SFL Convention 2017 – Delegate Report
Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Convention 2017 was called to order the morning of Wednesday October 18 with the singing of O Canada. We were welcomed to Saskatoon by Mayor Charlie Clark and Don MacDonald(Acting President of the SDLC). Elder Linklater brought us greetings and welcomed us to treaty 6 territory. After a short break we had a Jingle Dance presentation from Randi Caroline and a panel discussion on the role of organized labour in reconciliation from Max Fineday and Darlene Okemaysin-Sicotte. Nicole White was in attendance to give us a presentation on what was going to be just a small thing that friends have done but has turned into a huge project name Moon Time Sisters. This project gives menstrual supplies to women in the north that are not able to afford them. After Nicole we had a presentation on cannabis in the workplace from Kathleen Thompson. Next there was a panel discussion on green jobs from David Thompson and Donald Lafleur. There is a huge future for green jobs in Canada but there are a lot of changes that need to happen(most noteably in government but that is the subject for another report). To end the day we had a prestation from Ronnie Nordal on how mental addiction has affected her life. It was a very moving presentation and helped me understand mental issues in somewhat of a different light.
The next day started with the Recognition of workers killed on the job ceremony. This is always a very moving ceremony. A candle is lit for every worker that was killed on the job this year. I had the opportunity to light a candle this year in recognition of plumber who was died o cancer brought on by asbestos exposure. After this ceremony we had the presentation of the Bob Sass OHS Award. This award goes to comeone for outstanding work in the area of occupational health and safety. This year the award went to Jesse Todd. Donald LaFleur came back up to bring greetings to the convention on behalf on the CLC and advised us what campaigns the CLC is currently running. Kent Peterson of the SFL gave us a short presentation on where the Own It! Campaign is at right now. We had a presentation by Shane Partridge about Str8Up. Str8Up is a program that offers support to those who are living criminal street lifestyles and want to make postitive changes in their lives. Shane’s story is very moving and if you ever have the chance to hear it I suggest you do. Next was a prestation by Barb Byers and Tim Quigley regardign SaskCrowns 2017. SaskCrowns 2017 has a petition to force the government to hold a province wide vote so that SK people can decide wether or not to sell or wind down any crown corporation. If you have not signed the petition and would like to(and I suggest you do if you would like a say) you can call the COPE union office or you can talk to any executive meber or any prairie councillor. That evening we had the banquet which is always a good time and the food is great. We ha a silent auction at the banquet to support the SFL Summer Camp and Prairie School for Union Women.
The final day we had a presentation from Nicole Sarauer, Leader of the Official Oppossition. Nicole is always a good speaker and does her job very well at holding this government to account.
The rest of the day was filled with reports and I’m happy to say we got through all of the resolutions that were submitted.
The convention ended at noon that day with the singing of Solidairity Forever. I was sitting at the head table and it was awesome to see so many union people singing along.
It was very interesting that we had no one from the Sask Party come to address our convention. I wonder why??!!
1st Vice President
SFL Convention Report
Thank you for sending me to the SFL convention. My favorite panels were Kathleen Thompson, PhD, and David Thompson, from PolicyLink Research Canada. Kathleen spoke about Cannabis and the Workplace. Many employers are not prepared with regards to the upcoming legalization of cannabis. As a medicinal cannabis user she spoke passionately about the health benefits from cannabis on many of the body's systems, and that much of the damage caused by cannabis is exaggerated or untrue. She talked about the need for better classification of cannabis products, in reference to CBD and THC content and terpenes. Terpenes are fragrant oils that give cannabis its aromatic diversity.
My other favorite speaker David Thompson, spoke about the need for a just transition to a green economy. Many jobs are going to be made obsolete as we move away from fossil fuels, and industry adapts to tighter regulations on environment, as well as the introduction of a carbon tax. With the money raised by governments through carbon pricing they can invest this in training workers on how to join this new green economy. This is also a smart policy as business themselves are moving away from fossil fuels. Many coal plants are expected to shut down in the next few years, well ahead of government targets. Low resource prices in the oil sector have also left businesses with little incentive to invest in more infrastructure and capital. The loss of these jobs need to be addressed, and retaining, and providing economic incentive for other sectors to emerge in what was traditionally a resource based economy could be funded by this level on carbon. This would be a just transition where workers are priority one when it comes to planning for the green economy.
October 18 - 20, 2017
Wednesday, October 20 - The Convention was kicked off by President Larry Hubich and a number of speakers, including Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark, Don MacDonald, President of the Saskatoon & District Labour Council, and Elder Linklater. The first panel was about Reconciliation, with Max Fineday and Darlene Okemaysim, where they discussed the role that both Indigenous and settlers play in working together to build up our relationships.
The noon hour saw us march with New Orlean's style horns in a short rally where we heard speeches about standing up to the government and fighting back.
