Hamilton is a place steeped in history and tradition that has advocate,” says Joseph.“Now we find continued to look forward.That solutions without a strike.We are now local attitude is what makes Hamilton special, and the organizations there are unique – even when it comes to organized labour. Meet the men and women of the Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 837.
The Labourers International Union of North America was chartered on April 13, 1903 with the first Canadian local Union chartered in 1919.The driving force behind the organization then was the poor treatment of immigrant workers in Canada, with racial inequality an accepted business practice at the time. Early struggles for labour unions in
the 1950s focused on safety and labour legislation to protect workers.
It was at that time that Enrico Heny Mancinelli became a member of Local 837. He organized and brought thousands of immigrants into organized labour. Eventually he became Business Manager for the local and was instrumental in starting up the first Labourers Pension Plan in 1968 and taking it nationally in 1971.
Enrico passed away 10 years ago but his legacy lives on through his son, Joseph Mancinelli, who today is LiUNA’s InternationalVice President and Regional Manager for Central and Eastern Canada – overseeing the very pension plan that his father founded. Enrico’s positive outlook has also created new opportunities for investments and jobs for members.
“That was their influence and what they fought for, and we’re trying to focused on cooperation to ensure the things that our members and contractors care about, especially training, are addressed.We have nine training centers across Canada.”
However, it’s that pension that has made the real difference.With $7 Billion in the pension plan across Canada that money is now invested in creating construction jobs for members and other trades through a Conversion Fund which takes derelict buildings and converts them into residential projects, as well as through the only Infrastructure Fund in Canada.
“It’s incumbent on those of us left behind to make things better and make our ancestors proud,” says Joseph.“We are the new face of organized labour, the largest labour union in Canada, and different from what most Canadian’s perceive as a union.”
The men and women of LiUNA Local 837 work in the worse conditions – rain, snow and cold, and extreme heat. They work hard for their money.They want good health care for their family and a good pension at the end of the day.
“We ensure that when they retire our members will get a good pension.We’re not relying on the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) for a good quality of life after retirement,” says Joseph.“We want LiUNA to be the value and we would like to see a higher cap on savings for pensions.We have been leaders in our pension plan and are using our financial strength in the economy.”
In Hamilton, that has translated into LiUNA’s redevelopment of the Lister Block, and the 1930s CN Station converted into LiUNA Station. More recently, it’s the development of a 22 story student housing facility for 300 students next to the Lister Block and the scheduled redevelopment of the northeast corner of King to King William.
This level of engagement is previously unheard of and that’s also a big reason behind the changes.
“It has changed the perception of a union like LiUNA, and now the community sees us as a partner in community development.This is also new to our members and we’re now doing more,” says Joseph.“The business community in Hamilton are now our partners because they understand the value of a safe workplace.We’re doing our part, especially in Hamilton, and we’re proud of the role we’ve had in the gentrification of the downtown.”
LiUNA Local 837 was first chartered on June 18, 1950, today the local represents 4,000 workers in the Hamilton-Niagara Region. Included are 750 members in the Industrial Sector (cleaners, caretakers, factory workers, food processors and security employees). For more information on Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 837 visit http://liunalocal837.com.