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Building on the strength of the “Local 258 IBEW Shop Stewards Conference 2013”, five days of meetings took place in November 2015 with Local 258 IBEW activists gathering at the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown Hotel in Burnaby to participate in “Building Union Power”.
The two-part conference hosted elected union Officers and Unit Executive members for two days at the “Elected Leaders Seminar”, followed by a strong showing of Shop Stewards who joined with them at the “Local 258 IBEW Shop Stewards Conference 2015”, a three-day learning session that included a specialized training workshop, guest speakers and Keynote Speaker Ryan Walter, former NHL player, captain and Stanley Cup winner, who delivered an impressive and very motivational speech at the conclusion of the event.
Elected union Officers and Unit Executive members began the five days of meetings with two days of intense discussions and presentations from special guests. Brother Laird Cronk, IBEW International Rep for BC, Yukon & NWT, opened the proceedings with an overview of the structure of the IBEW, the First District and history of Local 258.
A very well-delivered and interactive session on Parliamentary Procedure & Effective Meetings was facilitated by Brother Andy Ross, Parliamentarian and past president of COPE 378 (now known as MoveUP). Brother Ross actively engaged the group in discussions surrounding meeting procedures, including motions, rules of order and role of the Chair. What could often be considered as “dry” topics were brought to life as Brother Ross used real world examples and humour in this very informative and educational presentation.
A comprehensive review of the Local 258 IBEW Financial Statement was presented by Lyle Brown, the union’s professional accountant from Culver & Associates, and a brief overview of union communications was presented by Sister Michelle Boudreau, Editor of the union’s news magazine, the Hotline, and webmaster of the union’s website at www.ibew258.bc.ca.
Almost a full day was devoted to discussions on a wide variety of topics, led by Local 258 President Tony Brand and Business Manager Doug McKay. Delegates were joined by Assistant Business Managers Greg Fanning, Dan Giesbrecht, Don McNabb, Nicole Biernaczyk and Senior Assistant Business Manager Jim Greenwell to review the union’s bylaws and structures, successorship, challenges and moving forward with “Building Union Power”.
On Friday, November 20th, more than 100 Local 258 IBEW members who serve as Shop Stewards and work at signatory employer companies including BC Hydro, in Traffic Control, in the Manufacturing and Utility Arborist sectors and from the Private Power Line industry, joined the Elected Leaders as Business Manager Doug McKay and Local 258 President Tony Brand welcomed delegates to the Conference. Greetings were read aloud from IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson and International Secretary-Treasurer Sam Chilia thanking Stewards for the important work they do and apologizing for not being able to join with them.
Special guest speaker Jessica McDonald, CEO of BC Hydro, delivered brief remarks including a thanks to the union for the opportunity to speak. She reiterated BC Hydro’s commitment to working with Local 258 IBEW to review market rates on wages and touched on topics ranging from safety to future capital projects, contracting to the private power line industry and overtime issues.
Delegates dove into a customized day-long Shop Steward Training session facilitated by Brother Jim Watson, Education Specialist with the IBEW First District (Canada) and delivered in a hands-on workshop style that focused on the important role of Shop Stewards in the workplace. Topics included real-life situations many Stewards deal with on an ongoing basis in their workplaces, legal rights and obligations and understanding collective agreements.
On Saturday morning, delegates reconvened and were welcomed by Brother Rob Lamoureux, president of the Burnaby Firefighters Association IAFF Local 323 and the Burnaby Firefighters Charitable Society, who spoke about the collaborative, supportive and respectful relationship between the two unions, citing commonalities in serving the public in their jobs and safety at work. He expressed thanks to Local 258 members for supporting the BC Professional Firefighters’ Burn & Wound Healing Research Lab at VGH, and also noted the reciprocal support of annual golf tournaments and events that raise funds to help local non-profits.
