Toronto – July 2, 2020 – UFCW Locals 175 & 633 recently attended the 10th International Labour and Employment Relations Association (ILERA) Regional Congress of the Americas, held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hosted in collaboration with the Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA) and Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, the ILERA conference serves as a forum for labour activists, community allies, and human resources professionals to come together and discuss pressing issues surrounding work and employment.
This year’s event featured a wide range of online panel discussions – conducted via Zoom – that explored everything from disruptive technologies and the future of work, to union organizing, to innovations in resolving disputes at work, among many other topics.
On Day 3 of the conference, Tim Deelstra, Engagement and Media Relations Strategist for UFCW Locals 175 & 633, participated in a roundtable discussion on “The Future of Work in Retail: A Critical Discussion of the Pathways to Better Work in the Sector,” with co-panelists Chris Tilly of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Peter Ikeler of SUNY Old Westbury, a state university in Long Island, New York.
The roundtable focused on the challenges facing retail workers today, as well as the concrete initiatives that unions are pursuing to improve working conditions in the sector. Brother Deelstra provided the perspective of workers in food retail, explaining the new realities that grocery workers have been dealing with as a result of COVID-19, and the steps that UFCW 175 & 633 and other UFCW Local Unions have taken to protect food retail members on the job.
Deelstra also spoke about UFCW’s efforts to change the narrative around the value of retail work, noting that the coronavirus has shown grocery employees are essential, front-line workers who deserve fair pay, safe and healthy workplaces, and respectful treatment from customers, employers, and governments alike.
In addition to the online workshops and panels, the conference featured a keynote address from Canada’s Minister of Labour, Filomena Tassi, and also honoured the contributions of economist Bruce Kaufman, an renowned expert in the field of labour and industrial relations. Full videos of select ILERA 2020 workshops, panels, and presentations can be accessed here.
First established in 1966, ILERA provides a forum for academics and practitioners to discuss, research, and exchange knowledge on issues affecting workers, employment, and industrial relations around the world. To learn more about ILERA and its important work, click here.