Major Changes at USW 1-424
Prince George, B.C. – The weekend saw the United Steelworkers Union Local 1-424 undergo two significant changes. First, the merger of locals 1-424 and 1-425 was completed (first reported on 250 News in March) at the weekend convention in Prince George. Secondly, a new president has taken the helm of the new local , which is now USW 1-2017.
The new President is Brian O’Rourke who is no stranger to the USW circle. He has been with the organization for 20 years, and was the Financial Secretary before becoming Vice President a year ago . O’Rourke brings a great deal of experience to the table says outgoing President Frank Everitt.
The merger made sense in that both locals were dealing with the same employers, so it eliminates redundancy in dealing with issues says Everitt. With advances in technology it is also easier to be in touch with members throughout the north , eliminating the need for smaller locals.
The merger comes at a time when the forest industry and resource development are facing challenges and the new larger local is expected to have more clout on issues such as the softwood lumber agreement, anticipated reduction in the annual allowable cut, and possible mill mergers or closures as a result of those challenges.
The change also comes at a time when the political scene in B.C. is not yet settled. The Greens hold the balance of power in the province, and resource development is not something they favour “The economics come from this part of the country” says Everitt ” and that has to be important to everybody in British Columbia, not only those who live in the north, but those who the lower mainland and on Vancouver Island.”
With USW 1-2017 covering an area from 100 Mile House north, Everitt says the organization has a lot of clout “I know the executive won’t be quiet about any issues that are affecting membership here.”
Everitt leaves the post after being President for just over 26 years and with the organization for 37 years. He says the union has made some significant advancements for workers over the nearly 4 decades ” In the time I was involved, working with others to make those things happen, but we got the contracting out protection, we got a long term disability plan that we never had, improvements to our pension and an education fund for our membership so that when we needed to do education we had the resources to enable to do that.”
Everitt may be retiring from the day to day workings of the union, but expects to be called for advice from time to time “I’m retiring to Prince George, I’m not going anywhere. I will continue my term on Council, I look forward to another term if the citizens so agree with that.”