The Society’s annual Council meeting focused delegates on how to mobilize to make work fair for everyone.
In President Scott Travers’s keynote address on Sunday, November 13, he stressed that “the best way to protect what we (Society members) have is to make sure others get it. And the best way for others to get what we have is with a union.” Travers noted that one of the greatest risks to Society members is politicians and special interest groups that try to divide workers by stoking jealousies.
Travers also spoke of the increasing importance of the external environment to The Society’s bargaining tables. Highlighting the highly politicized nature of decision-making within Ontario’s energy system, Travers told delegates that “the external environment is at least as responsible for what we see at the bargaining table as our employers.” Using the example of the Darlington and Bruce refurbishments, where The Society participated in lobbying and paid advertising, Travers made the case that The Society must continue to be activist in its approach to government relations and commit to building alliances with labour and community groups where our interests align.
Council delegates also heard 10 inspiring speakers to prepare them for the work ahead including:
- Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff, who spoke about the need to raise all workers’ boats with universal retirement security through the Canada Pension Plan.
- Dr. Elaine Bernard of the Harvard Law School addressed the need for the labour movement to adapt to new forms of work so it can again have influence on the labour market that forces employers to treat workers in all types of employment relationships with dignity.
- IFPTE President Greg Junemann and Secretary-Treasurer Paul Shearon looked at the impending impact of Donald Trump’s presidency on IFPTE and the global labour movement.
- A panel of Ontario Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Patty Coates, Canadian Labour Congress researcher Emily Norgang and Toronto Community Benefits Executive Director Rosemarie Powell looked at the state of work for youth and people from marginalized communities, and looked at the opportunities for government to use infrastructure projects as a tool for improving training and employment opportunities for people at all levels of the workforce.
- Society Staff Officer Blaine Donais spoke about The Society’s investigation of a career hall model to bring benefits and training to professional contractors to improve their stability within the labour market.
Delegates also received tips on how to effectively lobby governments at all levels from IFPTE Legislative Director Matt Biggs, and took part in consultative workshops on education, government relations and communications.
Additionally, Council conducted its regular business. This included adopting new and amended policies on a range of topics such as internal financial management, workplace health and safety and support for members participating in union business.
Documents from the council meeting, including Principal Officers’ reports, approved policies and many of the slide decks used for presentations, are available in the Members Only section of the web site.