NOLC elects new president
Getting the membership more informed and involved is one of the goals for 2016 for the new president of the North Okanagan Labour Council.
Nikki Inouye was elected at the council's annual general meeting in Kelowna on Wednesday.
Representing the Hospital Employees Union from Vernon, Inouye has been a vice-president for the past few years.
"We have a lot of contracts coming up this year," she said after the meeting. "I hope to encourage the membership to get involved and to support each other."
Inouye is currently at the centre of the HEU's fight to convince Interior Health to hold onto its laundry department. IH announced last year it would look at the possibility of outsourcing laundry work, a move that would affect 175 employees at 11 sites throughout the region.
In November, IH announced its decision had been delayed until March.
Workers are planning rallies throughout the Interior on Feb. 29 with Kelowna's taking place at 11 a.m. outside Kelowna General Hospital.
HEU reps told labour council delegates Wednesday health and safety of workers and patients, not to mention the convenience of having the work done on-site, could be put at risk if the contracting out goes ahead.
Inouye takes over from Andrew Pritchard, who stepped down after three years as president. Pritchard, representing the hotel-workers union UniteHere, cited a heavy workload for stepping back. The Capri Hotel worker is currently involved in negotiations between Coast Hotels and the union.
Pritchard will stay on with the council as one of three vice-presidents, along with Ronn Dunn (CUPE school workers) and Carmen Belanger (HEU).
Also elected to the NOLC executive for 2016 were Ron Bobowski, Cheryl Stone, Wynn Hartfelder, Helen Repole and Karen Abramsen.
The NOLC has a number of events it will be involved in or will be organizing for 2016, including International Women's Day on March 8, the Day of Mourning on April 28 and a Labour Day picnic.
The council is the umbrella group for unions in the North and Central Okanagan. Its next general meeting will be at 7 p.m., March 2 at the BCGEU office on Borden Avenue in Kelowna.