This has been a very interesting year. In March of 2020 I assumed the position of National Vice-President of the Union of National Health and Environment Workers. Let’s just say that the past year was not what anyone expected, especially me. But we have not only survived but thrived and I want to thank all of you for all the work you did this year for the Union and on behalf of the Canadian public. Now we can see more than a glimmer of light and hope ahead, and I look forward to seeing and meeting many of you eventually in person very soon.
I want to also introduce or re-introduce myself to you. I am Benoît (Ben) Thibault and I have been a federal public sector worker since 1995 when I graduated from the Université de Sherbrooke. Since 1997 I have worked as a technician, as a senior multidisciplinary hydrographer, at the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS-DFO). I have been involved in the Union since 2004 when I became a Shop Steward and I have served in many positions over the years including Local President and President of Regional Council 08 (Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Côte Nord, Îles de la Madeleine) from 2011 to 2017. That year I was elected as Quebec Regional Vice-President of UHEW.
This year has been trial by fire for me as National Vice-President. Trying to serve and support UHEW members through the pandemic has been tough and challenging. But I am proud of the efforts we have made on a number of fronts and over the next couple of months I will be sharing some of them with you. I am also happy to report that after many months of work with the Labour Relations Officers at UHEW that we will soon be offering our very own Local Officer Training for all UHEW Locals. We know that this training is sorely needed and that there has been a vacuum since the pandemic forced PSAC to cancel most of its training courses. More information will be available on this training which will be two hours to half a day in duration. Watch for a special announcement in your mailbox and on the UHEW website.
We are also moving to improve communications to and from Locals and Union members. Part of that will be the assignment of a dedicated UHEW email for all Locals. This will ensure that Locals can send and receive information safely and securely and that there will be a continuity in Union communications at the Local level. Your National President, Sister Shimen Fayad and I will also be having calls with all UHEW Locals beginning very soon. That will be another opportunity to hear from you about how we are doing now and what you would like to see in the future.
There is still much work to do at UHEW and a big piece of that will be getting ready for the UHEW convention later this year but I am confident we can meet and exceed the challenges ahead. Thank you again for your on-going support and encouragement.
Help us build UHEW together!!