August 20, 2020
by Al Phillips
One of the things that separates the BC Building Trades from many other organizations is our leadership. Our leaders for the most part began as apprentices, just as I did, and worked their way through the years to serve as leaders of our great affiliate unions. This so called “journey” takes many forms, and I suppose every one of us has had our own unique path of getting to where we are today.
These leaders come from a multitude of different trades, bringing a specific perspective to what the collective will of the Building Trades can accomplish. Our common purpose is the improvement of working conditions, wages and bargaining rights for our members, but with the changing landscape, the goalposts are constantly changing. This challenges us as leaders to continually adapt so that we can continue to move our objectives forward. Leadership requires us to stop and think of what is best for all of us rather than for just some of us. I know each and every one of our business managers, and they are all great leaders; working together to ensure that our collaborative actions are in the best interest of all Building Trades’ members.
I am extremely excited to be your newly elected president and vow to act in the best interest of our affiliates and members. I want to thank our outgoing president, Brother Phil Venoit, for his dedication and service to the council. It was an honour to learn from his experience and I wish him well in all that he does.
We have a fairly new executive director in Andrew Mercier, who was appointed last December. Andrew is extremely energetic and passionate when it comes to issues faced by workers and I look forward to working with him over the next year. I would also like to thank Tom Sigurdson, our previous executive director, for his time and efforts over his many years with the Building Trades and wish him a happy retirement. It is because of the hard work of our past leaders that we are able to build upon and carry on the important work of the council.
From women in trades initiatives, to Community Benefits Agreements, to assisting the un-organized and underprivileged, we at the Building Trades have a huge part to play in our society in supporting the leadership of this fine province we all call home. It is truly an honour to be able to influence the industry I work in, to fix what I know can be fixed, and to work on things that some say cannot be changed.
Leadership comes in many forms and often emerges in times of adversity. This is especially true of the membership of our affiliate unions who have led us through this COVID-19 crisis. I would like to thank all our members; our frontline essential workers who have ensured our economy does not collapse while others stay at home. For all who have continued working and particularly our members doing the critical work of servicing hospitals, long-term care facilities and residences of our most vulnerable, sick, injured and elderly, your dedication in the face of unforeseen risks to yourselves and your families has been truly heroic.
I would also like to thank all the support staff at the affiliate and Building Trades offices who have been working hard behind the scenes throughout COVID-19, whether from home or from the office. Our staff was instrumental in helping us quickly adapt and react to this unprecedented situation. By implementing changes to technology so that our members could continue to access key services online, assisting with daily communications to members, government, and employers and by continuing to maintain service to our membership in spite of COVID-19 restrictions, we thank you for stepping up in the face of the many unexpected challenges.