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Industry Perspectives Op-Ed: Unions and their random acts of kindness

Brynn Bourke
Industry Perspectives Op-Ed: Unions and their random acts of kindness
Brynn Bourke

After being with the Building Trades for most of a decade, I’ve had the unique privilege of seeing what we can accomplish when we work together.

There are many big things we do that make their way into the public; like the big infrastructure projects we build or community benefits initiatives.

But I also see many of the small things our unions do that we don’t often make a big deal about or really even talk about.

There are so many small acts of kindness our unions have done in just this past year; like calling through their retirees list just to check in and make sure our older members are doing OK.

It’s a business manager personally dropping off Red Seal certificates so each apprentice can still receive the recognition so important to this rite of passage into journey status.

It’s the leaders in our unions participating in an intensive Be More Than a Bystander training program so they can make our worksites safer for tradeswomen.

It’s the apprentice co-ordinator who noticed an apprentice was struggling and personally drove them to addiction services.

It’s the many, many scholarships given out and the thousands of union masks distributed to keep members safe.

It’s the members of our women’s committee, Build TogetHER, instantly responding to a call for help to support women with high levels of violence, homelessness, poverty and addiction on the downtown eastside of Vancouver.

And then there was the time we called a food bank to say we were donating $15,000 to help care for families over the holidays and the person on the other end broke down in tears because the donation was so needed. That donation was just one of many our affiliates made last December as our unions gave generously all across B.C.

There are so many memorable moments of caring that stand out in my mind, but I will share just one last one.

When Labour Day events were cancelled last year due to COVID, our unions organized a construction vehicle convoy through the Lower Mainland from Delta to New Westminster to Burnaby to Maple Ridge to celebrate the labour movement and demonstrate our resiliency in these challenging times.

A parent group in New Westminster found out and for block after block, families gathered on picnic blankets and children waved at our members as we drove by.

We don’t often promote these things that we do. I suppose because we’ve been doing them for so long, they are an essential part of who we are as unions. But they are special. And our communities are better because of these everyday contributions that we make.

Brynn Bourke is the interim executive director of the BC Building Trades Council. Send Industry Perspectives column ideas and comments to editor@journalofcommerce.com.

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