Delegates at the 2017 Prairie Regional Council were both inspired and educated during the three-day event, held in Edmonton April 5-7. The Council focused on the political battle against austerity, as well as social justice, health and safety, and fair treatment of workers.
In her report, Joie Warnock, Western Regional Director, told the 136 delegates, that “as employers push to cheapen wages, reduce benefits and eliminate good jobs, we too have a right to demand good, stable jobs that support our families and create strong communities”.
Warnock also reflected on several victories in the political battle against austerity measures implemented in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. “The next few years won’t be easy, but we’re a union built for taking the principled path, not the easy one.”
A theme picked up when Jerry Dias, National President, said that he is inspired by the fight against austerity. Dias also reminded delegates that it’s important for the labour movement to keep pressure on all governments. “Progressive governments do progressive things when pushed by progressive organizations.”
Alberta’s NDP government was well-represented as Minister of Labour Christina Gray, spoke about the upcoming review of the provinces labour laws. A delegation of MLAs, led by Unifor member and MLA Eric Rosendahl, attended the Thursday night reception.
Health and safety was at the forefront with education on the dangers of Behavioural-Based Safety programs, which allow employers to sidestep responsibility by blaming the worker. Delegates were also inspired by safety advocate and double amputee Curtis Weber’s story of survival following a life-changing workplace injury.
On the final day, Steve Tizzard of Local 2121 presented on mental health first aid (MHFA). The theme was carried throughout as speaker Victoria Maxwell shared her lived experience of mental illness and recovery, and Jim Demeray, spoke of the work to remove mental health barriers by his organization UnderstandUs.
Prairie Regional Chair Christy Best wrapped up Council with a look to the future. “We have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Best. “Brad (Wall) and Brian (Pallister) need to be aware that we are coming with the full force of our union behind us.”
View photos of Council at Facebook.com/UniforCanada