February 5, 2009

News release - NOLC president re-elected

The president of the North Okanagan Labour Council is returning for his second term.
Glenn Nowag, acclaimed at the organization's annual general meeting Wednesday in Kelowna, said labour groups have a big job ahead in the declining economy.
Lobbying all governments to make the welfare of working people their No. 1 priority is vital, said the labour leader.
"Keeping people in their jobs and putting people to work need to be the top considerations as governments try to stimulate the economy," said Nowag. "We should be bailing out the people on the factory floors, not people in the boardrooms."
Specifically, the NOLC leader wants to press local politicians for improvements to the Employment Insurance program. Changes made to EI benefits in the recent federal budget won't do much to help to laid off workers, he said.
"Benefits were extended for five weeks on a temporary basis," said Nowag. "However, that won't help the 60 per cent of applicants who are turned down for EI nor increase benefit levels. It was just about no help at all."
Also on the NOLC's immediate agenda is supporting striking workers at Kelowna's Dorchester retirement home. A call was made at the meeting for NOLC members to join the employees on the picket line.
Dorchester employees are engaging in rotating strikes.
"These workers are paid $11 to $14 an hour and they're asking for only modest improvements in wages, vacation and sick-leave provisions," said Nowag. "They're being quite reasonable for the times. The people on the other side of the bargaining table need to recognize that."
The health sector continues to be a concern on several other fronts in the Valley. Hospital maintenance worker jobs in Kelowna and Vernon are threatened by privatization and workers at privately owned care homes in Vernon and Armstrong recently lost their jobs.
"In a letter to the editor, Health Minister George Abbott promised health-care standards would be maintained, but expressed no sympathy for the Vernon and Armstrong employees losing their jobs," said Nowag.
A longer-term goal for the new president is to work to get more women involved in the union movement and to provide more support for women already involved in unions.
It's a timely priority as UBCO professor and Kelowna Women's Resource Centre board member Susan Hillock also spoke at the meeting, outlining preliminary plans for a forum in 2010 on the feminine ethos in unions.
Shawna Rand and Ronn Dunn were elected vice-presidents of the council, Cheryl Stone recording secretary and Ron Bobowski secretary-treasurer. Shane Curveon was chosen sergeant at arms. Nikki Inouye joins the council as northern (Vernon-area) representative and Brad Albrecht as a trustee.
The NOLC is the umbrella organization for unions in the Central and North Okanagan. Its next general meeting will be March 4 at its Kelowna office, 201A - 1358 St. Paul St. The next Vernon meeting will be April 8 at 7 p.m. at the Village Green Hotel.


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