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Part six of our webinar series: Just Recovery? Labour, Organizing and the Future We Want
The pandemic has drawn attention to a glaring gap in worker rights and public health protection in BC. It has never made sense to go to work sick. Yet this is a decision far too many workers are forced to make each day. British Columbia has a historic opportunity to take that "choice" off the table with permanent paid sick leave. This webinar explores the realities of working on the front lines, the raised stakes for low-wage and racialized workers, and how employer-paid sick leave programs have seen success across the globe.
This event is jointly organized by the BC Federation of Labour and SFU’s Labour Studies Program, with support from Vancity Credit Union.
Dr Stephanie Premji
Associate Professor School of Labour Studies, McMaster University
Dr. Stephanie Premji is an Associate Professor at the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University (Ontario). She is interested in the working conditions, health problems and access to care and compensation of low-income immigrant and racialized workers. Her current research focuses on experiences of precarious work, health and return to work among the Toronto Bangladeshi community, in partnership with the South Asian Women’s Rights Organization. Dr. Premji is the author of the edited collection Sick and Tired: Health and Safety Inequalities (2018, Fernwood Publishing).
President, UFCW 1518
Kim Novak is a dedicated union leader who has spent her entire career fighting for fairness for workers. She has a long history with UFCW 1518, first as a clerk and member at Safeway. After completing a degree at the University of British Columbia, Kim became a summer student at UFCW 1518, where she recognized the potential for creating a more just society through building worker power.
Kim has taken on several leadership roles at UFCW 1518, working in communications, as a union representative, director, and Secretary-Treasurer before being unanimously elected as President by the Executive Board in 2019. She became Vice-President of UFCW International in 2020.
As President, Kim has set an agenda of using education, engagement, and empowerment to bring about the positive change UFCW 1518 members seek. She has put human rights, anti-racism, and social justice at the heart of all the work that UFCW 1518 does. Her long-term vision is to build worker power and make UFCW 1518 the leading advocate in the future of work.
Kim lives in Coquitlam with her husband and sons.
Hon Michael Wood
Minister of Transport and Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, New Zealand
Michael was first elected to Parliament at the 2016 Mt Roskill by-election. In opposition he was Labour’s spokesperson for Transport, Revenue, and Consumer Affairs, and after the election he had roles as Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Ethnic Communities and Chair of the Finance & Expenditure Select Committee, before coming into the Chief Labour Whip role in mid-2019.
Following the 2020 General Election, Michael became a sworn Member of the Executive and was appointed by the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern as the Minister of Transport and Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety. He was also given the role of Deputy Leader of the House.
Michael also continues a strong association with New Zealand’s vibrant and growing Ethnic Communities owing to his previous role and the highly diverse nature of the Mt Roskill electorate he represents.
Prior to his parliamentary role Michael was an Auckland Council member in his community and has held roles providing advice to Habitat for Humanity and as a senior negotiator for the Finance Sector union Finsec.
Michael is driven by the core belief that all people deserve the opportunity to flourish and reach their potential regardless of background, and that this is most likely to occur when we build strong, fair, and supportive communities. He believes that an economy and public institutions that are focused on people’s wellbeing will lead to a society that is both more prosperous and just.
Along with his wife Julie and their three young sons, Michael lives in Roskill South where he loves to tramp along the Waikowhai Coast, tends to a very neglected vegetable garden, and dreams of an alternative career as a roving international test cricket commentator.
Host and Producer, This is VANCOLOUR Podcast
Mo Amir is the host and producer of This is VANCOLOUR - Vancouver's most popular politics and culture podcast, which has hosted a wide variety of "colourful" guests including BC Premier John Horgan, BC NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, former BC Premier Christy Clark, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and a wide array of other politicians, media personalities, academics, and entertainers. Formerly a commentator at CKNW Global News, Mo is a radio columnist for CBC Radio's On the Coast with Gloria Macrenko, an opinionist for Vancouver is Awesome, and a federal elections analyst for CHEK News. He is a graduate of Simon Fraser University, receiving both his Bachelor of Business Administration and Masters in Political Science here at SFU.
