New Westminster, B.C. – July 2, 2019– What leadership challenges keep you up at night? That was one of the questions that UFCW Local 1518 President Kim Novak fielded as part of an invited panel at the Canadian Industrial Relations Association’s conference, held at the University of British Columbia.
The panel, titled “Unions, Leadership & Millennials: The Future of the Labour Movement,” featured prominent B.C. labour leaders, including Kim Novak, Sussanne Skidmore, Secretary-Treasurer of the B.C. Federation of Labour, and Karen Ranalletta, President of CUPE 2950.
“What keeps me up and also drives me to want to lead our organization is how to be proactive and progressive in the work we are doing on behalf of members, rather than reacting to the decisions of employers,” Novak said. “I also think about how to shift the motivation for why members engage and participate in our union from solely responding to individual workplace issues to fighting for a common, socially just cause.”
With 40 percent of the union’s membership under the age of 30, Novak spoke from experience when asked about how UFCW 1518 remains relevant to young workers. “Staying relevant means getting out of the union office and into members’ workplaces and communities to connect with people directly,” she explained.
The panel addressed the changing face of union membership and the growing diversity among members. “If we want to build solidarity and power in our union, we need to embrace difference, and learn from a wide range of perspectives and experiences. That’s why UFCW 1518 is working to challenge the status quo when it comes to representation and why we are fighting to make room for voices that have not been heard,” Novak added.
The panel also discussed the need for solidarity and communication among unions in B.C. to strengthen the labour movement for all unionized workers. “When we come together, we learn from each other’s successes and support each other through the challenges we face. That helps to build our collective voice and power to make progressive change.”
UFCW Canada Local 1518 represents 22,000 members working in the community health, retail, industrial, and professional sectors across British Columbia. To learn more about UFCW 1518 and its outstanding work, visit the Local Union’s website.