Reaching Higher Together was the title and the goal of the 2010 UFCW Canada Local 401 Members Conference, held April 24-29, 2010 in Canmore, Alberta. The conference brought together more than 180 rank-and-file activists and Local 401 staff; staff representatives and participants from Local Unions 1000A, 1977, 832, 1400; as well as national office staff representatives who helped to organize the sessions and facilitate some of them.
“It was a very invigorating week, thanks to the efforts of all the brothers and sisters who made it possible” said UFCW Canada Local 401 President Douglas O’Halloran. “The members really responded to the goal of the conference: to reach higher and set the course for Local 401 over the next five years.”
The conference focused on building workers’ rights and opportunities through education, workplace empowerment, and growing the strength of the union through organizing. Workshops included Youth 101; Health and Safety; Bullying and Violence; Cultural Comfort; Bargaining for Equality; a primer on navigating the WCB; Public Speaking; Politics and Your Union; and Money Skills — a financial literacy course developed by the National Council Women’s Advisory Committee (see Directions 10.16).
Delegates also got hands-on exposure to webCampus — the UFCW Canada state-of-the-art online learning resource that now offers more than 80 courses, free-of-charge, to UFCW Canada members and members of their families. “We found out that a lot of our members are already enrolled in webCampus,” said the Local 401 president. "For those members who were new to it, they were very excited about the great courses. We intend to expand promoting webCampus to all the members as a real benefit of UFCW Canada membership.”
Bringing the benefits of UFCW Canada membership to the unorganized was also on the schedule. “The Growth and Organizing sessions were top of the agenda, with our goals set to organize 1,000 new members a year for the next five years,” said President O’Halloran. “In Alberta we think that’s possible by focusing on workers within our core sectors. That’s reaching higher together and we’re ready to get there.”
“The success of the Local 401 Conference means a more empowered membership, ready to make their union stronger, says Wayne Hanley, national president of UFCW Canada. “With the vision and commitment of Local 401 and its leadership — and Local Unions across the country — we stand together to defend worker’s rights by growing the strength of the union through education and organizing.”