Around the Local
Looking out the window seeing rain and feeling a cold breeze, it has not felt much like summer so far. This wet spring sure breaks a golfer’s heart! The good news is the forecast is improving significantly. I put pen to paper for a few reasons. Firstly to wish all our members a safe and enjoyable summer. Secondly, to congratulate Mark Roy on his appointment to the National Union. Mark dropped a bombshell last Monday morning when he announced he was resigning from his current positions.
Mark is currently the GM Benefit Rep and Vice President of the Local Union. I have known Mark since I started on Ontario Street in the Forge Division. Over the past 30 years Mark has been elected to a variety of Union positions, he has worked on organizing drives, the Bethlehem Affordable Housing Project, organized Labour Day festivities, and the Christmas Dinner for the Homeless for thirteen years. A few years ago I filled in for Mark as Recording Secretary while he was off sick. Mark made the job look easy, but I quickly learned it’s not as easy as Mark made it look!. It takes time, knowledge and commitment to make a challenging job look easy. Mark has always been involved in politics because he knows it is vitally important for our members to have a strong voice in the political arena, he also knows that for Unions to stay strong, we must organize more workers. I’m sure Mark will do a great job with the Organizing Department. I just want to say, thanks for your help Mark and good luck with the new job.
2016 brought considerable change to the Local Union and it has been a busy year, seems like we are going from collective agreement to an election and back to the bargaining table again. Local 199 added five new units this year when Local 523 merged with us. Our new president Greg Brady has taken on the challenge and has done an excellent job representing all our units over the past year. It was also very gratifying to see so many young workers getting involved in the Standing Committee elections and getting elected in the plant. Succession planning is very important, we only have a few years to put old heads on young shoulders and pass on the knowledge that working for 30 years provides. We need to prepare the next generation for the challenges that lay ahead.
Over the past year our new Standing Committees have kicked it up a notch. The Recreation Committee has been very active, they organized; the Christmas Family Skate, sent a team to the National Hockey Tournament and ran a great Ball Hockey Tournament in the spring. Currently they are planning a Family Picnic at Firemen’s park, on August 12th. When I think back to when I started at General Motors, I didn’t know anyone, attending the social events organized by the Recreation Committee was how I got to know my fellow workers and meet members from other units. I hope you will all come out and support this event.
The Education Committee has been very active scheduling educational courses and developing a new course PFYF 2.0. This was the first of its kind, a pre-retirement course to prepare young workers for retirement. I hope to see more of these courses as its very important to know and understand your pension so you can plan ahead.. The Environmental Committee are meeting regularly, have been posting interesting environmental articles and links on the website and are currently planning a cleanup day.(date to be announced)
In 2017, Brother Bob White former President of our National Union and CLC passed, it was a very sad day indeed, Bob White inspired a generation of activist. The Community Service committee is working with the Alzheimer’s Society and National Union to enter a Team Bob White in 173 walks across Canada, a very ambitious campaign to say the least. The Alzheimer’s Walk in Niagara will be on January 28th at Brock University.
The Local Union has a new Communications Committee who have been making improvements on the website and Facebook, they even made a video, which received rave reviews, to promote the young workers retirement planning course. In May, I attended the CALM Convention with Committee Chair Jordan Lennox, I must tell you, Jordan’s enthusiasm is certainly contagious, he was like a sponge absorbing all the knowledge and ideas that were presented. Local 199 received two awards from the Canadian Labour Media Association (CALM) Both communication awards were related to the Seneca Strike. Although Jordan picked up the awards on behalf of the Local Union the award goes to everyone who attended the picket line, showed support online, and who took an active interest in supporting the Seneca workers. I must tip my hat to the 15 workers at Seneca who had to do picket duty every day to keep the parts in the plant and negotiate a settlement.
To all the Standing Committee Members, keep up the good work. I have more to report but I think that’s already long enough for today.