The Newest Group of Union Organizers

February 4, 2013

From January 21-25, 2013, members from across the province gathered in Calgary to attend the first organizing school of 2013 and the fifth one in recent years.   

Over the course of the week the members covered a wide range of topics including labour history, union structure, labour laws, globalization, the limits of employment standards, the process of unionization. But the main focus for this course was on the benefits of union membership.  Most people, even current union members may not always be aware of the day to day benefits or what it really means to belong to UFCW Local 401.

This course is designed to give members an in-depth analysis of what the benefits of being a union member are and what the experiences of those that work in non-union workplaces really are.  “It was an eye opening experience for me,” says Taylor McHugh from PTI Wapasu.  “It made me realize how truly blessed I am to be part of a union.  If I ever have an issue, I will never be alone and there are so many people out there who need this security too!”


This class differed from others in the past in that the majority of those that attended the course were out of the camps in the Fort McMurray area. This also created a new dynamic in the class because although everyone works in Alberta, not everyone actually resided in Alberta outside of their jobs.  Some of the members lived in B.C., while others were from Ontario.  This created quite an interesting learning experience for everyone and added a new level of dialog.

“Living and working in the camps, sounds like quite a unique working environment,” says Deborah De Angelis, one of the National Representatives who facilitated the Organizing Course.  “Being able to share their personal experiences about how the union has helped them, will go a long way when these members are speaking with workers at non-union camps.  The difference in conditions between the Union and non-Union camps is astounding.”

Within the coming months, these newly trained members will be able to continue their learning with a two-week hands on organizer training session that will be conducted by the Local with one of the three regional organizing teams. 

If you know of anyone that is experiencing problems working in a non-union workplace or would be interested in taking this course, please contact Local 401 Representative Joe Irving to learn more