Unifor delegates from across British Columbia gathered in Richmond on Friday to open the fifth meeting of the B.C. Regional Council.
“Our role is to be a powerful voice and tireless advocate for progressive public policy and social justice,” said Joie Warnock, Western Regional Director in her opening speech to delegates.
Warnock congratulated delegates who mobilized in the last provincial election to defeat the B.C. Liberals but warned that Unifor activists must not get complacent.
“With the NDP in government, most of our task actually remains the same – keep pushing - because no government can create change in a vacuum,” said Warnock.
She told delegates the union will be aggressively lobbying for a fair softwood deal.
“The new Horgan government needs to hear from us to get a new deal for forestry communities who have been left to die by the BC Liberals raw log export fire sale,” said Warnock.
The council was engaged in discussion and debate as it passed several resolutions, including one to support the 12,000 journalists and media workers represented by Unifor.
Unifor’s “Media Action Plan” calls on the federal government to support Canadian news media organizations, and create policy and regulations to address the threat of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google. Unifor’s Media Industry Council will continue to campaign publicly to protect media workers and the important work that they do in our communities.
The council also passed a motion to include Unifor’s workplace harassment language that includes a joint investigative process, into every collective agreement the union negotiates. Speakers at the mic stressed the need for collective solidarity and tools to create workplaces that are free of harassment, bullying and violence.
Over lunchtime all women identified delegates met to discuss different projects underway in the union and resolutions that were submitted to council. Members in attendance also elected Debra Elless from Local 4275 to join the BC Women’s Standing Committee.
Guest speaker Victoria Maxwell entertained the room with an important message. She delivered a powerful personal story about her own struggle with Bipolar Disorder and stressed the need to recognize the importance of mental illness as a major barrier to workplace health and safety.
Another guest speaker, Karen Stokke spoke about the implications of the legalization of cannabis next summer. She highlighted the need for workers to disclose medical marijuana use for safety reasons and the need for employers to have proper drug and alcohol policy.
The council adjourned for the first day with energy and applause. Chairperson Ben Williams thanked the plenary for the debate and discussion during day one, and said “We are just getting warmed up here and have a lot of work to do tomorrow.”
To view the photos of BC Regional Council visit Facebook.com/UniforCanada/photos