The Unsung Heroes of the Prairies
While construction, maintenance, and pipeline work get lots of deserved attention, CLAC is much more than these industries
By Dennis Perrin, Prairies Director
In the last few issues of the Guide, the Prairies report has focused on members working in the construction, maintenance, and pipeline industries. There’s good reason for that considering CLAC is such a major presence in these industries in the Prairie provinces.
Members have built major portions of most major construction projects in the last 15 years and are now maintaining many of them. They are also doing most of the major pipeline construction in western Canada.
More than Just Construction
But CLAC is much more than just construction, maintenance, and pipeline work. Members across the Prairies are safely preparing food for sale, stocking grocery shelves, rebuilding engines for heavy duty equipment, and educating the next generation.
In Manitoba, we represent several hundred educational assistants, custodians, bus drivers, library technicians, and school administrative assistants. All of these members perform amazing functions that are often undervalued and underappreciated. Everyone is eagerly anticipating upcoming negotiations in the hopes of some relief from inflationary pressures.
The retail and supporting sectors are also places where members find themselves working on any given day. Upward of 7,000 members work in these sectors in the Prairies. In Winnipeg, workers at five Save-On-Foods stores are represented by CLAC. In Alberta, workers at all 44 Save-On-Foods stores are represented by CLAC, and over 400 members are employed by Real Canadian Wholesale Club at 7 locations across Alberta.
Supporting these retail grocery operations are members working in logistics at the TCL Supply Chain Inc. warehouse in Acheson, Alberta, and Buy-Low Foods Ltd. warehouse and Associated Grocers drivers in Calgary. In Edmonton, more than 400 members at Maple Leaf Poultry are processing and packaging the chicken you buy at your store. CLAC has been proud to represent these hard-working people since 2017, and we are excited for the value they bring to our membership.
In the remanufacturing world, we represent workers employed at the OEM Remanufacturing Company Inc. facility in Edmonton. The projection of growth in this business is exponential, which is exciting. OEM employs approximately 700 hardworking Local 56 members, which is slated to grow to 800 in the coming year.
These technicians are specialized in what they do, whether it be with powertrain or engine components or support positions such as material handlers and paint and packagers. They work mainly on CAT equipment at different stages in an assembly line-style system. This heavy equipment then finds itself on mining sites and large construction projects.
All the members working in these industries faced incredible challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. All were considered essential service workers and were forced to continue working in the face of very intimidating circumstances. We owe all of them a great deal of thanks for keeping our lives as normal as possible during what was an unprecedented world event in our lifetime.
As we move forward into new times, be sure to take a moment to thank your fellow members the next time you see them giving their skills and talents for all of our benefit.