2016 Photo Gallery
Day 1 - Friday, October 21“Over the last two years, everyone on our MGEU team has been working incredibly hard…responding to challenges; building our capacity and gettin’ ‘er done.”
- Michelle Gawronsky
MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky kicked off the union’s 64th Convention – Keep Us Together – this morning with a four-minute video showcasing the members and activists that put in an amazing effort every day –rising to the challenges in their workplaces and moving the union forward.
“We set out to build our foundation through enhanced Board governance. We conducted an organizational review, assessed our strengths and weakness as an organization and explored what in our own organization might be holding us back from hearing, mobilizing and defending our members,” Gawronsky said. “In the end, we decided we could best fulfill that mission if we focused our efforts in three key areas, or pillars: bargaining; organizing; and campaigning, with a focus on campaigning.”
Gawronsky’s key message shared the MGEU’s successes and challenges over the past two years as well has the union’s plan to keep building for the next two years and the importance finding strength in our unity to withstand what will likely be the most aggressive challenges to our jobs and union values that we’ve seen in two decades.
She also took time to acknowledge the MGEU’s Bargaining Committee’s across the province and the recognition they received through membership polls this past spring. “I’m glad our members are appreciating how these people have been working their butts off ― not to mention putting their lives on hold ―to get the best deals possible.”
The past two years have been full of pickets, sit-ins, rallies, near-strikes and for the first time in 16 years, an actual strike for Macdonald Youth Services, Crisis Stabilization Unit. And while the strike is over, the issues precipitating the strike are still outstanding. “This is our new reality. The good news is we’ve added nearly five million dollars to the defense fund…and our union now has a strategic plan that ensures we are prepared, we are strong, and we are ready for what’s thrown our way,” said Gawronsky.
Gawronsky also encouraged delegates to share the benefits of union membership to their friends and families. That by organizing our own membership, we can demonstrate the strength of MGEU and use our powers of public persuasion — to make sure all Manitobans understand the importance of having access to the bargaining power and security of a collective agreement.
She spoke of the public lobbying campaigns the union has launched over the past two years―whether talking directly to government, through media campaigns like Keep Us Together, which reminds Manitobans what’s at stake if public services are cut; as a coalition partner in Keeping Liquor Public to remind us how our public liquor sales system gives us the healthiest balance, the Fair Deal tour, speaking out on Bills or legislation relating the domestic violence , post-traumatic stress disorder in the workplace, and Bill 7’s attack on unions and taking away a workers true choice to join one should they want to.
“In the past few years, we’ve been working very hard to articulate who we are and what we stand for. And it’s important, because our union is a democracy and sometimes these words, or this vision, can help guide us through times of volatility. To face what’s ahead, we’re going to need to be strong as well as nimble.”
Finance Committee ReportThe MGEU Finance Committee presented their report to delegates along with the auditor’s report. The union remains in a strong financial position with growth in membership, a healthy Defense Fund, a very competitive dues structure and an operating surplus for the 2015-16 fiscal year. The committee recommended transferring the operating surplus to the Defense Fund to increase the fund to over $28M.
Marie Della Mattia – Order of the Day
Marie Della Mattia, President of The NOW Group, who leads the MGEU’s advertising and strategic communications agency that helps produce our TV ads in the last decade, delivered the MGEU’s new message guide. The guide gives members clear examples on how to communicate to the public about our union and the important services we provide to Manitobans.
“As activists in the MGEU you all have compelling personal stories – you’ve done amazing things, you do important work for Manitobans and for the people in the union, you are articulate and strong and you stand for something that has meaning and importance,” said Della Mattia.
Marie reminded delegates that we are at our most effective when we singing the same song as one voice. That together, we can strengthen the goals of the MGEU, and that we must if we are going to counteract the negativity of our opponents.
“Our opponents are organized and strategic. They want Manitobans to think public services are inefficient and bloated so they can cut and privatize public services and people will shrug and say ‘I don’t love it, but it had to be done’,” said Della Mattia. “So how do we stop them? We start with Manitobans and connect with people where they are at – tell them we care about things that they think are important – their families, their communities, the services they count on, our affordable province, working together, looking out for each other."
Della Mattia reviewed our messages, reminded delegates of our strengths as MGEU members. That we work hard to keep services public and that the pressure of shortages in people and funding are already being felt. That we need more people, working together, for better public services and that if we don’t stand up for these services, they’ll be gone and we’ll never get them back.
“Do it all together – in one voice on one team – so that Manitobans can hear and see the results.”
