On July 1, 2022, Gary Fiege will end his term as PPWC President. Below is his final statement written to the members and supporters of our union, which will be featured in the upcoming edition of the Leaflet. Thank you, brother Gary, for years of hard work, sacrifice and always standing up for working people and members of the PPWC. And as we always say in our union, there are no “goodbyes”. Only “until next time”.
See our tribute video below:
Written by President Gary Fiege
It is with great sadness that I write my final Leaflet report as President of the Public and Private Workers of Canada. It has been both a pleasure and an honour to represent the hard-working Sisters and Brothers of this great union. A union not made great by name, but rather greatness measured by the people who are this entity.
The last ten plus years as: National Executive Board representative for Local 2, Second and First Vice Presidents, and finally, President for the National, have been some of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life.
I need to thank my wife, family and friends for their support over the years. Without this support I would not have been able to carry on. For my wife Michele, it has been extra difficult. She has endured my mental and physical absences like no other. When I am away, I am with people, but she goes home to an empty house and two dogs. Even while I was at home, many a time my mind was a million miles away. For those of us who do this righteous work, be ever mindful of the ones who support us.
I need to thank a few others. I recognize now more than ever what a good running office can do for our organization. This is one area that I woefully lacked when I came to the National. Thank you, Chen and Chantel.
Throughout these years, I have met some truly inspirational people. I will forever cherish these friendships borne from the struggles we have faced together. Friendships that will carry on far past my days in this official capacity.
Todd, Rod, Ryan, Al, Chuck, Larry, Bob, Neil, Barry, Adrian, Cam, Niki, Nadia, Chris, John, Gerald, Les, Bryan, Arnie, Geoff, Greg, Peter, Kelly, Steve, Joe, Dave… the list is endless and I apologize for those I missed. I have shied away from naming anyone in the past due to the likelihood of missing someone, but in this case, I need to capture some of the people. To all of you, I would like to relay my gratitude for your support and guidance over these many years. I hope our paths continue to cross into the future.
This is an emotional time for myself, the sun is setting on my time here.
Looking back at the last years with the lens of time bringing clarity, I am proud of what we have accomplished together. We have done some truly remarkable things. We have changed labour law, challenged the status quo, built or modified systems and procedures, endured a pandemic, renovated our office, reinvigorated our training, built affiliations with like minded unions, endured attacks, brought new members into the fold, negotiated some landmark agreements, opened doors of dialogue with government, as well as countless other successful achievements.
It has been said before, but it is worth repeating: “as a small union, we fight way above our weight class.” In a world of large business unionism, we are still relevant. We have the right to be proud!
While I focus on the positive, I do have to recognize some of the negative points. We have lost members to raids by other unions and plant closures. We have seen our once mighty forest industry shrink into a shadow of its former glory. We have fought every step of the way, but at times you need to recognize when things cannot be fixed or saved.
Our union has a rich history of developing great leaders, and with Kelly Johnson about to assume the role, as he was acclaimed for at Convention, the tradition will continue. I know he will carry on looking after your interests in this ever-changing world. I wish him all the best as he takes the reins and adds his personal touches to the PPWC.
I have complete faith that Kelly will succeed in his role as President, for he has already excelled in everything he puts his mind to. He comes highly capable, for his experience is formidable. He is the longest serving President of his local in Castlegar, he has led the Confederation of Canadian Unions for years, and everywhere he goes, bridges are built. He inspires those around him to be the best they can be. I know this because he has done so for me. I wish Kelly all the success in this new role and I hope all of you support him as you have myself.
I would also like to acknowledge the new 2nd Vice President, Geoff Dawe, the new Communications Officer, Adrian Castley, and all the committee members elected at Convention. I wish you all success as you help guide this union over the next few years.
I will close off this report with my final statement to Convention:
I am proud of our accomplishments over the last number of years. We as a team have tackled many an issue, bridged gaps, given hope, consoled one another in times of need and a myriad of other things as they came at us. Without our team approach, we would not have been as effective as we were. Without team, there is no ultimate success, only short-term personal gain. There is no place for “I” in this environment.
I have seen this play out many times in my life, and the union movement is no different. Continue to work together, embrace your differences, have each others backs and you will reap the rewards you collectively seek.
Be a good human being, for that is a lasting legacy that no one can ever take from you.