August 15, 2001
The president of the North Okanagan Labour Council for the past 3 1/2 years is stepping down with mixed feelings.
Marie Mentz is looking forward to her new job in Vancouver and getting involved in the labour movement at the coast.
And while she leaves the NOLC satisfied with a job well done, Mentz said there's a little disappointment she'll no longer be involved in local labour issues that she has devoted many hours to over the past few years.
"We're one of the smaller labour councils," said Mentz, "but we have a core of very active volunteers who have taken on and accomplished a lot the past few years."
Education was one of Mentz's priorities during her term as president. Even before being elected president, she organized the NOLC's annual spring school at Okanagan University College. She continued as the school organizer during her term as president.
Under Mentz's leadership, the NOLC also focused on educating youth about their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. Several NOLC members were trained to present the Job Smart program in local schools. It's also offered free to students at the spring school.
The NOLC lobbied governments on issues such as the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, electoral boundaries, health care and Employment Insurance during Mentz's time as president.
The council also annually marked the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed and Injured in the Workplace on April 28, beefed up its public relations efforts and put its own financial house in order.
"It's often said the Okanagan isn't a labour-friendly area. I don't think that's entirely true," said Mentz. "While it may be difficult here to get labour-friendly candidates elected to public office, I've encountered many people who are devoted to making life and work better for the working people of the North and Central Okanagan. There's a lot of good union people here."
Mentz, a Telus employee and member of the Telecommunications Workers Union, starts her new job in Vancouver Sept. 1.
The NOLC executive, in a summer meeting, accepted her resignation, effective Sept. 1 and chose secretary-treasurer David Doran to serve as interim president until February's annual elections.
Recording secretary Judi Filion will take over as interim secretary-treasurer and vice-president Pat Bulmer will become the interim recording secretary. Filion and vice-president Cathy Seagris will take charge of the next spring labour school, set for March 2-3, 2002.
Doran, president of the Vernon/Kamloops Carpenters Union, said the NOLC will continue Mentz's work.
"Possible changes to the provincial labour code and Hydro deregulation are among the issues we will be vigilant about over the next several months," said Doran. "We have already launched plans to make sure our voice will be heard on these and other issues."
The NOLC represents 10,000 workers in the North and Central Okanagan. The next general membership meeting will be at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 5 at the Village Green Hotel in Vernon.