Hello everyone! I recently had an opportunity to take part in the Grievance Handling and Workplace Leadership course, which is one of the many courses offered at the Unifor Family Education Center in Port Elgin, ON. This amazing resort is located on the shore of Lake Heron, with beautiful grounds and beach access. I traveled to Port Elgin on a chartered bus from Toronto which was a great opportunity to meet other Unifor brothers and sisters from across Canada. We were greeted with a warm reception and assigned rooms and a roommate (all rooms were double occupancy as the center was at max capacity). After meeting my roommate (which they couldn’t have paired better, we are both named Derek) we went to explore the resort before the opening ceremony. At the opening ceremony I learnt I was the only member from Saskatchewan, which they were very excited about due to the fact they don’t get many guests from Saskatchewan. After the opening ceremony we were then off to supper which was amazing just like every meal to follow. The days consisted of classes 8:30am - 4:00pm with the odd evening class.
The classes consisted of many heated but fun discussions, as well as mock scenarios which were designed to build technical skills on the topics of preparing grievances and how to handle an investigation and provide fair representation. I found this very helpful as these are skills I am wanting to build on in my current position as a steward. We also worked on building communication skills and working on actions and strategies for strengthening the union on a local and national level. I found a lot of the best conversation was at the fire pit in the evening. I shared with other Unifor members (which consists of workers from all sectors of work from rail, automotive and transportation, etc.) some of the tactics that our company has been using and the behaviors that we have been forced to deal with the past few years. I was surprised by how disgusted and shocked the other members were that we, Unifor 594, are being treated as if we are so disposable. They shared with me how they have many of the same benefits (wages, DB pension plans) and are not being told they need to buy in and sacrifice these benefits, while putting themselves at risk daily (the majority of these companies are not at three quarters of a billion in the seventh month of the year). After sharing, I was excited to see the passion and support from our national brothers and sisters going forward with our fight ahead. I came back with many new skills and an optimistic new outlook that the executive team with the support of the national will get us a fair deal.
PDD Shop Steward