It's not just a presidential election that will happen at the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) convention tomorrow. Two other elections to the national executive are being held at the CLC: Secretary-Treasurer and National Vice-President.
rabble.ca has put together a quick overview of each of the candidates:
Candidates for Secretary-Treasurer:
Barbara Byers: Byers is no stranger to leadership. She's been the national Executive Vice-President of the CLC since 2002, and prior to that she was the President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL).
She's the sole candidate for Secretary-Treasurer or national Executive Vice-President who has not declared support for a presidential candidate. In an interview with rabble.ca earlier this month she said that she is open to working with whoever is elected on Thursday. "But I chose not to be," she said. "I feel that I've got the skills and abilities to work with a lot of people."
Like many of the candidates, Byers is energized by the chance to engage more people in the labour movement. "I think after 30 years of being involved in the movement it's really exciting that we are talking again about engaging with our members," she said. "Those people who aren't involved, who aren't likely to ever come to a meeting and may never come to a demonstration."
At the candidates debate, she highlighted her experience managing budgets as the former President of the SFL and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union.
Nathalie Stringer: Though Stringer will be new to the national executive if she's elected on Thursday, she comes with a resume full of union leadership experience. In 1992 she was part of the organizing team that helped unionize Air Transat employees under the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Since then she's been active in CUPE organizing, representing Air Transat workers as both Vice-President and President. She's currently a CUPE national representative.
Like many of the candidates, she has raised childcare as one of her key issues, and spoke about it in her opening remarks at the debate on Wednesday morning. She is also experienced at handling budgets, having overseen them in her work with CUPE.
Candidates for national Executive Vice-President:
Laurie Antonin: Change is the driving force behind Antonin's run for the national executive board. The Teamsters member is passionate, and experienced the struggle of service workers firsthand: she was one of the key organizers of a strike at the Vogue Hotel in Montreal, after which she was fired from her job because of her involvement in the union.
Antonin wants to see change within the labour movement, and believes under her leadership the CLC will be able to engage more people. "People say it all the time -- how do you mobilize? But they just say it," she said. "You want to connect to people? Let's actually find out what their issues are."
Donald LaFleur: As the working father of four and grandfather to seven, childcare is a key issue for LaFleur. The former letter carrier and member of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is eager to see universal childcare become a reality.
He's also a keen environmentalist who currently sits on the CLC environment committee. "There is nothing more important for me," he said. "It's obvious we are all going to die here if we don't smarten up." He emphasizes that environment will be one of his key issues if he is elected to the national executive board Thursday.
Kelly Murphy: "Hell yes" was Murphy's response when asked whether we needed better representation of young workers in the labour movement at Wednesday's all candidates debate. At 32 years old, the homecare worker turned Vice-President of the Nova Scotia General Employees Union (NGSEU), understands better than most the importance of developing young leaders.
She also understands a thing or two about building movements from nothing -- she was one of the driving forces behind organizing the group home where she worked. That experience is what she believes can help build a more inclusive labour movement as vice-president of the CLC.
Marie Clarke Walker: A mentor and a femtor -- that's how Walker described herself to delegates at the Wednesday morning debate. Having already served as the Executive Vice-President of the CLC since 2002, Walker has helped develop the careers of many young workers.
In 2002, she was the youngest person and first ever woman of colour to be elected Executive Vice-President. As the CLC officer based in Toronto, she's headed up projects intended to reach into the city's community groups and allies.
Photo: Kim Elliott
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