2023 Bylaw & Policy Conference
April 18, 2023
On Saturday, April 15, Stewards from across the province took part in the 2023 Bylaw & Policy Conference.
About 300 delegates, Executive Board, staff, and guests filled the convention hall for the day, which began with a warm welcome from UFCW Canada Resident Elder Eric Flett who is Ojibway of the Ebb and Flow First Nation in Manitoba. He resides in Treaty 1 territory and is a proud UFCW Local 832 retiree and past Executive Board member at that local union. He is also a founding member of the UFCW Canada Indigenous Sub-Committee and a retired member of the UFCW Canada Human Rights, Equity and Diversity Committee.
Elder Flett’s presentation include a land acknowledgement and personal stories touching on the Seven Grandfather Teachings: Love, Respect, Wisdom, Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, Humility, and Truth.
President Haggerty addressed the room next with the President’s Report.
Along with videos from several departments at the Union, President Haggerty covered the work of the Union over the last four years since delegates last met at the 2019 Bylaw & Policy Conference.
Acknowledging the difficulties of the last few years, President Haggerty thanked delegates and all members of our Union for their dedication, care, and commitment to their jobs. And despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, the Local Union’s focus on negotiating superior collective agreements, expedited problem resolution, and strong servicing never wavered. With that focus, the Union was able to continue to improve wages, benefits, and working conditions for the members, and work toward expanding agreement language to provide better health and safety rights, anti-harassment and anti-violence clauses, pension protection, and gender neutral and inclusive terms.
After touching on negotiations, the grievance and arbitration process, staff changes, organizing victories, training, and more, President Haggerty wrapped up his presentation by thanking the members of the Union. “It is an honour and privilege to have the opportunity to work on behalf of families to help provide a better way of life. I thank you for the opportunity to work for you as your President,” said Haggerty.
The Numbers! Since May 2019…
- 589 collective agreements negotiated.
- More than 500 collective agreements at 1,100 workplaces enforced.
- 15,280 grievances filed.
- 1,060 grievances filed for arbitration, of which many were resolved before hearing.
- 16 staff retirements with four more slated to retire later this year.
- 27 new staff hired throughout the Local Union including Representatives, Directors, Coordinators, Workers’ Comp Reps, Accounting staff, and Membership Records Representatives.
- 3,023 new members organized at 39 workplaces.
- 2,000 members trained through virtual, online, and in-class courses.
- $352,000 in Solidarity Scholarships awarded to members and their children attending college or university.
- Numerous political lobbying events and protests to fight for the protection and advancement of workers’ rights.
- $243,000 donated to food banks and community support centres across the province, as well as a donation of the Local Union’s van to Shelter House in Thunder Bay – all as a result of your Local Union Executive Board.
Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), who had served as a Vice-President on the UFCW Canada National Council and was also the Secretary-Treasurer for UFCW Local 832 in Manitoba, spoke to the crowd next.
In February 2022, Macleans magazine named Bea number 10 on their Power List of the 50 Canadians who are forging paths, leading the debate, and shaping how we think and live. Bruske spoke passionately about the need to fight, nation-wide, to prevent the dismantling of workers’ rights. She noted how well the labour movement came together in Ontario to fight back against Doug Ford’s attempt to prevent the CUPE strike and his invocation of the notwithstanding clause. She applauded Locals 175 & 633 for being a force in the labour movement and for consistently working to uphold workers’ rights through many means.
Secretary-Treasurer Kelly Tosato presented financial statements for both Local 175 and Local 633 to the delegates.
The overview included revenue and disbursements over the last four years for both the general and strike funds, and a snapshot of the Union’s equity. Secretary-Treasurer Tosato reported that the Local Union is “well-equipped to support our members on the picket lines and fight for good, fair contracts for all workers.”
To wrap up the Financial report, Secretary-Treasurer Tosato thanked the Local Union’s Investment Committee, which is comprised of nine Local Union officers, staff, and Executive Board. “With the sound investments of the Committee and the leadership of President Haggerty and your Executive Board,” added Tosato, “I know we will continue to move forward with sound financial health while continuing to provide the best services to our members.”
Selam Debs, who is an Antiracism Educator, Holistic Life Coach, and Yoga & Meditation Teacher, took to the stage next.
