The new president of the North Okanagan Labour Council is urging all union members in the Central Okanagan to lend as much support as they can to striking Sun-Rype workers.
"The members of Teamsters 213, who work at Sun-Rype, are waging an historic battle," said Glenn Nowag, who was elected Wednesday at the NOLC's annual meeting in Kelowna.
"At a great personal cost to themselves, as well as their families, they are saying no to the new management that wants to strip the workers of decent wages, benefits and, especially, any measure of job protection.
"The company wants to contract out local jobs and the workers have said no, resoundingly.
"All working people need to stand beside the Teamster members and tell companies our jobs should stay here Ñ and not be sent out to the lowest bidder, or across the border to Washington state."
"The shame of this dispute is Sun-Rype is a successful local company built on the sweat of local workers. But the new managers seem to have little loyalty to the local community."
Nowag, previously an NOLC vice-president, is a member of UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers), local 120B.
Over the next year, the NOLC also plans to continue the struggle for a decent minimum wage.
"The minimum wage is long overdue for an increase," said Nowag. "Eight dollars an hour simply isn't a livable or reasonable wage any more. The Liberals are wrong to oppose an increase and even many of their supporters know that."
The NOLC will be active in the November municipal elections.
"We will support candidates who favour fair wages, affordable housing and daycare, and will work to establish anti-sweatshop municipal purchasing policies.
"We're also looking to support candidates who will oppose expensive P3s, contracting out jobs, and will work to defeat anti-union policies and attitudes."
Also elected to the NOLC executive were Kris Bothe, Brad Dunlop and Cheryl Stone as vice-presidents, along with Ron Bobowski, Jeff Carsience, Karen Abramsen, Ronn Dunn and Pat Munro.
The NOLC represents about 10,000 unionized workers in the North and Central Okanagan. It meets monthly with next meetings slated for March 5 at the NOLC office in Kelowna and April 9 at the Village Green Hotel in Vernon.