November 1 2022
“We’re thrilled with the success of this conference. The feedback we’re hearing is that participants didn’t want the sessions to end and want a longer conference next time. In our books, that’s a great indication for future conferences.” ― Bert Blundon, NUPGE President
Ottawa (29 Nov. 2022) ― The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has successfully concluded its’ first young workers conference. The conference took place at the Lord Elgin hotel in Ottawa from November 6-8. It was the first-time young workers from NUPGE Component unions were brought together in this type of setting. Topics were discussed at the Advisory Committee on Young Workers’ Issues (ACYWI) meetings. All topics were chosen based on feedback from the ACYWI.
Day 1 covered workplace mental health, future proofing unions, and contemporary Canadian issues
Participants had a chance to meet informally at the reception held on November 6. Most participants did not know each other outside of their Components. There was a good mix of experienced activists, participants who hold elected positions, and new activists (many of whom for which this conference was their first union event).
The conference was opened and closed by Grandmother Irene Compton. On November 7, participants heard presentations on workplace mental health, future proofing unions (legal strategies and accountability on equity), and contemporary Canadian issues. Each presentation included a Q&A or a workshop. In the future proofing unions session, participants worked in groups to discuss challenges and solutions regarding a series of hypothetical scenarios about racism at work and in union settings.
After the official end of the first day, most participants chose to participate in the Notwithstanding Ford Emergency Rally hosted by Community Solidarity Ottawa. The rally had around 150 participants and heard speeches from labour activists across the country, including NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer, Jason MacLean.
Day 2 covered fighting for universal childcare, reconciliation, and affordable housing
On November 8, participants heard presentations on fighting for universal childcare in Canada, reconciliation, and affordable housing. Each presentation included a Q&A session.
Overall, feedback from the participants via an evaluation survey was very positive. All speakers and topics were well received, with Darcel Bullen (labour and human rights lawyer) receiving high scores and Dr. Pam Palmater (lawyer, professor, author, and social justice activist) receiving perfect scores from all evaluations. The majority of participants wanted a longer conference with more time for facilitated discussions between participants and break-out sessions, as well as more structured social time and networking opportunities.
A positive first conference for young workers
“We’re thrilled with the success of this conference,” said Bert Blundon, NUPGE President. “The feedback we’re hearing is that participants didn’t want the sessions to end and want a longer conference next time. In our books, that’s a great indication for future conferences.”
“Making sure participants get good information and strategies from our conferences is our top priority,” said Jason MacLean, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer. “One of our goals as a National Union is to provide the tools to future generations of labour activists. We’ll continue to do so through multiple forums, but we’re happy to be able to add conferences to our list of how to bring young workers into National Union activities.”