Bringing a Voice at Work and in Government

Back row left to right: Richard Giroux (Local 248P); Doug McKay (Local 248P); Troy Cruikshank (Local 1400); Joel Cossette (Local 1400); Ashton Larochelle (Local 1400); Connor Wahl-Arsenault (Local 1400); Lily Olson, National Office

 Front row left to right: Chris O'Halloran, National Office; Terry Harris (Local 649); Kyle Neault (Local 1400); Jena Clauson (Local 649); Keith Corcoran (Local 649)

Some UFCW Canada activist members from Saskatchewan recently got the big picture on organizing at a workshop held recently in Saskatoon. National representatives Chris O’Halloran and Lily Olson facilitated the three-day workshop. It not only covered how to conduct a union organizing campaign, but also how to apply some of those skills and techniques when it comes to election campaigning.

“One of the things the course covers is the labour laws when it comes to organizing. Here in Saskatchewan the Brad Wall government changed the labour act to make it very hard for working people to form a union,” says Lily Olson. “That’s a reality but it hasn’t stopped us from helping workers who want to organize. A change in government would also help, so we’re working on that too.”

A provincial election is scheduled for November 2011, “so I’m excited about learning workplace organizing skills, and I also hope to apply them on the political front,” says Keith Corcoran, the rank-and-file president of UFCW Canada Local 649, who along with about 400 members works at the Federated Co-Op distribution centre in Saskatoon.

Corcoran was one of ten activists at the Saskatoon organizing session. “The course was really well presented. The role playing was a great opportunity to learn how to probe and connect with people you want to help organize. Some of us are more outgoing than others but the training was great in overcoming shyness and getting ready to step up and motivate people about their rights.”

“I did it to primarily help other UFCW Canada local unions across the province when they have an organizing drive,” says Brother Corcoran. “I definitely hope I can get out soon and use what I’ve learned to help others exercise their labour rights, and also to elect a government that respects workers.”

For more information on organizing training resources, as well as election campaign training and resources, please contact the National Office.



Vol. XI No. 04 • January 24, 2011