In describing other similarities between the two unions, Brother Lamoureux acknowledged the challenges with collective bargaining. “Burnaby’s firefighters have been without a contract for almost four years,” he told delegates. Efforts to bargain a new agreement are at an impasse and both sides are seeking dates for arbitration. “It’s a very difficult situation and we appreciate your support – thank you,” he concluded.
Brother Aaron Ekman, Secretary-Treasurer of the BC Federation of Labour was then introduced and took to the stage where he delivered an enthusiastic welcome to delegates that was greeted with a good round of applause.
International Vice President of the IBEW First District, Brother Bill Daniels, updated members on the successful volunteer efforts of many IBEW members across Canada that helped defeat the Harper Conservative government in the recent federal election. Thanking Brother Doug McKay and members of Local 258 for their support, Brother Daniels committed to keeping the union updated on the important initiatives the First District will be addressing with the new government.
A condensed review of the IBEW’s recently updated “Code of Excellence” was presented by Brother Laird Cronk. This unique union program helps ensure quality performance on the job is at the forefront of being a member of the IBEW. For more information about the union’s “Code of Excellence” program, please login to the Local 258 IBEW website and check under Shop Steward Resources.
Returning to the Shop Stewards Conference after delivering a popular topic at the 2013 event, lawyer Charles Gordon of the firm Koskie, Glavin & Gordon spoke to delegates on the topic of “Your employer-provided cell phone - are its contents private or not?” that generated a lot of interest. The message from this speech was “if there’s anything on the phone you don’t want your employer to see – don’t put it on the phone”.
Guest speaker Brother Carlos Carvalho from the United Way of the Lower Mainland spoke about the work the UWLM does in helping so many in need in communities across Canada, noting the long standing partnership with Canada’s labour movement and the valued support of Local 258 IBEW. He introduced Brother Rob Munro, Vice Chair of Unit 6 and Campaign Associate who gave an excellent talk about leadership in the workplace and it’s role in serving as a Shop Steward.
Delegates were pleased to welcome Dr. Aziz Ghahary, lead researcher at the BC Professional Firefighters’ Burn & Wound Healing Research Lab at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre at Vancouver General Hospital who gave a very graphic and detailed presentation of the work he and his team perform in the lab, including an overview of their many successful ground breaking discoveries with burn wound healing. He acknowledged and thanked Local 258 IBEW members for their generous support and indicated that when he travels the world to speak at medical conferences, he always ensures IBEW Local 258 is acknowledged as a vital funder of the research lab.
Ending the day was another thank you to Local 258 IBEW members from Angela Chapman, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy at the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation, who also gave a brief presentation about the work of the Foundation
Sunday morning, the last day of the Conference, was opened with an Organizing Report from Brother Martin Duckworth, IBEW District Organizing Coordinator for Western Canada, who updated delegates on the significant achievements being made both locally with Local 258 and across Canada with growing our membership. He acknowledged the important work of Brother Rick Gerrard, Local 258 IBEW Organizer and Membership Coordinator, who together with Brother Brandon Dyck, Lead Organizer for the IBEW in BC and Brother Darrell Taylor, IBEW Regional Organizing Coordinator for Western Canada, have been very successful in bringing more than 120 new members into the Local since the end of 2013. With new certifications in the private power line and traffic control industries, more workers are enjoying the benefits of membership in the IBEW. Nationally, across Canada, the IBEW is also experiencing growth, adding almost 5,000 members in various jurisdictions, and the outlook for future organizing success remains high.
Keynote Speaker Ryan Walter then took to the stage and delivered an impactful, thought-provoking speech that had delegates applauding, laughing and nodding their heads in agreement as he spoke about leadership and what “you can bring to that role”. Walter is a retired NHL hockey player, past VP of the NHL Players Association and Stanley Cup winner. His list of accomplishments is impressive and so was his presentation on Sunday morning. After sharing his Stanley Cup ring with members of the audience, Brother Doug McKay and Brother Tony Brand thanked him and gave closing remarks, including a strong thank you to all the Local 258 IBEW activists who contributed to making this event another successful Shop Stewards Conference.