The BC Regional Council opened on November 25, 2022 with a warm welcome to the unceded, shared, traditional territories of the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation from cultural ambassadors Tmicwts’a Irene Terry Peters and Romie Napoleon James. Delegates were also treated to a performance by Coastal Wolfpack Dancers.
Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle gave his first report to BC delegates in person in more than two years. He reviewed a wide range of union activities both national and regional, including the important fights Unifor led during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said it was a rare moment that exposed the clear differences in priorities between workers and employers, and even as workplaces and communities return to something resembling “normal”, workers must never forget the way they were treated during the crisis.
McGarrigle said Unifor is working to challenge popular misconceptions about the economy, “We continue to hear industry groups and many employers complain publicly about a ‘labour shortage’ … We don’t accept this flawed logic. We think the [economy] is suffering from a good jobs problem, not a labour shortage.”
He concluded with a call to action to grow the union. While Unifor has been successful at organizing new workplaces, McGarrigle said he hopes the region can have an organizing summit in the next year to sharpen the focus on new members and key to successful drives.
In the afternoon delegates heard from the CEO of the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council. Dave Porter joined the meeting by video conference and talked about the work his organization does with Unifor to re-work the antiquated and unfair resource regulations in British Columbia, namely the Mineral Tenure Act.
The final speaker of the afternoon was Unifor National Secretary Treasurer Len Poirier. In his remarks, Poirier emphasized the National Executive Board’s commitment to transparency and accountability, and a renewed push to connect and engage with local unions.
Before recessing for the evening, delegates discussed and voted unanimously in support of the Western Regional Director’s recommendation to actively champion reproductive rights; a resolution to combat violence and harassment against journalists; a resolution to expand the regional council’s activity with Indigenous solidarity campaigns; and a resolution to fight for a worker centred model of safety at work.
A full list of resolutions and recommendations adopted at the council will follow adjournment on November 27.