Sisters, Brothers and friends,
This year, we have done a lot across District 3. We tested our democracy, and it passed the test. We started to engage local leaders and members in new ways. We lobbied and achieved legislative gains for workers and our members. We are bargaining good contracts and winning in the workplace to ensure members are safe and their rights respected. We have organized in new sectors, like Starbucks, and in traditional sectors like mining and sawmilling. And, we are engaging in discussions about the future of our jobs, our industries and our economy, with workers at the centre of those discussions.
We have a great, growing and evolving staff. Added to the strong local leaders and representatives in our local unions, we are collectively making a difference in our workplaces, communities and in our provinces and country as well.
Looking forward, there are many things to do. In addition to bargaining good contracts and defending the rights of our members day-to-day, there are things that are critical to achieve in 2023.
We have to continue to organize workers at Starbucks, so we have enough members to allow them to find a place in our union and establish bargaining on a scale that will transform and sustain those jobs as safe and able to support people in the face of rising costs of living.
Across the District, we are working on our organizing plan for next year, but also looking forward 2, 3 and 5 years at mining and other major targets that will be part of the future economy. Forestry, healthcare, telecommunications and other sectors where we have existing membership continue to be the foundation of our organizing plans.
Another important goal for 2023 will be to build new relationships and partnerships with Indigenous communities and nations across Western Canada. We have seen this can make real, meaningful economic progress for working people, and for rural and resource-based communities. To help us engage, understand and work with Indigenous communities, we are proud and pleased to be adding an Indigenous Engagement Coordinator position in District 3, starting January 1.
In 2023, Steelworkers will work hard to elect worker-focused governments in Alberta, under Rachel Notley, and in Manitoba, under Wab Kinew. I recently had the privilege to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new B.C. NDP Premier, David Eby. Workers in B.C. have seen the value in having a government that cares about working people and I’m confident that will continue under the new Premier. And, we need that kind of government – one that will enhance worker rights, improve worker safety and health laws and take steps to make life more affordable for our families – in other provinces.
In the New Year, District 3 will establish a vibrant and active Human Rights Committee. We need more voices from the 2SLGTBQIA+ community and more racialized workers in leadership positions. More diverse USW members need to be able to take space and take the stage to help us move ahead, stronger, more inclusive and more united.
Finally, it is important that we increase our efforts to keep our workplaces healthy and safe, free of injuries, harassment and bullying and certainly free from work-related deaths. This is not a new goal, but one that we have to continue to set: no worker should ever be seriously injured or killed for doing their job.
The strength of our union is our history, our fight and our solidarity. We all know there are challenges and setbacks. We don’t win every time, but there is every reason to believe that we are back on the right path, and making progress.
Next year will be better than last and if we keep up the fight and stick together, we can make life just a little bit better for our members and all working people, in 2023 and beyond.
Happy holidays and the best of the season to all Steelworkers in District 3, to your families and loved ones, and to working people everywhere.
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District 3 Director