A Message from the President

February 20, 2019

At our February 19 meeting elections were held for Executive Board position. Our Executive Board members can be viewed here. President Stephen von Sychowski was acclaimed to a second term. The following is a message from him about his first year in office, and what lays ahead in 2019. 

It’s hard to believe that it has already been a year since I was first acclaimed to the position of President last February. 

It was a year which was always busy, often exciting, and never boring. 

Of course, in some ways our 2018 was defined by the municipal election. It was an election unlike any that most of us have seen before, with no clear front runner, no single party behind which to throw total support, no possibility or desire for a majority government to be formed. In place of all that, a variety of progressive candidates of different stripes running alongside and independent mayor. 

It required a very different approach, as did the changes to election laws which had taken place just months earlier. 
Together we rose to the challenge, undertaking a rigorous endorsement process and making some difficult decisions. Then we campaigned hard, smart, and with modern tools, to help support the candidates we felt were the best to stand for the interests of working people. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I suspect most of us in this room might change a little something here or there if given the opportunity. But one thing is for sure – we can be damn proud of what we did in that election and what we have helped accomplish for the city of Vancouver.

They said that an independent mayor couldn’t win – and he did. They said that a minority government couldn’t work – and it has.
I am convinced that without our efforts to engage working people in that election, things would look a lot different at city hall.
To be sure we have plenty more work to do. But if we had not acted in that election, we might be looking upon grim times municipally right now.

But last year wasn’t all about the election, we also organized successful events for IWD, Day of Mourning, May Day, and Labour Day, as well as two Union Protein Project community events.

We carried out a pharmacare lobby.

We worked hard toward modernizing our work and using new tools to boost our visibility.

We improved our Facebook presence, established ourselves on Instagram and Twitter, and launched our new website. 

We went from a handful of media mentions the year before, to over 120.

We stood in solidarity with our affiliates in campaigns and on picket lines.

We stood with our fellow workers for peace, democracy, and workers rights from Vancouver to Venezuela, from Port Coquitlam to the Philippine’s and all around the globe.

We helped fight for proportional representation, a battle that unfortunately will have to be fought again another day.

And, of course, we carried out a successful labour education program of over 15 courses. 

We did all of this, and plenty more, and I want to thank you all for your participation in that.

Now, this year will be a little different. Of course, there is no municipal election and no referendum this year, but there is a Federal election on the horizon which we can all look forward to getting active in. And of course, we will again organize our usual annual events, we will continue to build our public profile, modernize, and utilize new tools like social media. We will continue to fight for our fellow workers such as those on strike today at Westminster Savings in Port Coquitlam, and to stand in solidarity with those around the world. We will also run the largest ever labour education program at 20 courses. 

But we will also take some time this year for ourselves, as a council, to strengthen our foundations.This year we need to spend  some time and energy on recruiting new affiliates. We have identified numerous local unions who are eligible to join us and have already begun some of that outreach. 

We will also undergo the Constitution and By-Laws review approved by council last month – another step toward modernizing and improving the way we do our work. 

Plus, we will put a special focus on building our capacity to engage in the municipal political scene in Vancouver, and in all of the municipalities within our district.

2019 is sure to be another very busy, exciting, and interesting year. I am excited to be a part of it all as the president of this council. Thank you for your support.

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