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UFCW Canada had an unparalleled presence at the 11th Biennial Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) Convention in Toronto from November 21 to 25. With over 100 activists in attendance, UFCW Canada represented one of the largest delegations at the convention. During the week-long gathering, UFCW Canada activists engaged in numerous conversations with delegates about the union's efforts on issues such as protecting and advancing human rights, preventing the blacklisting of migrant workers, and helping the NDP to make history in the last federal election by becoming the Official Opposition.
As Canada's largest private-sector union, UFCW Canada successfully engaged the 1,500-plus conventioneers through a groundbreaking live news station that provided instant Twitter updates, top story headlines, and dynamic video footage of the conference as it unfolded.
UFCW Canada proudly supported the election of Unity Team candidates Sid Ryan, Nancy Hutchison, and Irwin Nanda to the OFL's Executive Board. Ryan was re-elected President of the OFL while Hutchison and Nanda were elected Secretary-Treasurer and Executive Vice-President, respectively.
The union backed the Unity Team's platform of reinvigorating the Federation by spreading the Ontario labour movement's message to young people, yet to be organized workers, and the general public and presenting a strong, united front against the right-wing austerity agenda of Stephen Harper's Conservatives, Dalton McGuinty's Liberals, and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
"UFCW Canada is fully committed to working with the Unity Team in building the Ontario labour movement and creating a higher standard of fairness for working families," says UFCW Canada National President Wayne Hanley. "Under the new leadership team, the OFL will raise the profile of organized labour in the province, attract new members to our movement, and foster alliances with social justice groups to defend workers’ rights and promote family-friendly legislation."
The union also solidified its role as a leading force within the OFL by electing Pablo Godoy as Vice-President for Workers of Colour, and Amanda Atwell as Vice-President for Young Workers. The two activists spoke passionately about the need to empower racialized union members and secure greater legal protections for temporary foreign workers. Pablo's pledge to bring a fresh perspective and inclusive approach to the Workers of Colour position was widely endorsed by convention delegates while Amanda was elected on her campaign to demand equality for young workers by fighting the province’s student minimum wage.
Early in the week, delegates left the Sheraton Centre to stand in solidarity with Occupy Toronto protestors who were being evicted from St. James Park. The occupiers then joined with union activists to march on Bay Street banks and demand that governments and the corporate elite respect the needs of the 99 percent.
Thanks to the support of local union activists, UFCW Canada played a prominent role at the 2011 OFL Convention. UFCW Canada members addressed a number of policy papers and resolutions on the convention floor and shaped the future direction of the OFL by electing a united Executive Board that will effectively fight for the workers of Ontario.