Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the triennial convention of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) – our national union. NUPGE is a union of unions, with 360,000 members in nine Canadian provinces. At NUPGE conventions, it's exciting to be in the room with our counterparts from across the country who represent public service employees and health science workers from east to west.
This kind of networking opportunity allows us to connect with union activists from across the country, and share our strategies for making change. I must say, I was proud of our BCGEU activists! We submitted more resolutions than any other component union, on everything from liquor privatization and public home support, to retirement security for women. Our delegates were not shy about stepping up to the microphones and standing up for what we believe in.
After thanking James Clancy for his 26 years of dedicated service, NUPGE delegates elected a new president: Larry Brown. Larry has been the secretary-treasurer for NUPGE since 1986, and so brings a wealth of experience to the position. Elisabeth Ballermann, who has been president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta since 1995 and a vice president of NUPGE, will take on the role of secretary-treasurer.
We also debated and discussed national policy on strengthening community services, negotiating a new public health accord, and bringing mental health into the discussion on public health. The keynote speakers brought valuable insights on alternative economic models, tolerance and diversity, and the necessity of reflecting on ourselves as progressives.
At a time when nations are questioning what it means to stand together in a united front, the solidarity of a national union is crucial to making the changes working people in B.C. need so badly.