Monthly Archives: March 2015

Off to the Races!

The campaign for Regional Representative begins today! I am excited and honoured to have been nominated for this position, and to have served as Local Chairperson in one of Council 4000’s largest bargaining units over the last five years: the longest tenure by a Local Chairperson amongst the candidates in this election. Elections are always difficult times for the membership, but overall they are an opportunity for us to renew our strength and our commitment to working together towards a common goal. I wish the other candidates the best of luck, and want to acknowledge their commitment to making our Union stronger.

Serving as Local Chair has taught me that the right answer is not always obvious, and not to give up until a solution is found. Over the last five years I’ve dealt with innumerable issues, but the thing that makes me the proudest is: the work I’ve done to bring members back to work after unfair dismissals, and the agreements I have negotiated to maintain the employment of others. Without the countless hours of work put in by the grievance committee, these members would have been unable to put food on their tables or a roof over the heads of their families, and I feel privileged to have played a part in their stories.

My vision for the role of Regional Representative is to increase the participation of rank-and-file membership in establishing demands for bargaining; to protect our rights through the grievance procedure and at arbitration; and to bring my experience and intellect to the nuanced areas of contract negotiation and arbitration. In these difficult years, we need strong leadership from a creative team of people, willing to leave no stone unturned in our pursuit of our objectives. The old ways of doing things will not suffice any longer, and I believe I am the one who can deliver this positive change with an eye to the future.

I hope to meet many of you on the campaign trail; however if I don’t see you, feel free to drop me a line by using my contact page.

Workplace Democracy

Many different things come to mind when we talk about democracy. The most common element, of course, is elections; but is this the only thing that makes a democracy? In fact, the exercise of democracy relies on participation from the people who are directly affected by the decisions made by their leaders. Without this participation, even an organization that has democratic practices and institutions can be undemocratic if not enough people participate in the decision-making process.

Democracy is an important concept to the labour movement. Most corporate workplaces are designed to be top-down, autocratic institutions, where the boss makes the rules and his/her subordinates have no choice but to follow those orders. Unions seek to address this fundamental power imbalance by introducing a democratic element into the workplace: Union membership gives employees the ability to vote for their representatives, bargaining proposals, contracts, strikes, etc. The idea that each member has one vote is important to establishing an important level of equality amongst the employees in a workplace, as well as giving those employees a say into the terms and conditions of their employment.

Unifor is one of the largest and most democratic unions in Canada, where the membership is the highest voice in the Union. Each member in good standing may vote on motions at meetings, stand for elected office, and elect Union officers. Between meetings elected representatives are empowered to make decisions on behalf of their coworkers and are subject to regular re-election.