Part five of our webinar series: Just Recovery? Labour, Organizing and the Future We Want
This event is organized by SFU's Community-Engaged Research Initiative (CERi) with support from the Labour Studies Program.
The COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the inequities that exist in our communities and in our workplaces. Simon Fraser University has publicly committed to “creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community.” But is this community built on the backs of our most precarious workers?
While food and cleaning service workers are an essential part of the SFU community, they are outsourced to third-party companies, and not directly employed by SFU. This outsourcing practice results in a workforce with lower wages and less job security than other workers who are part of the campus community. Unlike other staff at SFU, this workforce, which is primarily comprised of women, racialized people, and immigrants, doesn’t receive a living wage, extended health benefits, or an appropriate health and dental care plan.
Join us to hear from frontline workers and community leaders about contract worker justice at SFU and strategize about how to bring food service and custodial workers back in house as full members of the campus community.
More information about the campaign can be found here, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mitch Hoganson (he/him)
Senior supervisor with catering services at SFU's Diamond Alumni Centre
Mitch is a twenty two year veteran of food services at SFU. He is the senior supervisor at Diamond alumni centre. His duties include running special events ranging from weddings and conferences, to VIP events for SFU. Over his years at SFU, Mitch has been a strong proponent for bringing food services in-house. He has had many conversations with the university on this topic, that were always met with the same response -"We are not ready to take it on. That is for sometime down the road". Mitch believes there is no better time then now for SFU to do the right thing.
Fun stuff - Mitch considers himself to be a fair and honest truth teller, who is sarcastic, funny, and a bit of a rebel.
Hon. Katrina Chen (she/her)
NDP MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed & Minister of State for Child Care
Katrina Chen was elected as the MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed in May 2017 and re-elected in October 2020. She was sworn in as the Minister of State for Child Care in July 2017 and serves as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Social Initiatives and the Cabinet Working Group on COVID.
Prior to her election as an MLA, Katrina served as a Trustee on the Burnaby Board of Education, and worked in both provincial and federal constituency offices for over 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Simon Fraser University with a major in political science and a minor in history, as well as a certificate in Immigration Laws, Policies and Procedures from the University of British Columbia.
Katrina has also worked as a community organizer with ACORN, emceed for major cultural festivals, and has volunteered as an executive member for several local non-profit organizations. Katrina was born and raised in Taiwan, and moved to British Columbia many years ago.
Karen Ranalletta (she/her)
President of CUPE BC
Karen Ranalletta was elected President of CUPE BC on May 21, 2021, after serving three terms as a General Vice President. She previously served as President of CUPE 2950 (representing more than 1500 clerical and library workers at the University of British Columbia). Karen represents CUPE BC as an Officer (Vice President) of the BC Federation of Labour and chairs the BC Federation of Labour Health and Safety Committee. She also chairs the CUPE BC Universities and Young Workers Committees and is a member of the CUPE National Post-Secondary Task Force. Finally, she sits on the Board of Directors for the BC Labour Heritage Centre - an organization dedicated to preserving and championing working people's history in BC.
Adjunct Professor of Labour Studies at Simon Fraser University
Jim Sinclair's current positions include; Chair of the Fraser Health Authority, Director, Canada Post Board and Adjunct Professor of Labour Studies at Simon Fraser University.
Jim Sinclair previously served on the BC Hydro Board and the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board. Jim was the president of the BC Federation of Labour from 1999 – 2015 and vice-president of the United Fisherman and Allied Workers’ Union from 1982 to 1999.
