Unifor National Skilled Trades Council bids farewell to Dave Cassidy

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The Unifor National Skilled Trades Council bid farewell to retiring Chairperson Dave Cassidy and welcomed new Chairperson Ken Anderson at the June 7-9 Council in Surrey B.C. 

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In his final Chair Report, Cassidy told Council that he is looking forward to his new role as Ontario's Skilled Trades Special Advisor, appointed by the government to assess workforce needs in Ontario’s Skilled Trades, focusing on the manufacturing and automotive industries.

“My job is to advance Skilled Trades and that is what I’m going to do in Ontario. I am looking forward to meeting with all the stakeholders to make sure we have Skilled Trades recognized the way they need to be recognized. To make sure that not only do we have enough Skilled Trades but enough qualified Skilled Trades,” Cassidy said. 

Cassidy spoke of the challenges faced by the trades and the battles that Unifor has engaged in to prevent the erosion of Skilled Trades work, telling delegates that he knows union leadership will make sure that the concerns of the trades remain front and centre. 

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Delegates and Unifor leadership paid tribute to Cassidy for his long-standing work to advance and defend the Skilled Trades and wished him well in his new role. 

“Dave, you have fought hard for good jobs for the area and been a leader in the need to protect Skilled Trades in Canada including at our Unifor National Executive Board. You have always led with an understanding that as a union we are an integral part of our communities and must support our communities wherever and however we can. This is how we build better places for all of us,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. 

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Incoming Chairperson Ken Anderson praised Cassidy for his dedicated service and leadership as he presented a commemorative plaque.

"Dave has left us with a solid foundation to build on for the Skilled Trades. He is a class act and an awesome leader. We've all learned from him and continue to learn from him," said Anderson. 

Anderson has served four terms on the National Skilled Trades Council Executive and moved from his former role as Vice-Chairperson to Chairperson at the Council meeting.  

An election for the vacant Member at Large position will be held at the next Skilled Trades Council meeting in Thunder Bay in November. 

“I am honoured to lead this Council and look forward to the work to address the many challenges that face the Skilled Trades, including protecting the standards and work of our members, addressing the lack of apprenticeships and continuing our work to break down barriers for women and equity seeking groups to access the trades,” said Anderson. 

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Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle updated Council on successes, including the reintroduction of ten mandatory trades in B.C., and spoke of the union’s work to push skilled trades issues and to advocate for more mandatory trades, higher standards, and more apprenticeships.

“There is a lot at stake for Skilled Trades workers. We are all committed to continuing the fight to improve conditions for our skilled trades members and as usual, the only way we can be successful is to do it together,” McGarrigle told delegates. 

The lack of opportunities for apprenticeships was highlighted during Council as an ongoing concern. 

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“It’s harder than ever to get an apprenticeship today. All the jobs are coming but I don’t see the recruitment,” said Unifor Skilled Trades Director John Breslin. “I’m very nervous about the opportunities that young people have. There’s a lot going on in industry, but they need to replace apprenticeships - it’s the core for the future.” 

On day two, Council focused on women in Skilled Trades viewing a new video on recruitment and training programs supported by the union. 

“We’re proud of what we’re doing to move women into the trades to make sure they are given opportunities. We know women still work way harder than men do to get those opportunities,” said Anderson. 

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Paul Renaud, National Skilled Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer, spoke of initiatives to support enrollment of women in Skilled Trades programs at community colleges and how the results of those programs are now seen. 

“You remember where they were a year ago and how excited they are now as they embark on an apprenticeship. We are actually making a difference. We are moving the needle,” said Renaud. 

The Bob Chernecki Charity of Choice was awarded by Council to the Washington Kids Foundation. Dino Geremia, Washington Kids Foundation Board Member, accepted the $4,000 donation that will support work to provide opportunities for youth to succeed. 

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“There are a lot of kids who are scared, who lack confidence, kids who have never been part of a team. We help to build them up. To provide opportunities to learn to develop young people who are more confident,” said Geremia as he thanked Council for its support. 

Council also pledged $2,500 to assist striking members at Best Theratronics, who have been on the picket line since May 1, 2024.  

View the photo galleries Day 1, Day 2 

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