Our Local Union Delegated Meeting (LUDM) started yesterday in Burnaby, British Columbia, with 170 delegates, guests and staff in attendance.
The LUDM is being held at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown Hotel, from March 20 to March 22, 2018.
After an address from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation spokesperson Carleen Thomas, the day started with opening remarks from our National President Lee Riggs, calling for unity, especially with the collective bargaining with Shaw and Telus in the months to come.
"It has been a great year and we accomplished a lot. We achieved a lot together in our workplaces and in our communities," National President Lee Riggs stated. "We made some very tough decisions to keep us on a stable financial footing and we know that more tough decisions will have to be made. I am so proud to see our members stepping up and becoming more involved. It is through these efforts that we will be stronger together."
Following the opening remarks from our National President, our National Director for Canada Ken Neumann spoke of the importance of increasing joint activism, education and campaigns within our union, such as Hang Up On Abuse, Building Power and the Next Gen program.
"I am proud of the merger and of the incredible work Local 1944 has done," stated USW National Director for Canada Ken Neumann. "I thank each of the members for their commitment to this process."
Chris Youngmark, Director of USW Local Union Services, along with Mark Rowlinson, Assistant to the National Director, read the new By-Laws to the delegates, and answered questions with National President Lee Riggs.
Honourable Harry Bains, BC's Minister of Labour, explained the agenda and actions of the BC New Democratic government. The NDP's values are shared by the Local: minimum wage increase, education, inclusivity for women and visible minorities, health care, and improved working conditions. The Minister thanked our union for its involvement with the party.
"We need to implement safe workplaces, and that can only be done with a worker-centered approach," he said. "By improving your members' working conditions, you are improving every non-unionized worker's working conditions in the country."
After lunch, the delegates nominated Czar Loquia (from Unit 10) and Candace Knoll (from Unit 51) as Telecommunications Workers Union Pension Trustees. Elections will be held on March 21, 2018.
Irene Lanzinger, President of the BC Federation of Labour, stated that unionization is the key to our society.
"We need to be and to give a voice to all workers, either they are unionized or not; we need to take the benefits won over the years by strong and active unions to other workers," she stated. "The majority of workers who do not benefit from the minimum wage are women or people of colour. Now is the time to change this reality and to work towards inclusivity."
Aaron Ekman, Secretary-Treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour, stated that there should be no barriers dividing workers, nationality, sexual orientation, nor race:
"A union needs to be opened to the workers worldwide," he stated, "because the companies are not going smaller, they are going transnational. So should we, so that what we are doing here is benefiting you and the rest of the workers in the country, and elsewhere."
Two spokespersons for the "Be More Than a Bystander" initiative in BC, Angus Reid, former BC Lions player, and Tracy Porteous, EVA BC Executive Director, talked about the importance of breaking the silence on violence against women.
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The Telecommunications Workers Union, United Steelworkers National Local 1944