Labour Views: Passing the Gavel

Oct 12, 2021

From October 15 through 17, delegates from all over the NWT will gather online for the 18th UNW Triennial Convention. The UNW Convention is the “supreme governing body” of our union.

A convention is a forum where union delegates adopt resolutions that direct how their union or component will conduct its business and advance its priorities until its next convention. Other than the change in format, it will be “business as usual” for our delegates as they go about the important task of setting out the Union’s work for the next two years.

Delegates are elected from and by fellow members of their respective Locals, and are chosen based on their ability to represent the best interests of all the members of that Local.

Through attending and participating in Local meetings leading up to a convention, every member of every Local has the opportunity to have a say and take part in the decisions that affect all members.

Conventions are also when senior union leadership is elected. After almost 20 years, this will be my final UNW convention serving as President, and I look forward to passing the gavel to the next generation of union leadership.

The covid-19 pandemic has been a major game changer for the world of work. We have seen our public systems strained to the max as the symptoms of underfunding come to the forefront. We have seen rapid changes in how we work and what is required to make things work.

But work we have, because of the strength and resilience of our workers. Workers who have the potential to create real positive change in their workplaces if we stand together.

It is not always easy to be part of a collective. There are powerful forces that will always be lined up against us. Sometimes we will struggle and feel doubt. It may seem to be an easier path to go your own way and only look out for yourself.

The pandemic has highlighted how easy it is to divide people during challenging times. We see it every day in the news, in politics, and in the comments sections. But we can do better.

We can stand with our co-workers and our communities and take action, not necessarily for ourselves –but for our fellow workers, our neighbors, and for future generations.

In the tough times we have to remember that we have weekends, pensions, employment insurance and parental benefits because of all those who came before and were strong in the face of struggle. Our strength is in our solidarity and our solidarity is our strength.

It has been a privilege to stand with my fellow members and share in their achievements over the years. Though the past year and a bit has thrown more challenges than usual at workers, it has also been very enlightening with regard to what needs to be done to ensure a sustainable future.

That future – however uncertain it may seem these days – looks bright, and I am excited to see where our new leadership will take the Union of Northern Workers as we continue to stand in solidarity.

In Solidarity,
Todd Parsons, UNW President