2022 NDF Convention: industry trends, achievements, and challenges over the last several years

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July 15, 2022

On July 11 and 12, the 2022 UFCW National Defence Fund (NDF) convention took place in Vancouver. With this being the first NDF Conference since 2019, many delegates were excited to get back to seeing each other in person and catching up with colleagues from across the country.

The opening plenary session for the NDF convention began with a welcome from Elder Shane Pointe, who is a proud member of the Salish Nation, Pointe Family, and an equally proud member of the Musqueam Indian Band.

UFCW 1518 President Kim Novak and UFCW 247 President Dan Goodman – our host Locals while in British Columbia – welcomed all the delegates as well, before UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema took the stage to address the crowd. President Meinema thanked the members for their hard work and dedication, and for continuing to put food on the table and care for people throughout the pandemic.

“Our union weathered this pandemic because of YOU, and all of your hard work on the front lines of COVID-19,” said President Meinema in his address to the delegates.

Guest speakers for the morning also included Jen Hassum, Executive Director at the Broadbent Institute and the Honourable Katrina Chen, MLA and Minister of State for Child Care in British Columbia. Jen Hassum spoke a bit about the origins of UFCW and its ancestral Unions were on the forefront of inclusion and progress in the labour movement and how Unions are vehicles for important change. MLA Chen, who is also a former UFCW Canada member, discussed the importance of having access to good affordable child care, and her ongoing efforts to ensure that universal child care is a reality in that province.

Over the next day, Members from food manufacturing, beef, poultry and pork packinghouse facilities, hospitality, retail, flour milling, soft drinks and more took part in the two-day conference. Each sector, as well as an educational meeting, broke out into individual sessions where members and Union staff could discuss concerns and achievements within their sectors and their specific workplaces. Topics included panel discussions on technological change, such as app-based scheduling in retail, staffing shortages across many industries, the continuation of COVID-19 protocols and its effects on the workers, and much more.

In the packinghouse sector meeting, guest speaker James Ritchie from the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), discussed the impact of concentrated animal feeding operations on climate change. Mark Nemitz, from UFCW International, also gave a special presentation to the packinghouse members, where he discussed how UFCW turned COVID-19 safeguards into better jobs in the long term.

As industries emerge in a post-COVID-19 economy and with new health and safety measures, members had lots to discuss in terms of how their employers handled, and continue to handle, different aspects of the pandemic.

To wrap up the NDF convention on an inspirational note, the incredible Colonel Chris Hadfield. In his moving presentation, Col. Hadfield spoke about having goals and working toward them, and that ingenuity and hard work can take you further than you ever dreamed. ­

For more than 35 years, the NDF has provided additional strike pay when needed to members in participating bargaining units. During the convention, it was announced that for first time, the NDF now has more than 111,000 members nation-wide.

Thank you to all of our members who gave reports, and participated in active and fruitful discussions about what it means to be a worker in this country and in these circumstances.

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