The Things That Make Us a Community
/ Author: Chad Vankoughnett
/ Categories: Newsletters /
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The Things That Make Us a Community

We are all in this together, working side by side to make our jobs, and our world, a better place

As a CLAC representative, I am given a lot of opportunities to visit our members at work sites all over the province. Some are close by, and I can easily hop in the car and spend a little time with them over lunch or coffee, but some are a little more remote than that.

Recently, I had the privilege of visiting with our members working on a site just 65 kilometres from the Northwest Territories. It was a long way to go to have a meal and maybe an hour meeting. It was a long way to go to see just 30 members working at the most remote CLAC site.

My wife, who tends to see the practical side of most things, asked me if it was worth it. Was it worth taking three flights for nine hours through two cities and two provinces to see these people? Was it worth shaving my beard to go to site for one day? In her opinion, the answer to this is always no—regardless of how long the visit! Was it worth spending time away from home and family? 

To be honest, there are times when these questions go through my head as well. As a representative, I have at best an arm’s length understanding of what many of you do. In Saskatchewan, we have hundreds of members working in 20 trades with 15 companies on close to 40 sites. As you can imagine, this leaves me with a very broad yet very shallow grasp of what each person does at any given time. It also means that I don’t get many opportunities to speak directly with our members on a regular basis.

When I go for a site visit, whether it be five minutes or five hours away, I go for one reason. I go to meet you, our members. During a visit, I will hear your concerns, answer your questions, and give you information. But the important thing for me is the informal conversations I have with you. The quiet face-to-face chats that give me an insight into your life. Hearing about your family, celebrating a new child or home with you, congratulating you on a success or encouraging you through a difficult time—these are the intangible things that matter the most, and that provide the link between us as people. They are the things that make us more than just employees or members in a large organization. They make us a community.

When it comes down to it, CLAC isn’t really about the number of members we have or the benefits we offer or the wages we negotiate. Those things are important—make no mistake—but they are secondary to people’s lives. CLAC uses the slogan “Better Together” to describe how we go about representing you and your fellow members, and I believe that as an organization, our real strength comes from living this out daily. We are all in this together, working side by side to make our jobs, and our world, a better place. We do that by supporting one another, encouraging one another, being there for one another. Because none of us is “Better Alone.” So when my wife asked me if all the travel is worth it, there can be only one answer. Absolutely, emphatically, and unequivocally, yes.


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