More than 60 delegates gathered in Yellowknife October 17 to 19 for the 16th Triennial Convention of the Union of Northern Workers under the conference theme, Building Solidarity Through Representation.
Members elected Todd Parsons to his fifth term as President. Gayla Thunstrom was elected 1st Vice President, Marie Buchanan was elected 2nd Vice President and Miriam Gordon was elected Equity Vice President. Regional Vice Presidents elected were Alex Lambrecht—Somba K’e; Chris Potyok—North Great Slave; Lauraine Armstrong—Fort Smith; Roy Courtoreille—Hay River; Val Robertson—Beaufort Delta/Sahtu; Christina Holman—Deh Cho; Ivan Landry—Kimberlite.
Delegates and member observers were joined by leaders including Public Service Alliance of Canada North (PSAC) Regional Executive Vice President Jack Bourassa, Northern Territories Federation of Labour President Mary Lou Cherwaty, Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington and Yellowknife Mayor Mark Heyck.
Barbara Byers, Secretary Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress, gave the keynote address to delegates on the theme “Building Union Power Through Representation”. Public Service Alliance of Canada National President Robyn Benson addressed delegates on the need to protect the gains of past struggles, protect public services, and defeat the Harper government.
Delegates reviewed and approved the UNW’s three-year, $14 million budget, reviewed and passed amendments to by-laws, heard a report on construction of the UNW’s new offices and elected delegates to attend the PSAC National Convention.
Convention delegates attended the October 17 mass rally at the Legislative Assembly, calling for withdrawal of Bill 12, the Northern Employee Benefits Pension Plan Act, and calling for an end to privatization of services at Stanton Territorial Hospital.
A silent auction raised a $10,000 donation to the Lynn Brooks Safe Place for Women. Donations of almost $10,000 were raised for an Ebola emergency contribution to Doctors Without Borders.
Ken Stewart, the departing Regional Vice President for Deh Cho, was honored for his more than 30 years of service to the UNW, and Roxanna Baisi, UNW Director of Membership Services, received her 30 Year Long Service Award.