After more than two years, the IAM Canadian Territory met in a full Staff Conference in downtown Toronto.
Although most had met frequently via video conferencing, there were many smiles, handshakes and hugs exchanged at finally meeting colleagues and friends in person.
General Vice-President Dave Chartrand welcomed guests, full-time staff and officers in Canada. Chartrand thanked all staff for all the work they did especially during the difficult times of the pandemic. Chartrand also expressed a need for greater solidarity, knowing what the membership wants and needs, as well as a focused view of the future.
International President (IP) Robert Martinez Jr, who came in especially for the conference, recognised the work done by Canadian officers and staff. The IP also thanked all for keeping members involved and engaged and continuing with the difficult work of organising and representing the membership across Canada. Martinez made special mention of the many successes we have had in Canada.
Ivana Saula, Canadian Research Director gave an overview of the Leadership Excellence Assembly of Dedicated Sisters (LEADS), a program aimed at increasing participation of women in the organization, representatives across Canada and the United States.
Director Saula also gave a presentation on the ground-breaking IAM report on automation and artificial intelligence entitled “Charting Change: Workers’ Voices in an Automated World”. The report intends to determine areas of rapid technological change and develop specific strategies to mitigate adverse effects of these technologies on IAM members and their workplaces. Saula also highlighted specific industries which are hotspots Air Transportation, Skilled Trades and Hospitality.
A special dinner was arranged for our Staff, as we have not been able to meet in person because of the pandemic. The evening portion saw all staff and guests recognising recently-retired Grand Lodge personnel and officers:
Stan Pickthall, General Vice-President;
Heather Kelley, Grand Lodge Representative;
Ron Fontaine, Territorial Organising Leader,
Dave Miskolczi, Education Representative at the W3 Center and
Rick Arsenault, Grand Lodge Representative in Atlantic Canada
President of the Canadian Labour Congress, Bea Bruske, gave remarks and an overview of the Canadian labour movement. She also encouraged Machinists to stay involved and continue leading the way in political action. Bruske gave updates on the work the she and the CLC are doing on an international level. Solidarity with others also helps Canadians and the IAM thanks the CLC for the work they do every single day.
Keith Aiken, Canadian Airline Co-ordinator reported on the state of air transportation, carbon neutrality and other issues concerning a reduction of our carbon footprint.
Ferguson is Grand Lodge Representative responsible for Political Action. Derek Ferguson updated all staff on the situation with politics in Canada. With elections in early June in Ontario and in October for Quebec, IAM members have been keeping busy making sure members are engaged in the political process and lobbying candidates and helping those who have committed to helping workers.
Scott Jackson, Territorial Organising Leader for the IAM in Canada talked about the many successes we have had despite the pandemic, but also asked all reps and organisers to keep looking for non-traditional workplaces and sectors where workers are looking for fairness and dignity on the job.
Frank Saptel, Communications Representative for the IAM in Canada, engaged with attendees about the need for making sure all locals and districts have Communicators and work in a network to increase our collective power.
Closing remarks by GVP Chartrand focused on the positive and the challenges ahead of the IAM and the labour movement.