"He touched the lives of thousands of workers, at the bargaining table and at the provincial legislature. John's passion for equality and fairness inspired so many to follow in his footsteps." — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Vancouver (27 March 2017) — It is with a sad heart that members of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) mourns the passing of a dedicated and influencial trade unionist, John Shields.
Over Shields' 15 years at the helm of BCGEU/NUPGE, advancing civil rights was his priority
Shields served as the President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) between 1984 and 1999.
Shields helped form B.C.'s first union for social service workers — the Social Service Employees' Union. He led that union into the BCGEU/NUPGE.
Perhaps his most significant achievement was negotiating pay equity for BCGEU/NUPGE members in the B.C. public service in 1990. Other occupational sectors, such as health, colleges, and community social services would follow suit in later years.
Shields also implemented additional efforts to organize new members, especially First Nations workers.
Shields was a thoughtful, inspiring leader
Since leaving the BCGEU/NUPGE, Shields worked for the Land Conservancy of BC, and held teaching posts at the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University.
"It’s a sad day for the BCGEU/NUPGE. John was a great friend to me and so many of us at the BCGEU/NUPGE and within the labour movement nationally,” said Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President. “He stayed connected with us even after he retired. We’ll miss John’s wisdom and fellowship tremendously.”
Shields held a Masters Degree in Theology. He worked with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in the U.S. He went on to teach popular theology in Canada and the U.S. before moving to B.C. in 1969.
Shields was well respected throughout the labour movement. He remained a great friend to many at the BCGEU/NUPGE, and at NUPGE, providing insightful guidance and leadership.
Shields continued to attend NUPGE Conventions as a life member.
Condolences to his family, friends and members of BCGEU/NUPGE
"John certainly made his mark on the trade union movement," said Larry Brown, NUPGE President. "He touched the lives of thousands of workers, at the bargaining table and at the provincial legislature. John's passion for equality and fairness inspired so many to follow in his footsteps."
"John was a great friend to us, and we offer our condolences to his family and friends. Rest in peace, Brother," said Brown.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 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