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Over 200 UFCW Canada activists from across the country recently gathered in Ottawa to participate in the 25th Anniversary National Defence Fund Convention. Throughout the two-day convention, delegates participated in plenary sessions, sector meetings and workshops. The convention also took time to commemorate the tremendous difference the NDF has made for UFCW Canada members since 1986 by empowering them with a stronger voice at the bargaining table.
While the 2011 NDF Convention made a special point of celebrating the Fund's quarter-century achievements, the true focus of this year's conference was on the ever-growing need for stronger union solidarity to defend the interests and living standards of UFCW Canada members and all working families.
On July 25, UFCW International President Joe Hansen opened the convention by discussing the tremendous challenges unions are facing in many American states where right-wing governments are waging a ruthless attack on labour rights and employment standards.
UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley followed Brother Hansen with a report about Canada's rapidly changing political environment. "Before the end of November we will have five new provincial governments in this country, and in all those upcoming elections there are many right-wing politicians and political parties who are very eager to drag working families backwards by gutting our labour laws," said Brother Hanley. "As Canada's largest private-sector union we must be on the political vanguard leading the fight to protect our hard-earned living standards and a future that includes more decency, fairness and social justice."
Starting October 3, elections will be held in Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan. UFCW Canada activists are encouraged to contact their local union presidents to find out how they can join their union in supporting pro-labour political parties and politicians in their communities.
The NDF was first established 25 years ago to better defend UFCW Canada packing house members from the possibility of major work stoppages, which were fought throughout the 1980s and included the Gainers Meats and Fletcher's Fine Foods disputes that involved over 1,500 members.
Today, the NDF has become a valued benefit for thousands of UFCW Canada members across the country in many different sectors of the economy.
The goal and purpose of the Fund is to provide members with further financial security during strikes and lockouts.
To find out more about the NDF, contact the UFCW Canada National Office.