Celebrating solidarity & strength at the 33rd annual National Defence Fund convention

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July 11, 2019

The 33rd Annual National Defence Fund (NDF) Convention took place on July 8 and 9, 2019, in beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Approximately 17,000 members of UFCW Locals 175 & 633 participate in the NDF. The National Defence Fund provides extra support to members on the picket line during strikes or lockouts.

Find more photos from this year’s convention on our Facebook page.

Delegates received a warm welcome and traditional greeting by Elder Thomas Christmas of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax and the Eagles’ Nest Recovery House in Indian Brook, Sipekne’katik First Nation, Nova Scotia. UFCW Local 864 President, Shauna Doyle, welcomed the members as well and thanked the staff of The Westin Nova Scotian, where the convention took place, for all of their hard work.

UFCW National President Paul Meinema addressed issues facing our Union and the labour movement across Canada. A recent announcement that UFCW will be representing Uber drivers in the Toronto area is one of the ways in which UFCW is working to assist employees of the Gig economy. Much of the Gig economy offers only part-time, precarious work often done through third-party employers.

The first morning of the National Defence Fund convention included two guest speakers as well.

Rick Smith from the Broadbent Institute spoke to the crowd about the dangers of the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) and its ongoing presence in our every day lives. Rick is working with UFCW, including UFCW Local 175 Health & Safety Representative Mary Shaw, and Environmental Defence Canada to increase awareness of BPA and its effects on the human body.

Dr. Christina Cloclough, from UNI Global Union, addressed the invasiveness of Big Data and the future of work around the world. She spoke about the importance of requiring corporations to use the data collected responsibly, and ensuring that the subjects whose data is collected also have access to that information.

In addition to National Defence Fund matters, the convention is also an opportunity for UFCW members within certain sectors to meet as well.

Over an afternoon and morning, members and staff from across Canada gathered in sector meetings to exchange ideas, and discuss industry trends and bargaining strategies. Delegates from UFCW Locals 175 & 633 took part in meetings for the hospitality, retail and service, flour milling, soft drink, and packinghouse sectors. In addition, an education-focused forum took place as well over the two-day conference. Members taking part in sector meetings got to hear presentations from industry experts including: James Ritchie, Assistant General Secretary of the International Union of Food Workers (IUF); Kurt Brandt, Assistant to the Director of the Food Processing, Packing, and Manufacturing Division at UFCW International; and Kevin Grier, President of KG Market Analysis and Consulting.

Thank you to the members who took part over the two-day National Defence Fund convention for your insight and dedication.

UFCW 175 delegates from the soft drink sector

National Defence Fund UFCW 175 delegates in the packinghouse meeting.

UFCW 175 delegates at the packinghouse meeting.

National Defence Fund UFCW 175 delegate at the flour milling sector meeting.

National Defence Fund UFCW 175 delegates at the packinghouse meeting.

UFCW 175 delegate Sylvia Groom taking part in a panel discussion.

National Defence Fund UFCW 175 delegates from the packinghouse sector.

UFCW 175 delegates from the retail sector.

In all, UFCW Locals 175 & 633 sent 37 delegates to the convention this year. This included members from:

  • Cargill Dunlop, Watson, and London;
  • Maple Lodge Farms;
  • Westin Ottawa;
  • Pinty’s Premium Foods;
  • Holiday Inn Select Windsor;
  • Safeway;
  • Coca-Cola Barrie, Ottawa, and London;
  • Pepsi Hamilton;
  • Loblaws, Zehrs, and Metro;
  • Highbury Canco;
  • Maple Leaf Brantford and Heritage; ­­
  • P&H Milling;
  • Hertz;
  • Fearmans;
  • Grober/Delft Blue;
  • Prince Foods; and,
  • Minute Maid.

The NDF began in 1986, and that year saw more than 1,000 UFCW members at Gainers Meats in Edmonton hit the picket lines for six and a half months. Another 500 members at the Fletcher’s Fine Foods packinghouse in Red Deer went on strike that year too. Since its inception, the National Defence Fund has supported thousands of UFCW members on the picket line stand strong to achieve good contracts. Participating members can join at one of three contribution levels, which in turn provides them with between an additional $50 to $200 of strike pay per week of picketing.

Find more information on the NDF here.

Want to take a look at last year’s NDF photos? You can find them here.

The 37 delegates to the NDF from UFCW Locals 175 & 633.