Jim Sinclair holds an honorary doctor of laws from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
Paul Voykin (he/him)
Cook at the Diamond Alumni Center and SFU's Catering Department
Paul Voykin has been a cook at the Diamond Alumni Center and SFU's Catering Department since 2007, and his work has contributed to the success of hundreds of weddings and thousands of on-campus events. Paul emerged as a union leader during the SFU Dining Services job security fight of 2017, where a majority strike vote secured the jobs of Unite Here Local 40 members against the threat of a contract flip. Since then, his growing passion for labour activism led him to work more closely with Local 40, where he has been organizing full-time since their Vancouver hotel strike in 2019.
Jade Ho (she/her)
Yi Chien Jade Ho 何宜謙 is currently an education PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University and a steering committee member of the Vancouver Tenants Union. Jade has been a housing-justice organizer for the past 6 years working primarily in Vancouver’s Chinatown fighting against gentrification and racism. She is also a labour organizer with the Teaching Support Staff Union and working as a research assistant with Contract Worker Justice. In 2019, she was part of a successful unionization drive for research assistants and grant employees at SFU, making RAs at SFU the first unionized research workers in West Coast Canada. Her doctoral work centers on developing a radical pedagogy of place through decolonial lenses focusing on settlers of color and their connection to place, land and identity.
Part four of our webinar series: Just Recovery? Labour, Organizing and the Future We Want
This panel will look at the recommendations and analysis of the Final Report of the British Columbia Expert Panel on Basic Income to ask: should a just recovery for all include a Basic Income? Speakers will also discuss the Report’s recommendations, including improved wages for low-paid workers and a more just labour market for BC. Join us for this important discussion!
Kaitlyn Matulewicz is the Executive Director of the Worker Solidarity Network (formerly the Retail Action Network) and the Co-chair of the BC Employment Standards Coalition. Kaitlyn comes to her organizing work with seven years experience working in restaurants. After getting tired of managers telling her to dress "classy provocative" on the job (yes, those were their actual words) Kaitlyn joined a community of workers to fight for fair and decent working conditions in BC.
Chuka Ejeckam is the Director of Research & Policy at the BC Federation of Labour, and a Research Associate with the BC office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. He holds a Bachelors degree in Rhetoric from the University of Winnipeg, and a combined Bachelors in Political Science & Philosophy from the University of British Columbia. He is currently enrolled in the Masters degree program in Political Science at UBC. His academic work focuses on reparative drug policy, structural racism, and both political and economic inequality. His work at the BCFED focuses on the changing world of work, including deindustrialization, precarious employment, automation and AI, and climate change
David Green is a professor in the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC. He received his BA from Queen’s University and his PhD from Stanford. His areas of research interest include income inequality, immigration, the impact of technical change on the labour market, and policies affecting labour market outcomes. He is a former editor of the Canadian Journal of Economics, an International Research Associate with the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London, and a Research Associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
Kendra Strauss is the Director of the Labour Studies Program and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at SFU. She is a geographer and feminist political economist with teaching and research interests in the areas of labour and regulation, social reproduction, and migration.
Part three of our webinar series: Just Recovery? Labour, Organizing and the Future We Want
Mega sporting events such as the World Cup, the Super Bowl and the Olympics, as a few examples, bring in millions of dollars to a region’s hospitality and tourism sectors. Given the global attention that such events attract, cities hosting these mega-events spend a considerable amount of time preparing and scaling up to meet the demand, investing in construction and upgrading the city’s infrastructure. These efforts require additional staff that are largely low-wage workers, immigrant and BIPOC, who are already vulnerable to exploitation. Some even argue that the athletes themselves are exposed to various forms of exploitation perpetuated by systemic policies, politics and practices within the sports complex that govern their lives as athletes.
Panelists will tackle questions around what can be done to address the various forms of exploitation that the labour force behind mega-events encounter as well as models for building collective power and creating responses and programs to support workers. They will speak to how we must use this moment to address systemic inequalities in how work is valued, whose work is valued and how forms of oppression operate in the sectors that support mega sporting events.
Join webinar panelists for a lively, insightful and important discussion about the precarious and often invisible labour that mega-events rely on and more importantly, about what a just way forward might look like for such workers.