After lunch, former NDP Candidate Nicole White talked about her campaign she is working on, called Moon Time Sisters, that provides feminine hygene products to remote areas in Northern Saskatchewan, and how people can help.
Later that evening, I attended a tribute to Barb Byers, who was the former President of the SFL during the Devine years, and later on went on to the Canadian Labour Congress Executive, and she just retired earlier this year. She is now back in Saskatchewan, and still fighting through the Crowns Petition Campaign.
Thursday, October 21 - Candles were lit and names were read for each worker who was killed on the job, in an always sombre ceremony.
Donald Lafleur, Vice President of the CLC the had a discussion and was giving a Q&A after about the role the CLC plays in the Labour Movement.
A presentiation by Charles Smith about the Byers/Makahonuk Lecture Series and Unions in Court - Organized Labour and the Charter of Rights shows how we have been able to win victories in the courtroom on such things as our Right to Strike, and Secondary Picketing.
Shane Partridge then gave a very eye-opening presentation on behalf of the United Way about Str8 up, a group that helps people who are battling addictions and getting on the path to recovery. The personal testimonial was very inspriational.
Barb Byers the presented on the Our Crowns Plebiscite Campaign, where Labour was encouraged to provide volunteers and commit to canvassing door to door. Several locals from CUPE and SGEU answered the call.
Friday, October 22 - NDP Leader Nicole Sarauer gave a presentation on how they have been holding the Sask Party accountable. A Q&A followed, where delegates reminded the NDP that they need to tell people what they are going to do, not just point at the flaws of the other party.
I was able to speak to some resolutions that I helped to draft, including one on supporting M103. We also had a number of delegates who feel the NDP needs to start becoming more accountable to Labour. This means spending more time telling us what they will do, involve Labour in developing Labour policies, and removing the wage mandates that public sector workers have been under for too many years.
Thanks so much to COPE 397 for giving me the opportunity to attend the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour’s Annual Convention held on October 18, 19, and 20 in Saskatoon at TCU Place.
The Convention this year was interesting and inspiring. There are 3 agenda items I would like to highlight.
1. Reconciliation – The Role of Organized Labour
Presenters – Max Fineday and Darlene Okemaysim – Sicotte
These presenters reminded delegates that we are all treaty people and that we need to find a way to work together to move forward. They address the racism that exists in our communities and gave some strategies on how we can deal with it in the workplace. But the most important piece for me was to be cognizant of the fact that our relations with the Indigenous Community is the same as with all communities: respectful, courteous and open.
2. Cannabis and the Workplace
Presenter – Kathleen Thompson, PHD
Ms. Thompson presented information on how the upcoming legalization of cannabis will affect the workplace and how unions will need to prepare. In particular, currently there is no scientific method that can measure with any reliability the amount of cannabis one has consumed. She also reminded us that we will have to put language into our collective agreements to deal with cannabis.
3. Recognition of Workers Killed on the Job Candle lighting ceremony
This was a very moving and emotional ceremony where we are reminded of all the workers who lost their life just for going to work. It reminds us to be ever diligent in our efforts to make our work spaces safe.
Stacey Dyck Jiricka
SFL Convention Report
October 25, 2017
This year, I attended my second Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Convention from October 18 to 20, 2017. Last year, I was elected as the Chair of the Solidarity and Pride Committee, so it has been a different experience attending Convention as a part of the Executive Council. It has been an unique experience to see some of the behind the scenes aspects of Convention.
In my new role, I did not know what to expect when attending this year. However, I did know that there were two resolutions that I wanted to speak to. Those resolutions are important to myself and my committee, so I stood in support of Gender Neutral Language and Policies, as well as Politics in Pride. I discussed the events that many of the LGBTQ* communities are dealing with in the world today, such as the ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya and jokes about the lives of these community members.
I found that there was overwhelming support on these issues from the convention floor and I know that there was people who supported me. There is a long fight ahead of us and I’m proud to be a part of a movement that wants to help enact change, not only for themselves, but for others as well.
Jessica Boyer Henrion
Cope 397 Member
2017 Annual SFL Convention
October 18 – 20, 2017 TCU Place - Saskatoon
Nearly 500 delegates were welcomed to Saskatoon, and it was refreshing to hear a labour friendly welcome from Mayor Charlie Clark, and his message of reconciliation was noted by the delegates.
SFL President Larry Hubich Convetion address called out the Brad Wall government as liars to Saskatchewan citizens. Brother Hubich was emphatic that workers continue to hold government to account, especially as it relates to protecting the public ownership of the Crowns.
Convention delegates were treated to a Jingle Dress Dance from Randi Candline who explained the symbolism of the bells on her costume mimic the sound of rain on a tin roof and represent cleansing of negative energy from the air.
