MGEU's 65th Convention Kicks Off with Presidential Address
MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky kicks off Convention 2018
Oct 18, 2018
“Over the last two years, everyone on our MGEU team has been working incredibly hard - responding to challenges and making sure the right people are in the right place, getting things done.”
- Michelle Gawronsky
MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky kicked off the union’s 65th Convention – Public Service Proud – this evening with a five-minute video showcasing the members and activists hard at work, keeping Manitoba going and growing.
“Certainly, when it comes to our current Provincial government, the last couple of years have felt like one attack after another on us, the members, and the vital services we provide. So tonight, I’m hoping not only to stir up that fire in all of us, but to share with you how we as MGEU members continue to build our union into a force to be reckoned with.”
Gawronsky’s key message shared the MGEU’s successes and challenges over the past two years, and recognized the importance of using our collective strength, smarts and focus to deal with the challenges ahead of us around three key pillars of activity – bargaining, organizing and campaigning.
“We’ve continued to build our capacity for launching campaigns that engage as many members as possible,” Gawronsky said. “These days, if an employer’s decision, good or bad, is impacting our members, you can count on hearing from us loud and clear.”
Gawronsky recognized that for thousands of members, Bill 28 (Public Services Sustainability Act) has proved to make this round of bargaining the most confusing, frustrating, and anxiety-inducing since the 1990s, and that our union’s response has taken every bit of leadership and solidarity and every ounce of stubborn commitment to ensure each and every MGEU member gets the fairest deal possible.
“As much as these kinds of fights try our patience, it’s essential that we not give up. That’s what the Pallister government is banking on. They want us to blink. And this stubborn President says - over my dead body!”
Gawronsky also reminded delegates that even with all the challenges facing our current membership these days, it remains so important to continue to reach out and grow our membership.
“All Manitobans deserve the bargaining power and security of a collective agreement - and for the MGEU, growth and diversity have been a key to our success. I’m proud to say that since last Convention, we’ve organized 12 new Locals.”
“These days, it’s not enough to be strong. We must be able to demonstrate our strength and our powers of public persuasion. And that means as many MGEU members as possible must be engaged, we all must understand what’s at stake and we all must be ready and able to stand up. We must continue to organize the organized.”
She spoke of the public lobbying campaigns the union has launched over the past two years:
- Care Comes First, which reminds Manitobans what’s at stake when the government makes cuts to health care and privatizes services
- The fight to prevent privatization for Manitoba’s Government Air Services, and the closure of Pineland Forest Nursery
- Speaking out on Bills 28’s wage freezes and Bill 29’s representation votes which pit health care unions against each other so the government can push through freezes and cuts while the unions are too busy to fight back.
Gawronsky reminded delegates that as Manitobans it’s important to remember that we are living a legacy set by the blood and sweat and tears of those who came before us in the labour movement and that by being at Convention, we’re part of this movement.
“When times get tough for us as union members, this is important to remember. Sometimes we’re winning the battle, and sometimes we’re fighting the war. Either way, you are part of a union that’s up to the task to take a lead in our province’s labour legacy. Strong, smart, steadfast - that’s us.”