20th NUPGE Leadership School a resounding success! | National Union of Public and General Employees

20th NUPGE Leadership School a resounding success!

"The quality and enthusiasm of leaders coming to our School never ceases to amaze me. They are dynamic and dedicated members looking to strengthen our union locally, provincially and nationally. These are the future leaders of the labour movement." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President

 Participants at NUPGE's 2018
Leadership Development School 

Jackson's Point, ON (24 August 2018) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is celebrating its 20th year of hosting labour activists at its annual Leadership Development School. 

Set in a new location at The Briars in Jackson's Point, Ontario, select representatives from NUPGE Components gathered together for a week of strategic thinking, planning and organizing. The Leadership Development School is intended to develop dynamic leadership within the Components of the National Union. The School provides participants with a unique opportunity to explore key issues for the labour movement, in a relaxed environment, away from the day-to-day pressures of work. It helps Component leadership activists develop keener analytical, problem-solving, and community-campaigning skills, as well as discover ways to deepen public understanding of the value and importance of unions. 

"The quality and enthusiasm of leaders coming to our School never ceases to amaze me," said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. "They are dynamic and dedicated members looking to strengthen our union locally, provincially and nationally. These are the future leaders of the labour movement."

Promoting clear vision, developing capacity to lead through change — participants receive education of a lifetime

The themes of leadership, organizing, and strategic choice are explored during a series of 6 sessions led by Dr. Elaine Bernard. Elaine recently retired as the Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program (LWP) at Harvard Law School. The LWP is a research and public policy program focused on issues of concern to organized labour. Included in the activities of the LWP is the annual 6-week residential union leadership program — the Harvard Trade Union Program. Elaine is a native of Ottawa and has been a long-time trade union activist in Canada and the United States.

Insights and expertise shared 

Every year, the School also invites other speakers to share their insights with the union leaders. This year, participants heard from Larry Brown, NUPGE President, on the issues of accountability and governance in unions, as well as how trade threatens democracy and national sovereignty. Elisabeth Ballermann, NUPGE Secretary-Treasurer, set the tone of the School by welcoming participates and talking about why unions matter and the role unions play in, not only, advancing labour rights but in promoting the social well-being of everyone.

Larry Brown, NUPGE President Yonathan Micael, Larry Williams, Jr., UnionBase.org

Sascha Pedlova-McCllelland, Unions NSW

Union activists heard from

  • Stephanie Ross, Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Work and Labour Students Program, York University, on the attack on unions
  • Johanna Weststar, Associate Professor in the Department of Management and Organizational Studies and an Adjunct Professor in Psychology at Western University in London, Ontario. She is currently the President of the Canadian Industrial Relations Association. Johanna spoke about the contradictions of pension fund capitalism, a subject on which she recently edited a book by the same name. 
  • Toby Sanger, incoming Executive Director of Canadians for Tax Fairness on the role taxes and how tax fairness can reduce the growing income inequality in Canada.
  • Barb MacQuarrie, Community Director of the Centre for Research and Education on Violence against Women & Children in the Faculty of Education at the Western University on domestic violence in the workplace.
  • Larry Williams Jr., President Emeritus and founder of Progressive Workers Union (PWU) and founder of UnionBase.org, and Yonathan Micael, former development engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and now Co-Founder/Chief Technology Officer of UnionBase.org. They spoke about new forms of organizing workers.
  • Kate Kerr, a qualified mindfulness consultant, an international speaker and brand specialist, and Founder of Wake Up Kate!. Kate discussed how activists can create positive change and turn adversity into advantage.

International guests talk labour experience and solidarity

The National Union also recognizes the importance of the relationships we have with our international labour communities. As part of the Leadership School, NUPGE invites union representatives from the United States, Australia and England to attend the full School and share their experiences and expertise with us. Unfortunately, a representative from UNISON in the UK was unavailable to attend but John Westmoreland, Executive Director for AFSCME Council 5 in Minnesota was able to make the trip, as was Sascha Peldova-McClelland, a Legal and Industrial Officer at Unions NSW. They both participated in a session discussing the labour movements in their countries, sharing the successes and challenges unions will face in the coming years. 


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE


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