60th Annual OPCM Convention a huge success

60th Annual OPCM Convention a huge success

The Ontario Provincial Council of Machinists (OPCM) held their 60th Annual Convention in the Toronto area this past weekend. Conducted over the weekend of 31 May – 02 June, the Convention highlighted issues important to many IAM members and workers in general.

Since the inaugural OPCM held its first annual Convention in 1964, the face and the shape of the conventions have undergone a dramatic transformation. Many speakers and participants remarked that the composition of the delegates truly represented the make-up of the membership at large. Delegates were enthusiastic and many caid this was the best one they had attended, due in part to what they learned and the content of the guest speakers.

Highlights of the OPCM Convention

The convention kicked off with a rousing speech from Laura Walton, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour, followed by opening remarks from OPCM President Carol Edgar. The Host Committee, consisting of Vic Seebalak, Jonathon Smith, and Stan Theofilaktidis, provided an introductory report, setting the stage for the event.

Vinny Addeo, Chief of IAM Headquarters, delivered an address, followed by Dave Chartrand, General Vice-President of IAM Canada, and Ralph Martin, Chief of Staff at IAM Canada, who shared insights and updates on the IAM’s initiatives.

All three speakers touched on the importance of trade unionism as the basis of all activities, as well as education, communications and political action as ways of improving our members’ lives.

Lindsay Lawrence, an arbitrator from Lawrence Arbitration Services, presented on grievance settlements, offering valuable perspectives on dispute resolution. Mary McHugh, Director of the W. Winpisinger Education & Technology Centre, gave a compelling presentation on hybrid videoconferencing, highlighting its advantages and practical applications to locals and districts.

Diversity and inclusion were key themes, with Amina Abdullah, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant, speaking on fostering inclusive work environments and recognising implicit bias and ways to counter its negative effect in the workplace.

Ryan Newell and Jane Zhang from Goldblatt Partners discussed the Duty of Fair Representation, emphasizing its critical role in labour relations. Tony Blevins, Assistant Director of Guide Dogs of America/Tender Loving Canines, shared insights into the organization’s impactful work and what Canadian can do to increase that impact.

The second day of the convention featured the presentation of the Humanitarian Award to the Toronto Daily Bread Food Bank, recognizing their significant contributions to the community. Farhang Irani received the Norm Court Award, honouring his outstanding service to the labour movement.

The Host Committee delivered their final report, followed by comprehensive updates from Area Vice-Presidents, who provided insights from various regions. The convention concluded with an update from the 2024 GL Convention Host Committee, outlining plans for the upcoming event.

Speaker after speaker and the OPCM Executive stressed the importance of the next election: both provincial and federal. In Ontario, due to rumours of an early election means we must ensure a labour-friendly government is elected because Ontarians could lose more than we already have. Across Canada, this means if the Conservatives win, we could lose things like the very elemental Rand formula, which assures the health of Canadian unions.

Overall, the OPCM Convention was a successful gathering that fostered dialogue, celebrated achievements, and reinforced the commitment to advancing the welfare of IAM members – and all workers – in Ontario.