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Edmonton – July 13, 2016 – UFCW Canada activists from across the country gathered in Edmonton from July 10 to 12 for the 30th Annual National Defence Fund (NDF) Convention, marking three decades of the Fund’s success in building strength, fairness, and solidarity for members.
Over the past thirty years, the NDF has provided UFCW Canada members and their Local Unions with extra financial resources and bargaining strength when faced with a strike or lockout.
The NDF Convention provides delegates from UFCW Canada Local Unions with the opportunity to share industry insights, review bargaining trends in UFCW Canada's core industries, and learn new strategies to advance fairness for UFCW Canada members and all working people.
In his opening address, National President Paul Meinema congratulated delegates on their work in building an ever-stronger and dynamic NDF that has attracted thousands of new members in recent years, including UFCW Canada Local 1006A members at No Frills in Ontario and UFCW Canada Local 1118 members at Sunterra Meats in Alberta.
“When it comes to protecting the rights and gains of members, and helping to secure the fairest collective agreement possible, there is no other bargaining resource in the country that offers workers the level of support that the NDF provides to UFCW Canada members and their families,” Brother Meinema told the convention delegates.
"The NDF has always been about putting workers first, with dedicated funding that can help members defend their hard-earned living standards when they need it most. And that spirit continues to guide the NDF today,” he added.
President Meinema then paid tribute to Kip Connolly, Victor Carr, Julius Hoebink, Jim Wells, Bruno Zimmer, and André Ste-Marie – six UFCW activists who played an instrumental role in founding the NDF and growing the Fund in its early years. As part of the tribute, Brother Connolly, Brother Carr, and Brother Hoebink joined President Meinema on stage, where they received a warm round of applause from the 280 convention-goers.
The UFCW leader's comments were preceded by presentations from UFCW Canada Local 401 President Douglas O’Halloran and UFCW Canada Local 1118 President Peter Frost, who spoke about the proud history of the NDF and the key role that the Fund plays in negotiations.
Delegates also heard from UFCW Canada Local 1288P President Dan Smith, UFCW Canada Local 501 member Sergio Noivo, and UFCW Canada Local 832 member Corey Kowalski, who talked about the importance of the NDF in helping members achieve fairness at Covered Bridge Potato Chips, Brault and Martineau, and Diageo, respectively.
As well, Executive Assistant to the National President Barry Sawyer discussed some of the labour disputes that NDF members have weathered this year, including the major victory at Covered Bridge.
Delegates also watched a powerful performance called “Packingtown,” which chronicles the history of Edmonton’s now-defunct Packingtown district, and the struggles that meat-packing employees experienced working at Swifts, Burns, Canada Packers, and Gainers in the 1980s.
For the remainder of the convention, delegates joined their respective sector councils for the packinghouse, hospitality, soft drink, flour milling, and retail food industries.
The next NDF Convention will be held in Quebec City in July 2017. To find out more about the National Defence Fund, click here.