More than 400 people attended Local 793’s annual dinner dance held in the union’s banquet hall in Oakville on Nov. 16.
Business manager Mike Gallagher welcomed guests, dignitaries and long-service members to the event and spoke about some of the union’s future plans – and challenges.
He said the union is looking at making major improvements to the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario campus in Morrisburg and will be investing money into that facility.
He said the union has to invest money if it wants its training facilities to remain world-class.
He also said that the union is moving ahead with plans for a monument to honour members who have been killed in construction accidents or died due to occupational diseases.
“We as an organization must remember their contribution and make sure what happened to them doesn’t happen again,” he noted.
As for future challenges, Gallagher said unions like the Operating Engineers are facing a right-wing movement that’s sweeping across North America.
He said unions must fight back because “that’s not the type of vision we have for our province.
“We know the value of working and having safe worksites but unfortunately mean-spirited Conservatism is sweeping across North America.”
The movement, he said, is threatening trade unions.
The Conservatives are “peddling” this vision of Utopia without unions and a system that would allow free riders, Gallagher said.
“We can’t let that happen – not on our watch. We have to fight that tooth and nail.”
Gallagher said the U.S., which has 23 right-to-work states, has been going backwards and unions in Canada must make sure that this country does not follow suit.
“Be vigilant,” he told the audience. “Pay attention and don’t listen to nice-sounding slogans like right-to-work.”
Assistant business manager John W. Anderson spoke briefly at the event. He introduced the winners of the Douglas H. Campbell Awards for top crane apprentices in 2012. Winners were:
- Sean Caveney – top mobile crane apprentice
- Ryan Leyten – top tower crane apprentice
Dignitaries at the event included Oakville Mayor Rob Burton and Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn.
Scotty Newlands, who often sings O’Canada at Toronto Maple Leaf home games, sang the anthem. He later performed the ballad Danny Boy.
Also at the meeting:
Local 793 operator Cedric LeBlanc was presented with the Kyle James Knox Memorial Award.
The award is named after Knox, a 24-year-old apprentice who was killed when a rotary drill rig collapsed in Toronto on Oct. 11, 2011. It is given to operators who go above and beyond the call of duty.
On Nov. 27, 2012, LeBlanc came to the rescue of crane operator Jean Marc Legault who was working in a crane at a jobsite in Ottawa.
Legault had accidentally sliced his wrist while cutting a grease tube, leading to a serious arterial bleed. He was in the cab of a crane 60 metres tall.
LeBlanc provided first-aid and helped bring Legault to ground level.
Legault recovered in hospital.
Business manager Mike Gallagher told those at the dinner dance that LeBlanc is to be commended for his actions.
If LeBlanc had not acted as quickly as he did, another member might have lost his life, Gallagher noted.
Local 793 donated $104,114 to the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation cancer program.
The funds were raised at the 2013 Gary O’Neill Memorial Golf Tournament held this past summer at RattleSnake Point Golf Club in Milton.
In 2012, the tournament raised $102,000.
Proceeds are used to fund research into esophageal cancer.
Amber Bernard and Josh Lai of Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation accepted the award on behalf of the foundation.