Constitution, Bylaw and Structure Committee
At MGEU’s last Convention in 2014, many proposed changes to the MGEU Constitution were referred back to the committee for further review with the understanding that they would be brought back for a vote at this MGEU Convention.
Delegates debated in detail the proposed changes, especially those related to article nine of the MGEU Constitution. After many comments and several amendments, including inquiries to ensure that members appointed to a discipline committee would be done so if a fair manner, and several delegates addressed the committee to thank the Board of Directors for doing a very thorough job, delegates voted in overwhelming favour of accepting all the Constitution resolutions from MGEU Convention 2014.
Joan Jessome, former NSGEU President – Order of the Day
Joan Jessome, former NSGEU President, spoke to MGEU Convention delegates about the NSGEU Bully-Free Workplace Program that was spearheaded by their union during her tenure there.
"We know that bullying in the workplace is a problem everywhere. One in four Canadians experience mental health issues. Bullying is four times more prevalent than sexual assault in the workplace," said Jessome.
Over 16,000 people have gone through the educational program since its inception in 2010 and it has been recognized nationally and internationally.
"This program was launched by our members. When it came time to pick facilitators, we had 144 applications. Every single application told a heartbreaking about experience with bullying at work. It was so apparent that a shift in culture was necessary when it comes to acceptable behavior in the workplace," she said.
Jessome recommended that MGEU members may be interested in creating their own coalition for mental health and develop a similar program. She spoke to the importance of training our own staff to the take this kind of program so they are able to provide suicide and mental health first-aid.
"As individuals we need to ask ourselves for some compassion and to recognize how we contribute to others' bad days. We have to remember how easy it is to turn someone from a 'shining star' to a 'lights that are out' person by how we treat them. We need to take care of each other so that mentally, you can make it home in one piece."
Nominations for the positions of MGEU President, 1st Vice-President, 2nd Vice-President, 3rd Vice-President, and 4th Vice President were made in the afternoon. The following candidates put their names forward for election:
Candidates for President:
Candidates for 1st Vice-President:
Candidates for 2nd Vice-President:
Candidates for 3rd Vice-President:
Candidates for 4th Vice-President:
Day 2 - Saturday, October 22
Credentials ReportThe morning credentials report was as follows:
Board & Delegates - 381
Guests/Honourary Life Members - 30
Observers & Media - 12
ElectionsElections were the order of the day for Day 2 of Convention 2016.
Congratulations to Michelle Gawronsky, who was re-elected as MGEU President for another term. Wayne Chacun was also re-elected to the position of 1st Vice President, while Douglas Troke was elected as 2nd Vice-President, Shelley Wiggins was elected as 3rd Vice-President, and Charlotte McWilliams was elected 4th Vice-President. Congratulations to Michelle, Wayne, Douglas, Shelley and Charlotte, and a big "thank you" to everyone who let their name stand for election.
ResolutionsOn the resolutions front, members debated financial resolutions concerning things such as how member reimbursements are tracked, the matter of allowable expenses for members travelling long distances for meetings and how to support other union partners during strike action. The members voted to give Standing Committees' the option to hold meetings outside of Winnipeg.
Larry Brown, NUPGE President - Order of the DayNUPGE President, Larry Brown, spoke hopefully about the defeat of the federal Harper government, but reminded us that we must be cautious with the new Liberal one. He focused largely on the CIDA agreement that may now be in jeopardy of not being signed. It was the labour movement that led the opposition charge, said Brown, and we must be resolute in continuing to fight any effort to resurrect the agreement. He also talked about the issue of growing income inequality and how, as trade unions get weaker, income inequality rates rise. This is also bad for democracy. Governments need to tax higher income earners and use the money to invest in quality public services. Brown closed by stating that "our job is to open the door to the future again for our members."
Order of the Day: Kevin Rebeck
After spending the day overseeing the balloting and elections for the MGEU executive, Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL), took to the stage to share how the MFL is fighting for progressive change on behalf of the over 100,000 Manitoba workers it represents, as well as all Manitobans. He spoke of the MFL’s role in urging the previous government to pass Bill 8, the first legislation in Canada ensuring victims of domestic violence can receive five days employment leave to escape their dangerous situation. Next up for the MFL is tackling the current government’s Bill 7, which will make it harder for Manitobans to organize their workplaces or vote to join a union without feeling intimidated or afraid for their jobs.Special thanks to Brother Rebeck for ensuring the elections ran so smoothly and professionally throughout the day.