The FSA joined the BC Federation of Labour (BC Fed) on a trial membership just prior to the Federation’s 2016 convention. The convention spanned the week of Nov 28 – Dec 2, 2016 and welcomed over 1,000 delegates and guests from around BC. An opening speech by BC Fed President Irene Lanzinger included acknowledgment that she serves as the first women president in the BC Fed’s history. She encouraged the labour movement to support women to move into leadership and focus on increasing rights for all workers – unionized and non-unionized – in BC. Lanzinger’s speech set the stage for a suite of resolutions throughout the week that addressed inequity for people in the trans-community, for seniors, for children, and for workers across the province. An outline of the resolutions is available in the convention materials package.
BC Fed committees reported on their work partnering with community organizations such as the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, Protein for People Project, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, and Migrante BC. The delegates voted in favour of a motion highlighting the need for a national home support program and asks the provincial government to increase funding to community health and social services.
Many resolutions spoke directly to the work of FSA members, including calls to make the first year of post-secondary education tuition-free, measures to ease student debt, and a royal commission on education funding. Delegates voted in favour of a quota of 25% apprenticeships on public infrastructure projects. Delegates also endorsed the implementation of the psychological health and safety standard and efforts to combat the raiding of other unions by the BC Nurses Union. Specific actions the BC Fed will take coming out of the convention include the convening of a conference on a just transition to an environmentally sustainable economy and the development of a strike policy that addresses work at a distance (such as on-line work and telecommuting)
FSA staff attended two Lunch & Learn sessions during the convention. Labour Relations Reps Heather Neun & Tess Rebbitt attended Restoring Fairness and Balance in BC’s Labour Relations, presented by two union-side labour lawyers who were commissioned by the Fed to prepare a review of major labour law developments at the BC Labour Relations Board and to advance recommendations for action in the event of a change in the provincial government. Their paper is available and covers the primary ways in which the current government has acted since 2001 to reduce unionization and otherwise disadvantage unions and unionized employees in favour of advancing the interests of employers in British Columbia. MEO Kyla Epstein attended Taking Action on Mental Health in the Workplace co-led by the Canadian Mental Health Association, which provided a strong overview of the factors leading to psychologically healthy workplaces and some concrete examples of how their tools have been implemented.
Your first delegation to the BC Fed did not shy away from speaking up for issues that affect FSA members. FSA Vice-President Kenzie Woodbridge spoke passionately against commercialization of the blood supply and homophobic blood collection policies. Paul Reniers, FSA Executive Director, stood to speak about the importance of strong provincial support for public post-secondary education and to the realities facing members in both full and part-time working conditions. Kyla Epstein, FSA Member Engagement Officer, spoke during the Climate Change Working Group resolutions about how the work of FSA members at the Rivers Institute supports the protection of clean water.
The presence of the FSA was greeted warmly by other delegates at the convention and our contributions helped build connections with other unions and labour organizations. Although our participation was rushed given our late admission into trial membership, we have already begun making use of the resources offered by the BC Fed and building the networks that will make us better able to influence labour relations on a provincial level.Leave a reply →