Retiree Report – December 2015

CHAIRPERSON’S REPORT: December 2015 by Barb Abrams

It is with great sadness that I begin my report today. Many of you who have been to the Retired Workers Conference in Port Elgin will know Tom and Sheila McSwiggan. Sheila passed away on December 8th and Tom passed away on December 10th, 2015. Only (2) days after Sheila’s passing. How sad. Tom was the Chairperson of the Retired Workers Chapter, Local 27 in London, Ontario. Tom also sat on the National Retired Workers Executive for many years. Tom worked at Nortel and fought for all retired members from Nortel when things were going downhill. Sheila and Tom were not very tall people but had strong voices. You would see them at every rally and demonstration fighting for the rights of others. Even had their picture on the front page of the Globe and Mail at Queen’s Park fighting for all. They lived in London most of their lives but had moved to Fergus still working in the Community and Church. RIP Sheila and Tom. You will never be forgotten for what you had done for others.

I attended the “OFL Conference” in Toronto where a new executive was elected. Chris Buckley was acclaimed as the new President of the OFL. Chris is a member of Local 222. Good Luck Chris in bringing this organization back.

We had (2) rallies that week. One for the minimum wage to be raised to $15 per hour and the other was at the WSIB building in support of all the injured workers.

At the “OFL Conference” we heard from the lawyer that represented Omar Khadr, the 15 year old boy who was incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay and the conditions that he endured for over 10 years. I’m telling you, when this lawyer spoke everyone listened as to what this young boy endured over all these years. Omar is out of jail right now and is living with this lawyer in Edmonton, Alberta but wears an ankle bracelet. The lawyer, Dennis Edney fought for the next 12 years to have this young man released.

Other speakers were Hussan Yussuff, Tom Mulcair, Cindy Forester and Terry Melvin, President of the “Coalition of Black Trade Unionists” who delivered a dynamic speech, if you didn’t look up you would have thought that it was Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his presentation. Sid Ryan was given a standing ovation for his presentation and for the work that he has done on behalf of the OFL.

We also attended the “Ontario Regional Council” in Toronto. The retired workers were invited to this council as we do not have a Bargaining Conference anymore and next year is a contract year. The retirees have not received their PCOLA since 2007 and we want it back. Four hundred and fifty (450) retirees and their spouses attended this conference. It was supposed to be a solidarity rally but turned out to be a PCOLA rally. We marched through the conference with signs, banners and some had tee shirts stating PCOLA. Thanks to all who attended from this local. PCOLA is important to retiree’s and we had to have our voices heard. I’m sure that we did.

As of now, we do not have an executive for the Recreation committee. If you are interested in being on the committee, please get in touch with Roger or myself. A lot of people come up to us and complain about everything that is going on down in the Retiree’s Centre but when asked if they want to be involved, the answer is also NO, NO. Well, stop complaining and step up to the plate and help out. We can’t do it all ourselves, help is needed to run the centre and functions that go on here. It is not a lot of work.

The “National Retired Executive” has started a new initiative that will recognize the deceased Local union retiree activist. Chapters and Area Councils can submit the name of an individual and a short bio on their activism in the chapter and community. The RWE will accept (5) inductees each year starting in 2016. This recognition is different from the Retired Worker of the Year. They will be recognized at the RW Council along with the RW of the Year and have their bio and picture put on a plaque at the conference and be recognized on the RW website. This has to be done through their local and have permission from the family to do so.

I’d like to thank all of you who brought in non-perishable goods and gifts for the less fortunate.

On behalf of the Retired Workers Executive, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.