Speaking from her personal experiences as a Black Ethiopian queer woman in Canada, Debs discussed the ongoing need to dismantle white supremacy and systemic racism. From its beginnings as a colonizing force that stole land from Indigenous people and committed cultural genocide in the process, to current day practices, Canada’s institutions – from schools to policing, government bodies to capitalist modelling, media, and more – continue to perpetuate racist ideologies, oppression, and harm.
Debs challenged the audience with some introspection, asking them to consider who Canada is safe for? And whether Black Lives Matter to you? Debs listed numerous microaggressions that people with Black and Brown bodies encounter every day – questions like ‘where are you from?’ or ‘is that your real hair’ and ‘can I touch your hair’ – which are harmful and continue to uphold a white supremacist view on what it means to be human. She further asked the audience to re-learn the histories of Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities – histories that have been erased from our education systems. Learn more about Selam’s work and advocacy at www.selamdebs.com.
Just after lunch, the Bylaw & Policy Committee took to the stage.
The Committee brought forward proposed amendments to the Local Union’s Policies & Procedures to the delegates for their vote. These proposals were gathered from the membership at the November quarterly meetings last year and will be presented to members for their vote at the next membership meetings.
With conference business complete, the delegates were treated to more inspirational guests throughout the afternoon.
Serena Ryder, Juno Award-Winning Musician and Mental Health Advocate, kicked off her presentation with an incredible acoustic performance of ‘What I Wouldn’t Do.’
Ryder went on to give a touching discussion about her personal experiences and mental health journey as she rose to fame. While her career was taking off, and amidst some incredible professional highs, Ryder found herself in a deep depression. Through her experiences, Ryder learned that the symptoms of her depression were telling her something that her body needed – to rest and rebuild. She likened her journey to a caterpillar, which cannot become a butterfly without a journey that requires that caterpillar to turn into goo inside its cocoon, and crabs who cannot outgrow their shells without those shells first breaking apart.
Ryder spoke about her similar need to let herself crumble and fall apart in order to rebuild herself stronger. To wind up her time on stage, Ryder sang a couple more songs for the crowd. She also provided signed copies of her latest album in vinyl for all delegates to the conference as well. For more information on Serena Ryder, visit www.serenaryder.com
Next to take the stage was Karina Leblanc, a two-time Olympic Canadian soccer player and former Head of Women’s Football, The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).
Karina’s message for the delegates focused on living a life of purpose. She recounted her own story of victories on the field, and personal struggles including a health scare that helped her redefine the life she wanted to lead.
Leblanc, who is now the General Manager for the Portland Thorns, discussed having a growth versus fixed mindset and, similar to the message delivered by Serena Ryder, how important it is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to facilitate that growth. Leblanc left delegates with a message to find their voice and their passion, and she challenged the audience to 48 hours of purposeful living and being the best version of themselves. For more information on Karina Leblanc and her work, visit karinaleblanc.com.
Rounding out the afternoon’s speakers was David Benjatschek who is a coach, speaker, and author out of Calgary.
With his authentic approach and using his own personal stories of loss, hope, and connection, Benjatschek held the audience’s attention as he inspired with a message of how to overcome adversity.
He encouraged delegates to embrace life’s challenges to grow, move forward, and find their purpose, bringing home the theme of the afternoon’s speakers that we should all strive to live a life of purpose and passion. You can find David and his work online at facebook.com/benjatschek.
To wind up the day, returning crowd favourite Choir! Choir! Choir! made their way to the stage to get delegates up and out of their chairs.
The musical duo quickly brought everyone together and had the audience laughing. And in no time, they had everyone singing along to the 80s hit Don’t Stop Believing by Journey. Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman (AKA “DaBu”), who founded the group back in 2011, were at the 2019 Bylaw & Policy Conference as well and they received rave reviews from many delegates. For more information, visit choirchoirchoir.com.
Thank you to all of our delegates for making the 2023 Bylaw & Policy Conference an incredible success! For photos, please visit us on Facebook.
Co-operators Insurance Draw Prize Winners
- Blue Jays Tickets (4 seats for May 12 v. the Atlanta Braves): James Anthony Pathmarajah – Hertz
- Ring Doorbell: Melissa Cybulski – CFB Trenton
- Cineplex Odeon Tickets (Set of 4):
- Art Nadolny – Canada Royal Milk
- Joe Stollar – Dainty Foods
- Gloria Almonte – Olymel Cornwall