Local 793 is the strong union it is today because of its dedicated members, business manager Mike Gallagher told a long-service awards ceremony in the union banquet hall Nov. 16.
“Without the support of the members, especially the long-service members, all of you who are being recognized today, really absolutely nothing could’ve been accomplished,” he said.
More than 250 long-service members received an award this year for 30, 40, 50, 55 and 60 years of service. Raymond Crandall of Alliston, Ont. was lone recipient of the 60-year award.
Gallagher spoke at the beginning of the awards ceremony and told the audience that a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into making the union what it is today.
“There was no magic formula about it,” he remarked.
He said the union’s $1.6-billion pension fund and the benefit plan which has a $23-million surplus were only achieved as a result of the battles fought by union members.
Gallagher said he’s traveled to many different parts of Canada and the U.S. and there aren’t any locals that compare to Local 793 in terms of what the union has accomplished, and in keeping the province unionized and fair so operators get a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
That has occurred, he said, because operators stood up for their rights over the years on picket lines and because they went out like the professionals they are and put their skills to work making the contractors successful.
He noted that a lot of new contractors are now coming into Ontario from Italy, Spain and Germany and they’re bringing their own ideas on how to do the work.
But, “we know a little thing or two ourselves about building this great province,” he added. “That is something I feel very, very strongly about.”
On the issue of pensions, Gallagher said in spite of the challenges of the past – notably in 2008 when Canadian markets dipped 30 per cent – the plan is in good shape.
As of the end of October, the plan was up 11.6 per cent from the beginning of the year, “so we’re having a very good year in our pension plan.”
On the issue of benefits, he said the plan is in great shape and trustees have decided to make a number of improvements starting in January.
“To me, the most important thing is looking after our own, our families, and those benefits become more and more important as we get on.
“When we’re able to make the benefit plan better and able to have pensions that members retire on – that’s what it’s all about as far as I’m concerned.”