Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ken Georgetti acclaimed as Canadian Labour Congress president in Toronto

TORONTO - I am very happy to report that my good friend Ken Georgetti has today been acclaimed for another three-year term as president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

Pictured from left: Jim Sinclair, BC Federation of Labour president, Cindy Oliver, Federation of Post Secondary Educators president, Ken Georgetti, Cindy's husband and CLC president and Bill Tieleman.

Georgetti becomes the longest-serving CLC president in the organization's 52 year history with this new term, his fourth since first being elected in 1999.

Ken began his career in the labour movement as the president of the Steelworkers local in Trail, British Columbia, representing workers at the giant Cominco smelter.

I worked with Ken for six years as his communications director and assistant at the BC Federation of Labour – where he served as President from 1986 to 1999.

As BC Fed President, Ken led the fight against anti-union labour laws introduced by the right-wing provincial government, including shutting down the province in a one-day general strike and boycotting those unfair laws for 5 years until they were overturned by the New Democratic Party government of Mike Harcourt that was elected in 1991.

Georgetti is probably the only labour leader in Canada in recent history to be charged with seditious treason – for allegedly trying to overthrow the Social Credit government!

As CLC president, Ken has enjoyed many successes in Ottawa, including winning federal bankruptcy protection for workers, better health and safety regulations, successful political action, strong campaigns for women's equality and a bigger, stronger Canadian Labour Congress – a congress where there are more workers from more occupations than ever before.

Congratulations to Ken and to the other CLC executives who were also acclaimed - Secretary-Treasurer Hassan Yusseff and Vice-Presidents Barb Byers and Marie Clarke Walker.


BC Mary said...


Congratulations on a new chapter in your life's work. And thanks for treating union news as if it's news that matters.

I've never belonged to a union but I can certainly do the math and figure out how the rest of society benefits from the safeguards afforded unionized workers.

The union I know most about is the Musicians' Union. What a debt society owes them! Gone are the days when musicians were treated like dishwashers and scullery maids, given nowhere to rest, to rehearse, or to change clothes, and having to perform long hours under adverse conditions which quickly damaged their hands, arms, lips, as well as their musical instruments. That's what it was like for them, before they organized some benevolent support. You can hear the difference in the old, old recordings ... it isn't just the engineering quality, it's the quality of the musicians themselves which has been able to improve.

These days now, with humane working conditions and some understanding of the demands of musical performance, a dedicated musician can continue building on the 6, 8, 10 years of formal study and the tremendous cost of a musical instrument (a bassoon costs $60,000., for example), until they're able to give the public a new, more polished musical performance in their later careers. The public benefits from that exceptional music performed well beyond the normal lifespan of even 50 years ago.

Who else, but a union, could insist that musicians can't tolerate sustained performance (as in recording a new CD) beyond about 2 hours non-stop, without sustaining damage? Collectively agreeing to better conditions is a benefit to all of society.

Sorry to digress ... but I am fairly certain that other unions work toward the same goals and, for that, we should be grateful.

So congratulations to you, Ken Georgetti, and the CLC. And special thanks for explaining.


Anonymous said...

Congrats to Ken. I worked in the auto industry in Ontario, and it is painful to watch the erosion of union power in that group. Notwithstanding Charter rights to collective bargaining, unionization proceeds under permanent threats.

Of unrelated interest: a native group claims that the RCMP effected removal of a Hereditary Chief, and that police were armed with Tasers. In context of the YVR inquiry, could police be sending a message? Canwest didn't take interest.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill
You describe Ken's career much better than I could do. Pretty sharp guy and he has a good team.

Anonymous said...

I'm union through and through and through and never saw Georgetti as my kind of a guy or leader.

It means there is no reform within the CLC and that the weak knees continue.

All this confirms is the Congress as a cog in a system that demands reform. At least he will be eligible for retirement before the next election.

Too bad, so sad.