

Finance Report

Secretary-Treasurer Lori Mayhew delivered the finance report.  She spoke of the growth of our defense fund, despite a number of factors. She discussed the different proposals to change the constitution around budget and spending that will be discussed over the next few days. She spoke of the investment in our new office – giving us a tangible office to hold, belonging to our members for years to come. She discussed the upcoming rebranding and what that meant for finances – including the decisions made to save money. She concluded by stating our commitment to seeing our union not only surviving, but thriving.

Audit Committee Report

Previous Chair Colleen Finn delivered the Audit Committee Report.  The committee has been reviewing the union’s finances on a regular basis.  She was pleased to report that all finances are correct and in a good state.

Events and Social Planning Committee Report

Melanie Greenlaw delivered the report of the Events and Social Planning Committee Report. The committee organizes fun events for members and their families to come together and build relationships – to create a stronger, more effective union. We are creating a stronger and more unified voice.  She outlined a number of the events the committee has organized throughout the year, and outlined the desire to hold more events for members outside the Lower Mainland.

Arbitration Review Committee Report

VP Gwenne Farrell delivered the report.  The committee is made up of the VPs or designates.  When there is a case that has exhausted the grievance procedures and it is going to arbitration or if the rep thinks it shouldn’t go to arbitration, the committee looks at it. She said they have been successful at handing over the beginning of grievances to our job stewards- it means fewer cases coming forward to arbitration review. Job Stewards have been able to help solve many grievances and it is considered a great success.