Fabien Goa is Research Manager at FairSquare Projects. He has over a decade of human rights experience, focusing on corporate accountability, migrant workers rights and the USA.
Fabien came to FairSquare from BSR, where he provided human rights research and guidance for businesses in the construction, food & beverage and technology sectors. Previously, Fabien was special adviser on sports and labour rights at Amnesty International, with a focus on the Qatar 2022 World Cup. He also worked on Guantanamo Bay, torture in the CIA secret detention programme and US criminal justice issues including police use of force, solitary confinement, and sentencing of juveniles.
Fabien has a Masters in Migration & Law from Queen Mary’s, University of London. He speaks English, French and Mauritian creole. He is based in Paris.
Vani Saraswathi is the Editor-at-Large and Director of Projects at Migrant-Rights.org and the author of Stories of Origin: The Invisible Lives of Migrants in the Gulf. In 1999, she relocated to Qatar, working with several local and regional publications, and launching some of Qatar’s leading periodicals. In her 17 years in Qatar, she mobilised a grassroots community to help migrants in distress.
Since 2014, in her role with Migrant-Rights.org she has reported from the Gulf states and countries of origin. She also organises advocacy projects and human rights training targeting individual employers, embassies, recruitment agents and businesses in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and UAE. A special emphasis of Vani’s work is on female migrants, including domestic workers and advocacy effort towards mainstreaming issues facing female migrant workers.
She is a member of the Migration Advisory Group (previous Policy Advisory Committee) of ILO ROAS, the Policy Advisory Group of Freedom Fund’s Ethiopia hotspot and Humanity United’s Advisory group on Forced Labour and Human Trafficking.
She also contributes as an expert commentator on issues related to human rights in the GCC for various international publications and at international forums, including various UN forums.
Vani currently divides her time between India, Qatar and other GCC states.
Jules Boykoff is the author of four books on the Olympic Games, most recently NOlympians: Inside the Fight Against Capitalist Mega-Sports in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Beyond (Fernwood 2020) and Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics (Verso 2016). His work has appeared in academic journals like the International Review for the Sociology of Sport, New Political Science, and the International Journal of the History of Sport and outlets like the New York Times, The Nation, and the Los Angeles Times. He teaches political science at Pacific University, USA.
Laya Behbahani is a PhD student at SFU’s School of Communication researching human trafficking, slavery and forced labour in the Gulf states of the Middle East. Laya is also the Director of the Student Experience Initiative and a Sessional Lecturer in Labour Studies. She lives and works as an uninvited guest on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the west coast.
Part two of our webinar series: Just Recovery? Labour, Organizing and the Future We Want
The COVID-19 pandemic has unequally impacted those who work in the performing arts and other creative industries. Join webinar panelists for a lively, insightful and important discussion about what a just recovery might look like for creative workers and artists in Canada.
Panelists will tackle questions around the precarity of creative workers, models for building collective power and creating programs to support workers in the arts. They will also speak to how we must use this moment to address systemic inequities in how creative work is valued, whose work is valued, and how forms of oppression operate in the arts and creative sectors.
Maiko Yamamoto is a Vancouver-based artist who creates new, experimental and intercultural works of performance. Many of these works are built through a practice of collaboration and include theatre projects, public art works, and performance installations.
Since 2003, Maiko has been Co-Artistic Director of the Vancouver-based performance company, Theatre Replacement, founded with James Long. With the company she has created over 20 new works, many of which have toured to festivals and venues around the world.
In addition, Maiko teaches performance and mentors artists for a range of different companies and organizations, both in Canada and abroad. She also occasionally works as a curator and writes about performance for a variety of publications.
She holds a BFA in Theatre from Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts, and a Masters of Applied Arts in Visual Art from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Maiko is the 2019 recipient of the Siminovitch Prize in Directing, with James Long.
Kadon Douglas is the executive director of BIPOC TV & Film, a Toronto-based grassroots nonprofit organization advocating for increased representation of screen-media professionals from Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour communities in front of and behind the camera.
