B.C. Federation of Labour presidential candidate's views questioned
Editor: In your Nov. 1 story (“Langley woman seeks top labour job,”) the candidate for president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, Michelle Laurie, did not present any compelling reasons for her decision to run in the upcoming B.C. Federation of Labour election. Instead, she talks vaguely about a need for change, but some teachers have real concerns about her vision for change in the labour movement.
Is Laurie suggesting that the federation’s decade-long fight to increase the minimum wage was the wrong thing to do? Is she advocating that the labour movement in B.C. not speak out with a strong voice when the provincial government cuts programs, closes schools, privatizes public assets or ignores the growing wait lists in health care?
Is she promoting a new plan that would see the B.C. Federation of Labour be less outspoken on the critical union issues in our province?
For the last decade, it has been the hard work of the BC Fed, led by Jim Sinclair — the person that Laurie wants to replace — that has been holding the BC Liberals accountable for their regressive approach to governing. For Laurie to suggest that all that hard work was the wrong priority for the BC Fed is a source of great concern for many within the labour body.
From my perspective, the labour movement is not about a narrow set of interests. It’s about improving conditions at every workplace, unionized or not. It’s also about making our communities more equitable and more sustainable. It’s a view that Sinclair has worked hard to advance.
Laurie, on the other hand, seems content to advance a less dynamic and socially just vision. The B.C. Federation of Labour is not a federation, as is suggested, that exists simply to protest. It is a federation that represents workers across B.C., workers that Jim Sinclair and Irene Lanzinger have supported during a time when conservative government policies across Canada have sought to curtail the role of unions.
As a union member, I believe the federation’s vision should remain broad, inclusive and supportive of all workers in B.