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Halifax – July 10, 2019 – More than 200 UFCW Canada activists from across the country gathered in Halifax from July 7 to 9 for the 33rd Annual National Defence Fund (NDF) Convention to build worker power and bargaining strength in UFCW core sectors.
At the convention, activists from UFCW Canada Local Unions and the National Office took in two days of presentations and workshops that focused on core industry issues, bargaining trends, and new strategies to empower members as a force of positive change at work and at the bargaining table.
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 has been a defining factor in some of our union’s most important struggles,” Paul Meinema, National President of UFCW Canada, told convention-goers. “And time and again, the Fund has made a major difference in achieving more respect at the bargaining table, in holding the picket line for as long as it takes, and in winning the best contracts possible for members and their families,” UFCW leader added.
Some of the issues explored at the convention included the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and new technologies on UFCW’s main sectors; health and safety issues, such as workplace exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS); and exploring new networks for member engagement to build solidarity and push back against anti-worker governments.
In addition to these discussions, participants heard from Rick Smith, Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute; Dr. Christina Colclough, Director of Platform and Agency Workers, Digitalization, and Trade at UNI Global Union; Kevin Grier, President of KG Market Analysis and Consulting; James Ritchie, Assistant General Secretary of the International Union of Food Workers (IUF); and Kurt Brandt, Assistant to the Director of the Food Processing, Packing, and Manufacturing Division at the UFCW International Union.
Special tribute presentations also honoured two long-time UFCW activists for their decades of service to their Local Unions and as builders of the NDF – Sister Lou Craig, who retired last year after serving as a long-time UFCW Local 401 activist, and the late Brother Peter Frost, the former President of UFCW Local 1118 who was one of the founders of the NDF and who played a central role in the merger of Local 1118 and UFCW Local 401.
On both days of the convention, delegates joined their respective sector councils for the packinghouse, hospitality, soft drink, flour milling, and retail food industries. The 2020 NDF Convention will be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba. To find out more about the National Defence Fund and the integral support it provides to members, visit the UFCW Canada NDF website.