Prior to BIPOC TV & FILM, Kadon championed gender equity and inclusion in screen-based media at Women in Film & Television-Toronto (WIFT-T) as the manager of communications and engagement. Most recently, she worked within the Dean’s Office at FCAD, Ryerson University’s faculty of communication and design. There she revitalized the brand (digital, PR, internal communications) and provided strategic guidance to the FCAD ecosystem as its manager of marketing and communications.
Kadon also worked for several years in documentary as a production coordinator, researcher and digital marketing specialist; and is a 2019 Ontario Nonprofit Network RBC Leading the Future fellow, and a two-time fellow of the Hot Docs Film Festival: Doc Accelerator (2013) and Shaw Media Diverse Voices (2015). Kadon is also an active member of the screen-based media community, volunteering her time on various committees and juries, and is the former chair of the Reelworld Film Festival.
Jonny Sopotiuk is a visual artist, curator, and community organizer living and working on the Unceded Indigenous territories belonging to the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His interdisciplinary arts studio practice explores compulsion and control through the lenses of production, labour, and work.
In addition to his arts practice, Jonny has spent the last decade working in the labour movement as a union organizer. He is currently the Lead Organizer for IATSE Local 891, a union representing over 9000 professional artists and technicians in the film industry across British Columbia and is the President of the Arts and Cultural Workers Union (ACWU), IATSE Local B778.
Jonny is a founding member of the Vancouver Artists Labour Union Cooperative (VALU CO-OP), an innovative new worker cooperative organizing initiative transforming labour practices within the arts and cultural sector and a founding member of it's new sibling cooperative the Vancouver Sewing Labour Cooperative (VSLU). In the past year the ACWU has organized 5 non-profit arts organizations and grown to over 50 members working between the two cooperatives.
Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte is currently completing a PhD at SFU’s School of Communication, with a focus on Canadian cultural policy and artist-run organizations. Her doctoral research is supported by a SSHRC Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship (2018-2021). In 2019, she received the Canadian Communication Association’s Doctoral CRTC Prize for Excellence in Policy Research for the paper “Creative Canada: A Critical Look at a ‘New’ Cultural Policy Framework.”
She is a member of the Archive/Counter Archive Cultural Policy, IP and Rights Ecosystems Working Group. Mariane obtained an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts in 2012 and has exhibited artistic and curatorial projects across Canada. She has worked as lead consultant on various sectoral research and community consultation projects commissioned by national and provincial arts service organizations. Mariane has served on the board of directors of the Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres (2016-2018), VIVO Media Arts Centre (2014-2019), and Aphotic Theatre (2017-present).
Part one of our webinar series: Just Recovery? Labour, Organizing and the Future We Want
Co-sponsored by the Canadian Association for Work & Labour Studies
From food delivery workers to rideshare drivers, organizing by gig and platform workers is one of the big labour stories of recent years. So is the subsequent push back by employers, including efforts to pass Proposition 22 in California and Foodora’s decision to leave the Ontario market. This webinar brings together two organizers of these struggles to consider the lessons learned and the implications for the future of work and worker organizing as we exit the pandemic
We ask: What is the future of work post-COVID-19, and how do recent struggles to organize gig workers speak to broader challenges of organizing for a just recovery from the pandemic?
Cherri Murphy is a social justice minister in the East Bay, California and a doctoral student at Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She is also a Lyft driver and lead organizer for Gig Workers Rising.
Aaron Spires is a letter carrier at Canada Post, and in 2015 was elected as the National Union Representative responsible for external organizing for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. He worked with field organizers and foodora couriers to successfully challenge the couriers' misclassification at the Ontario Labour Relations Board, and secure an 89% 'Yes' vote in favour of unionization.
Dr. Enda Brophy is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication and an Associate in the Labour Studies Program at Simon Fraser University. He is the author of Language Put to Work: The Making of the Global Call Centre Workforce. His current research explores labour organizing through and against digital platforms.