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Quebec City – July 13, 2017 – UFCW Canada activists from across the country gathered in Quebec City from July 9 to 11 for the 31st Annual National Defence Fund (NDF) Convention, where participants explored innovative ways to build the Fund’s strength, fairness, and solidarity for members.
For more than three decades, the NDF has provided UFCW Canada members and their Local Unions with extra financial resources and bargaining strength when faced with a strike or lockout.
The NDF Convention provides delegates from UFCW Canada Local Unions with the opportunity to share industry insights, review bargaining trends in UFCW Canada's core industries, and learn new strategies to advance fairness for UFCW Canada members and all working people.
In his opening address, National President Paul Meinema congratulated delegates on their work in building an ever-stronger and dynamic NDF that has attracted thousands of new members in recent years, including workers at Western Hog Exchange, Preverco, and Comeau’s Sea Foods.
“Over 93,000 UFCW Canada activists are proud members of the National Defence Fund, and more UFCW members vote to join the NDF every day,” Brother Meinema told the convention delegates. “The power of the NDF helps to strengthen and improve the lives of UFCW Canada members, and the gains that we achieve also raise the floor for entire sectors, which has a direct and positive impact on our communities.”
"With the highly globalized and consolidated reality of so many industries in Canada, the fact is that Canadian workers need the NDF now more than ever,” he added. “The Fund is also essential to making sure that all of our core sectors are places where people can provide for themselves, raise a family, and create a fair future for the next generation, and that is why the NDF will continue to build strength going forward.”
Hosted by the UFCW Canada Quebec Provincial Council, this year’s NDF Convention focused on the impact of current and pending trade deals on UFCW’s core industries, particularly food processing. Activists also discussed what the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) might mean for Canada’s poultry and dairy sectors, where NAFTA talks threaten to undermine our strong and healthy supply management system.
Convention attendees learned that, in response to this development, UFCW Canada has launched a new campaign aimed at protecting Canada’s poultry and dairy industries. As part of the campaign, concerned citizens can send a letter to the ministers responsible for these sectors, urging them to safeguard Canada’s food industry and protect a supply management system that generates more than 345,000 good-paying jobs in agriculture and food processing.
At the convention, participants also heard from economist Angella MacEwen of the Canadian Labour Congress, and Camille Quenneville of the Ontario Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association, who spoke about free trade and mental health in the workplace, respectively. As well, a number of convention-goers engaged in workshops on effective public speaking.
For the remainder of the convention, delegates joined their respective sector councils for the packinghouse, hospitality, soft drink, flour milling, and retail food industries.
The next NDF Convention will be held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. To find out more about the National Defence Fund, click here.