The 2017 Education & Finance Conference
May 15, 2017
On Saturday, May 6, 2017, almost 300 UFCW Locals 175 & 633 Stewards participated in the Education & Finance Conference in Toronto.
Delegates heard from President Haggerty about where we stand as a Local Union with 70,000 Members. His report included figures on the number of collective agreements negotiated in the past two years and the number of grievances and arbitration cases handled. President Haggerty spoke about the merger with UFCW Local 459 and the outstanding work done by our Organizing department as they help non-union workers achieve Union representation with Locals 175 & 633.
In addition to raising the Local Union’s profile, President Haggerty discussed his ongoing commitment to political lobbying and advancing the rights of Ontario’s workers. This includes submitting recommendations for the Changing Workplaces Review, participating in rallies, and fighting to maintain and enhance good Union jobs in this country.
“When we talk about things we are proud of we say ‘MY.’ My sister, my brother, my friend,” explained President Haggerty. “When we say ‘my union’ it brings it home for us. I am proud to be a Union member. And I know you are proud to be a Union member too.”
UFCW International President Marc Perrone spoke about the importance of our Union family and what working people face in the U.S.
“Do we as a nation give in to hate, indifference, and cruelty? Or do we reach for something better? Do we feed division or do we strive to bring people together? Do we offer hope or more despair? As one union family, we are united by our shared values: Values that help define the Canada and America that we seek to build . . .
We do not meet hate with more hate or walls with more walls. We break down walls of hate brick by ignorant brick. That’s what you do here in Canada and that’s what I hope happens in my country some day.”
Secretary-Treasurer Kelly Tosato presented the Local Union’s audited finances and budget.
In addition to facts and figures, she spoke about new programs such as U-Link, which has already been rolled out, and Member Link, which make it easy to access and update contact information for our Members. Once live, the Member Link program will enable members to update their own information and receive an electronic Union card.
Secretary-Treasurer Tosato detailed how the Local Union is working to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) through building upgrades, the website, and more. Detailed financial reports will be available for members to review at June membership meetings.
The next speaker was Major (Retired) Deanna Brasseur.
Dee was one of the first two women CF-18 Hornet fighter pilots in the world. Dee inspired the delegates with her story and her humour. She focused on the importance of setting and achieving your GOALS no matter what barriers stand in your way.
Even though we might not all fly fighter jets, through her upbringing, military experience and her own setbacks, Dee’s story is easily understood and applied to many of our lives and day-to-day struggles. And achieving those goals you’ve set for yourself is the best prize.
Dee’s motivational words brought the audience to its feet and many delegates were able to nab photos with her in the lobby.
Executive Assistant Jim McLean and former Local 175 Executive Assistant Harry Sutton presented Bylaw amendments. The proposals included an increase the number of positions on the Executive Board going forward. The Union will present these amendments to the Members at June membership meetings.
An afternoon of inspiration included a musical performance, spoken word poetry, and guest speaker Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons as well as an update to the Local Union’s history video series (view it on our YouTube channel.)
Delegates were entertained by Maria Dunn’s “Packingtown” music and video performance.
The trio of musicians sang and played their way through a montage of interviews and footage from the North Edmonton meatpacking industry from the early 1900s through to the 1980s, including the Gainers’ strike in 1986.
The presentation included tongue-in-cheek lyrics and testimonials from actual workers in those factories.
Lucia Misch, a talented and creative spoken word poet was up next.
She performed a piece she wrote specifically for our Local Union. In addition, she told an emotional poem of the story of Joe Hill – a union activist who was executed in 1915. The commissioned piece Lucia wrote included calls to action such as:
So to say “we’ve come a long way” is not to imply
that we have made it and can rest and rejoice,
but to recommit to the chase for that vanishing point.
It is to glance back on where we once sat
and remember why we chose to leave that place.
It is to clear way for those who willl follow.
It is to look ahead to the horizon,
squint to capture a glimpse of what could be
to imagine the next leg of the journey
and then to rise to our feet
so we can continue to say,
so it can always be said,
that we’ve come a long way
but a long way lies ahead.
To wrap up the conference, Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons spoke to the crowd.
Pinball spoke from the heart about the importance of what our Union Stewards do every day, and the responsibilities that lay with us. In his words, we need to be team players. We must be responsible for what we’ve been entrusted with as we move forward because “Some of us are not for all of us.”
“We are heirs to access, couriers of freedom, and trustees of excellence,” he said. Pinball was also kind enough to stay back after his presentation and spend lots of time talking to delegates, taking photos, and signing autographs. Check out this video message from him.
Thank you to everyone for your participation at the conference, and congratulations to all of our silent auction and draw prize winners.
See the full photo album on our Facebook page (you don’t need to have a profile to see the album!)