Today, Michelle Johnston was declared the Society of United Professionals’ new president by the Chief Returning Officer. Johnston assumes her new role immediately.
“Thank you to Society members for placing your confidence in me,” said Johnston, who is the first Métis person and first woman to serve as the union’s president. “I joined Ontario Hydro in 1987 and my union has been there every step of the way for me. Under my leadership, the Society will continue to fight for every member and ensure the next generation have great careers, too.”
“As a Métis woman in the energy sector I have broken through many a glass ceiling in my career. I am proud to lead the way but know I will have been successful if I am just the first and not the last to do it. I look forward to mentoring and supporting more women, Indigenous people and others from under-represented communities as they seek to join our union’s leadership.”
Johnston also expressed appreciation for former president Scott Travers’ leadership over the past eight years.
“Having worked alongside him for the past 8 years I have come to appreciate Scott’s insight, integrity and mentorship. Scott’s dedication to our union was imperative for our growth and he has definitely moved us forward.”
“I wish Scott a long and healthy retirement, and am sure once COVID is behind us, he will enjoy some well-earned time in the Caribbean.”
With almost 35 years in Ontario’s energy sector, Johnston cut her teeth in the labour movement as a picket captain during the Society’s 2005 Hydro One strike. She has served Society members as an elected leader since 2007, most recently as the union’s Secretary-Treasurer. Johnston has also held a number of other roles over the years, including Executive Vice President of Policy, as well as Unit Director for the Hydro One Local.
Johnston says that her top priorities as she assumes the presidency are to:
- Continue growing the Society’s membership to build the union’s strength and bring the benefits of unionization to more professionals;
- Improve the economic, regulatory and policy environment for members’ work through robust government and external relations programs; and
- Sustain the Society’s strong financial position through the turbulent pandemic recovery ahead.
Former president Travers offered Johnston a warm welcome.
“I am so happy that Michelle is the new president of our union,” said Travers. “I know members will be well-served by the strength, energy and wisdom Michelle brings to the role. Michelle has been pivotal to our success over the past years and I know she will take our union to new heights.”
Johnston will be scheduling a series of Zoom meetings later in the spring so members in every local have a chance to learn about her vision for the union and discuss their priorities.