Thursday, June 30, 2005

BCGEU Convention Update

Heyman Returned As BCGEU Chief
CKNW, (June 27 2005).

VANCOUVER(CKNWAM980) - George Heyman
has been re-elected for another three-year term as
President of the BC Government and Service Employees'

Heyman, who first became President in 1999, ran unopposed.

Delegates at the Union's convention also elected Judi Filion
as Secretary-Treasurer. Four vice-presidents were also elected:
Mike Clarke and Darryl Walker were re-elected;
newly elected are Colleen Jones and Lorene Oikawa.
Game on. This is the team that will be leading BCGEU into a
very important time, spring 2005, when the collective agree-
ment of thousands of workers around the province will be finished
and in need of negotiations. Interesting times that's for sure.

Convention was quite an interesting event. Let's just say the saying
politics as a blood sport have a whole new meaning to me now.
Since it was a constitutional convention, most of the time was
used to go through resolutions ad infinitum. Some good ones didn't
even make it to the floor though. There were a lot of impassioned
speakers and information shared about what led to the resolutions.

Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for HIV/
AIDS in Africa, was the keynote speaker. He was one of the best
speaker's I've ever heard. He had the entire audience in laughter,
tears, thought, care and concern for our neighbours in Africa,
especially the legions of children who live & die there, victims of
the greed of the Western nations as much as the epidemic of HIV/
AIDS. His speech was a great reminder that we need to stop being
so localized, insular and self-interested in our thinking and truly
remember that we are all global citizens. Our actions (or inactions)
here in Canada, can deeply affect the well-being of those in Africa.

Carole James & Jim Sinclair both came gave speeches too. They didn't
say anything one wouldn't expect to a room full of labour activists
going into a bargaining year. Rah, rah, rah.

The most interesting thing about it all was the election for female
vice president. Three women were nomimated from the convention
floor against 2 candidates, Lorene Oikawa & Ann Chambers, who had
been actively campaigning for some time. Colleen Watson threw her
name into the ring late. Colleen Jones (Component 5 - Liquor Stores)
was the spoiler. She came out of nowhere, but her low-key, "average
working woman" humble approach obviously worked magic on
delegates, because even surprising herself it seemed, she was elected.
As she said in her winning speech, she didn't expect to come to con-
vention as a delegate and leave as a vice president. To me it was a
really good example of democracy at work within BCGEU. Anything
is possible.

A lot of emphasis was put on improving communications within the
union and with members. Hopefully the new Provincial Executive
will follow through on their commitments to this. There will never
be a more important time for communication and cohesion in
BCGEU than over this next year.
BCGEU: Convention Update
June 30, 2005

Lower union dues, strong support for stewards, increased
contact with members, and new officers highlight 2005

Convention delegates also endorsed a resolution put forward by
the union’s provincial executive to lower union dues from the
current 2 per cent to 1.85 per cent of gross pay effective the
first full pay period in August 2005.

"Members have strongly supported our effort to fight the
Campbell Liberals’ attack on public sector workers over the
past four years," said president George Heyman. "Now that
our financial position is stable and we have the largest
defence fund ever in the event of strikes, our members
deserve a break on their union dues."

In her last financial presentation to convention as chair of
the convention finance committee, retiring secretary-
treasurer Diane Wood reported a substantial increase in
the union’s defence fund, to more than $18 million. In
addition to the defence fund, the union has also allocated
more than $2 million to a fight-back reserve fund to
complement annual budget allocations to campaigns in
defence of jobs and public services, leaving a year-end
total of $26.5 million in defense assets.

"We’re in a strong position heading into bargaining next
year for about 50,000 of our members, and we’ll make
sure our members get the very best agreements possible
– agreements that provide stability, job security and fair
wage increases."

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