Prairie Council celebrates recent successes and sets sights on Saskatchewan election

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Large group shot of PRC delegates

During May 1–3 Unifor Prairie Regional Council delegates took stock of the region’s work over the last 12 months and strategized about the year ahead.

Performers and an elder from the Kahkewistahaw First Nation welcomed delegates to Regina, located on Treaty 4 territory, the traditional land of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda, and the homeland of the Métis.

Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle opened the business of the meeting with a report to delegates about the work of members in the region since the last council. He reviewed the campaigns that are cementing Unifor's role as a force for justice against scabs.

The prairies are a particular hotbed for anti-trans hate, and Unifor members have stepped up to fight back against governments who fuel those fires, such as premiers Scott Moe and Danielle Smith.

“No other organized force in society has the potential power to disrupt the economic order. As a result, employers will stop at nothing to crush unions. The only thing that has stood up to it is our self-organizing and our constant reorganization and growth. Let’s do this, for the kids, for the teachers, for our members, for the workers and people of Canada who are looking for a beacon of hope that there is still a much better world out there,” said McGarrigle.

Manitoba NDP Premier Wab Kinew shared warm regards in a recorded video and thanked delegates for their activism during the fall 2023 provincial election.

Len Poirier, Unifor National Secretary-Treasurer, was present in Regina and reported to delegates about the national office's work to continue to reduce expenses. He reviewed the accomplishments of the Social Justice fund and, in the context of the Shame on Bell campaign, emphasized Unifor's role in holding big business accountable and fighting for wealth redistribution during an era when CEO compensation has never been more ridiculous.

In a fitting end to the first day of council, which happened to take place on May Day/International Workers' Day, the political action committee delivered a presentation about the history and importance of the day.

On the morning of May 2 delegates heard an update on the Fix EI campaign and collectively took a moment to call an elected member of the federal cabinet to demand changes that give workers the income security they've earned.

Quebec Director Daniel Cloutier brought greetings and spoke to delegates about the spreading sickness of corporations with record profits matched by record layoffs. He said that this breath-taking greed, matched with Pierre Poilievre's long record of acting against the interests of working people, is a very dangerous combination that Unifor members must work together to stop.

Delegates were briefed about Unifor's ongoing work to support MMIWG2S families and their search for truth and justice. They were encouraged to participate in the Red Dress Day of awareness on May 5. Many locals were moved to donate money to the Drag the Red efforts in Winnipeg and Len Poirier agreed that Unifor would match the funds.

Hazel Woodrow from the Anti-Hate Network spoke to council and shared useful tools for spotting and combatting far-right meme and trolling to help labour movement activists identify online hate and its tactics—and avoid sharing or accidentally promoting coded content. For example, with "irony poisoning", organized hate groups use racism or other hateful content couched in heavy irony to avoid direct responsibility (plausible deniability) with the "joke" being shared.

Unifor National President Lana Payne helped close the final day of the PRC with her report to delegates. She talked about the global effort to fight back against far-right extremists who have gained momentum in recent years, especially in some areas of the prairies.

Payne stressed that a core part of building a better society is limiting corporate power and ensuring that working people everywhere get the fair wages they’ve earned: 

“We need to fight and organize and do everything we can to limit employers’ power. We do that by building our own power. Every day. With our members. With the community. Wherever and whenever we can,” she said. “We are raising expectations. We are building the confidence of workers. And we are building union power. When we take on a fight, we bring the best of our union and our strength together to win for workers.”

The 2024 PRC closed with a speech from the Saskatchewan NDP Leader Carla Beck, who emphasized the historic link between labour power and the NDP. She shared the party’s vision for growing good, union jobs in the province and encouraged Unifor activists to stay active and invested in defeating the conservatives in the next election: “Scott Moe doesn’t care about workers, and he’s one manager you can vote out of his job!” 

View the election results.

Click the read the recommendations and resolutions adopted by the 2024 PRC.

Media Contact

Ian Boyko

National Communications Representative - Western Region