On Monday, May 7, more than a dozen young workers from the Western Region gathered in Saskatoon for a full day conference prior to the Prairie Regional Council.
Participants heard from Charles Smith, Professor of Political Studies at the University of Saskatchewan about class consciousness and the role for youth in the labour movement. Amanda Guthrie of OUTSaskatoon delivered an informative talk about gender identities and how everyone can be a supportive and activist “accomplice” for inclusivity.
Elias Carter, 22, from Regina and a member of Local 4274 acknowledged he felt he wasn’t alone in learning a lot from the conference. “It was really informative,” said Carter. “It gave me a broader concept of what the union does in general and I also enjoyed learning about the methods on how to change things in the workplace. It was good to connect with different Unifor members.”
On Tuesday, dozens of Unifor’s local presidents in the Prairies Region met for a session to discuss current issues in bargaining. Most presidents were available to stay for the Unifor People’s Trade Town Hall later that evening, during which community members joined in a conversation about building the movement for better trade agreements.
The Prairies Regional Council opened on May 9, bringing together nearly 200 delegates and staff from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
“This is a great opportunity for us to engage with each other on the challenges facing our locals, and what we can do collectively to push for better labour laws and policies,” said Joie Warnock, Western Regional Director, about the annual meeting.
On the first day, delegates heard from Ryan Meili, Saskatchewan NDP Leader, who discussed the conservative Sask Party government’s attack on the province’s workers and how his party represents a vision for a better world and raised expectations.
Warnock’s report gave a wide-ranging overview on the union’s activities in the region, including the campaigns in Saskatchewan and Manitoba to fight privatization of Crown corporations.
Throughout the week, delegates debated a diverse series of recommendations on participation in the 2019 Alberta election; how locals can support community coalitions in Manitoba and Saskatchewan working to protect public services; and plan for lobbying the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba on issues ranging from the minimum wage to paid domestic violence leave.
Guest speaker Kevin Breel delivered a thought-provoking presentation about mental health that helped provide further context for a resolution about supporting members and ensuring that occupational health and safety includes mental health.
Former Manitoba MLA Kevin Chief spoke in the afternoon about the struggles facing Indigenous youth in Winnipeg and Northern Manitoba. He urged Unifor members to continue their support for organizations that are working to remove the barriers to reconciliation.
All of this is just what happened three days, the Prairies Regional Council continued on Thursday, May 10.
To view the photos from the Prairies council click here.