A Panel entitled “Reconciliation – the Role of Organized Labour Can Play” addressed the convention. Max Fineday,, from Canadian Roots Exchange and Darlene Kemaysim-Sicotte, Women Walking Together, encouraged delegates to recognize the truth of our past, and not to get caught up in the past. There needs to be an understanding that reconciliation can happen. To go down this path, one must take the first step, and recognize the spirit in which the Treaties were negotiated in. A number of ways the SFLK can support the TRC report was to look at specific recommendations and plan actions around them.
The first day keynote address was made by Dr. Kathleen Thompson; Research Director for Tomkat Communications, who delivered an engaging talk on “Cannabis and the Workplace”. With legalization of cannabis in Canada set to occur by July 1, 2018. Dr. Thompson gave a very informative presentation around opportunities, science and societal impacts of cannabis. She called for more science and testing. It is estimated 1.81 billion people in the world use cannabis. Strain science, is seen as the future of cannabis science/research. Dr. Thompson directed delegates to the CCOHS website for a comprehensive White Paper that discusses the implications associated with the use of cannabis for both therapeutic and recreational purposes. It includes information for employers, workers, and others interested in workplace health and safety
A presentation on “Good Union Jobs in a Green Economy” followed; with David Thompson, PolicyLink Research Canada and Donald Lefleur, Canadian Labour Congress, reporting that Green jobs can be created by reducing pollution, and embracing renewable energy. As the coal mining industry is in a natural decline, governments recognize the need to create jobs in the renewable energy sector. With Federal regulations on carbon pricing taking effect in the near future, the panel suggested the revenue stream be redirected to transition to a green economy. Saskatchewan’s current reliance on coal and CCS is not the way of the future. Unions can use collective bargaining to lay a groundwork for a Just Transition from non-green to green jobs.
Ronnie Nordal, of the Nordal LeBlanc Law Office, addressed the delegates with her personal story regarding Mental Health and Addiction. She gave a very personal and honest presentation of how recognition and transparency helped them achieve success in the workplace. She emphasized the keys were to remove the stigma and be non-judgmental.
After a day filled with great presentations, the Resolution Committee took the stage for the remainder of the day.
Day Two started with the Resolutions Committee continuing, until the Annual Candle Lighting Ceremony in Recognition of Workers Killed on the Job in the last year. The delegates participated in a somber and emotional ceremony where the names of those killed on the job, or from job related illness were recognized. The singing of “Working Man”, by Wendy Daku, was very powerful.
Since CLC Vice President Donald Lafleur had to catch his plane, he addressed the delegates next, and reported on the activities of CLC in support of labour and overview of work yet to be done on local, national and international areas
This year’s recipient of the SFL’s Bob Sass OH&S Award was PSAC member Jesse Todd, who was recognized for his tireless efforts in getting an asbestos registry in Saskatchewan. This legislation, has been coined “Howard’s Law’ after Brother Todd’s step-father Howard Willems, who passed away from mesothelioma, in 2012. Brother Todd is the chairman of the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (SADAO), which was founded by Howard and Bob Sass in 2010. Brother Willems was awarded the Bob Sass award in 2012.
Following the next report of the Resolutions Committee, Kent Peterson, SFL Strategic Advisor, gave an update on the SFL campaign, “Own It!” As the Provincial Government announced it would repeal Bill 40 earlier in the day, Brother Peterson encouraged the delegates to engage in the “Own It” campaign efforts and to sign the petition.
Delegates marched on the Legislature on the first day of the Fall Session over the noon hour. This was one of the biggest and most boisterous rallies in quite some time, and the speakers called out the Wall government on its lies, deception and incompetence. After the rally, the Resolutions Committee reconvened.
Charles Smith, Asst. Professor of Political Studies at St. Thomas More College was next on the agenda, and he spoke about his book, co-authored by friend of the SFL, Professor Larry Savage entitled “Unions in Court- Organized Labour and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms”, which chronicles many recent important court cases influencing the Labour landscape. He also announced the “The Byers/Makahonuk Lecture Series”, which resuscitates the Labour Studies program at the U of S. This lecture series has been approved and has received funding and will commence shortly.
Following Dr. Smith’s presentation, the Saskatoon United Way spotlighted one of the agencies they support. Straight Up. Shayne Partridge, a former convicted gang member, provided his personal overview of addiction and gang involvement and redemption with the support of Straight Up.
Tim Findlay USFA; Barb Byers, Campaign Chair , provided an update and strategy action for the SFL “Our Crowns” Plebiscite Campaign noting that nearly 25,000 people have signed onto the petition for the campaign, and indicated they need to achieve 125,000.
On the final day, delegates Approved acceptance of the new proposed budget for the SFL Operating Fund.
Nicole Sarauer, interim Leader of the Official Opposition, provided a great speech highlighting the challenges for working people of the province and negative impacts of the Saskatchewan Party government austerity agenda.
The Convention concluded with closing remarks by President Hubich