National Council commits to organizing, diversity, and political action moving forward


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The UFCW Canada National Council met in Toronto on May 17 and 18 to focus on the union's efforts to demand fairness for Zellers workers, expand diversity initiatives within the organization, develop additional campaigns to expose Wal-Mart's corrupt practices, and combat attacks on labour from right-wing governments at the federal and provincial levels.

As the union's national executive board, the UFCW Canada National Council meets twice a year to discuss the state of the union and to decide national strategies for strengthening the membership's bargaining power with employers.

Over the two-day meeting, the Council heard a report from National Representative Kevin Shimmin regarding UFCW Canada's Target Fairness campaign. Shimmin said the union's attempt to pressure Target into retaining Zellers workers who are set to lose their jobs is resonating with Canadians and the media and has even inspired workers at other retailers to organize their workplaces. In fact, Paul Meinema, Executive Assistant to National President Wayne Hanley, told Council members that UFCW Canada's Local Unions successfully strengthened their bargaining power by welcoming thousands of new members in 2011. 

The UFCW Canada leaders also reviewed the organization's progress with respect to hiring and promoting equity-seeking groups. Brother Naveen Mehta, General Counsel and Director of Human Rights, Equity, and Diversity at UFCW Canada, explained that the union has made great strides in recruiting women, racialized citizens, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) communities, and aboriginal Canadians, but will need to expand its diversity initiatives in order to better reflect the increasing heterogeneity of the membership and the Canadian public moving forward.

President Hanley informed the Council that UFCW Canada will continue to expose Wal-Mart's corruption and corporate malfeasance at home and abroad in order to raise public awareness of the anti-union retailer's appalling behaviour. He further noted that the union is preparing to fight attempts by rightwing governments to enact arbitrary financial reporting legislation and right-to-work laws while preparing staff to deal with these threats if and when they come to fruition.

Last but not least, the National Council welcomed Egale Canada Executive Director Helen Kennedy, who discussed her organization's important work in battling discrimination against the LGBT community. UFCW Canada and Egale Canada signed a national mutual support agreement that solidifies their relationship in working together on future initiatives. The next UFCW Canada National Council meeting is scheduled for November 2012.