Layton Wows the CLC
CLC Vancouver Wednesday 11th May

Layton wows CLC convention

Jack Layton, leader of the NDP and of the Official Opposition, thrilled CLC convention delegates with a rousing speech that called for a united front to strengthen retirement security for Canadians. "Working together we can put pressure on the Harper government to finally improve the Canada Pension Plan," said Layton, "and the NDP won't stop until it's done."

Delegates cheered Layton wildly when he said that Canada now has the largest united opposition in thirty-one years. In addition to fighting for improved pensions, he said the caucus will concentrate its effort on improving public health care and put forward practical solutions so working families can make ends meet. Layton thanked the CLC and the labour movement for their efforts in the election. "We would not have pulled it off without your help. Thank you for everything you have done."

He said that progressives need to build the largest movement for change that Canada has ever seen. "We can build the Canada we want, where no on is left behind." He asked delegates to roll up their sleeves and build this country. Layton was accompanied by recently re-elected MPs Libby Davies, Don Davies, Peter Julian, Fin Donnelly and brand new MPs Jasbir Sandhu, Jinny Sims, and Kennedy Stewart.

Progressives as pragmatists and dreamers

Delegates to the CLC convention in Vancouver were treated to a thought-provoking panel discussion that focused on labour's ability to tell its story internally and to the public. The moderator was CBC journalist Ian Hanomansing. He guided panelists, including pollster Allan Gregg, the CCPA's Trish Hennessy and Alex Himelfarb, a former senior federal civil servant, through a series of issues and perceptions that confront labour.

The panel began with a question about the mood of Canadians. Hennessy rejected the notion that Canadians are angry. She suggested that there is a "slow simmering worry" which breeds fear. Himelfarb said that there are three things wrong with the progressive movement. It has become complacent, relies on nostalgia and has lost confidence in the future. He also said that Canada cannot have "Swedish style services with American style taxes."

Gregg told the convention that the labour movement must first be relevant with its membership and then mobilize beyond the shop floor. He advised delegates to embrace social media as a way to connect. The panelists agreed that labour needs to be better at telling its story. Hennessy said that labour people can be pragmatic and be dreamers too.

Recapturing our space

Delegates to the CLC convention debated a discussion paper called "Recapturing Our Space." The paper says that labour has always done its best when its arguments speak to the interests of all workers. "Our public image and visibility must penetrate everything we do. We must drive and repeat our conviction and support for a positive image of ourselves and for our campaigns."

Delegates agreed that labour needs to find new ways of getting its message out. Speakers referred to the influence of the internet. They said there are more ways than ever to get across unfiltered and positive messages. This can be done by using blogs, Twitter, Facebook, issue-based websites, email and texting.

The discussion paper promised the CLC will produce a guide to developing a quick-response, grassroots communications program that will provide tools and techniques for individual members to use in responding to negative portrayals of unions and workers. The CLC will also create a working group of communicators from the labour movement and from outside to share what works and does not when using social and more traditional media.

CLC officers re-elected

The CLC's four executive officers have been re-elected for a three year term by delegates to the organization's convention in Vancouver. CLC President Ken Georgetti, Executive Vice-Presidents Barbara Byers and Marie Clark Walker, and Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff were all acclaimed in their positions. Each thanked convention delegates for the vote of confidence.

Trumka says "We are one"

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka brought a message of solidarity to CLC delegates meeting in Vancouver - a message of renewed, global effort to organize and re-organize working people the world over. But first of all, he took time to thank Canada's unions for their solidarity. "You were at our side in Wisconsin, in Indiana and Ohio when we called. You kept your promise of solidarity. For that, your brothers and sister to the south say thank you and we will stand beside you whenever you call, for as long as you need us."

Trumka described the growing gap between the super rich and a quickly eroding middle class across America, where the top 10% of income earners took 100% of the wage gains over the past decade, leaving millions of working families struggling to make ends meet. Trumka also brought news of successful new organizing efforts in New York to bring the city's taxi drivers back into the labour movement. He also spoke of the success of Domestic Workers United, which recently secured passage of a Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights in the New York legislature.

Echoing the words of many speakers to the Convention, Trumka concluded by calling on union activists to reinvent the movement with new strategies and modern tactics in order to take on today's global corporations and win prosperity for working people everywhere.

CLC donates to refugee group

The CLC has recognized Sherman Chan, from the Canadian Council of Refugees for his organization's outstanding work on behalf of immigrants and refugees. CLC Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yussuff also provided the CCR with a cheque for $10,000 during the CLC's convention in Vancouver. The CCR's work includes holding governments accountable and fighting for laws and policies which ensure that immigrants, refugees, migrant workers and asylum seekers are not exploited in Canada.

Chan accepted the financial donation and acknowledged the importance of the partnership with labour. He also thanked all those who have supported the CCR through advocacy and active participation in campaigns.

Text Mob for Workers' Rights

President Ken Georgetti asked delegates to turn their cell phones and smart phones on during Wednesday's proceedings as the CLC staged it's first "text mob" in support of workers' rights in Mexico and Colombia.

Hundreds of text messages saying "Respect Workers' Rights in Mexico!" and "Stop killing trade unionists in Colombia!" were sent to those countries' ambassadors to Canada - overwhelming the telephone systems in their Ottawa offices.

Wednesday’s motions carried

Discussion Paper on “Recapturing Our Space”
Composite covering resolutions GR-116 and 117
Composite covering resolutions GR-7; 9 to 11; 17; 31; 33; 57; 59; 82; 94; 104; 127; 130; 143; 151 and 152
Composite covering resolutions GR-156
Composite covering resolutions GR-164; 166 and 167
Composite covering resolutions GR-4; 93 and 103
Composite covering resolutions GR-65; 67 and 145
Correction: The Composite Resolution covering CS 13 to 14; 16 and 23 to 29 was referred back to the Constitution and Structure Committee.
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