FORMER BCTF President Irene Lanzinger made history on Thursday as the first woman elected to lead the 500,000-member BC Federation of Labour.
Not only that, Lanzinger, also a former president of the Vancouver Secondary Teachers’ Association, is also the first teacher to be elected president of a provincial labour federation anywhere in Canada.
In her brief acceptance speech to more than 2,000 delegates at the BCFed convention, Lanzinger gave heartfelt thanks for their support. “I feel humbled, and excited, and totally honoured to be elected the voice of the labour movement in BC,” she said.
Lanzinger won the vigorously contested election by 57 votes over Amber Hockin, a staff member of the Canadian Labour Congress. Both women offered gracious words of congratulations, and promised to move forward in a spirit of unity.
BCTF President Jim Iker, who officially nominated Lanzinger for the position, said he was “ecstatic” at the outcome of the election. “Irene is without doubt the best person to lead the labour movement in these difficult times facing the BC Liberals,” Iker said.
“This is great news for the Federation and for working people in BC,” said Jim Sinclair, former president of the BC Federation of Labour. “I’m so glad to be leaving the Federation with Irene as the new president. Now we have to unite to push back the provincial government and defeat the federal government.”
Aaron Ekman was elected to the position of Secretary-Treasurer.
Aaron Ekman, founding president of the North Central Labour Council that represents more than 12,000 union members across northern BC, is currently a Regional Coordinator with the BCGEU.
The BC Federation of Labour represents over 500,000 members from affiliated unions across the province.
SHIRLEY Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, said in a statement: “I want to congratulate Irene Lanzinger on her selection as the new president of the BC Federation of Labour, and for earning the distinction of being the first woman elected to the position.
“I worked with Ms. Lanzinger during her time with the BC Teachers’ Federation and my time as Minister of Education – and we found constructive ways to work together. I look forward to building on that and continuing the work and the progress made by her predecessor, Jim Sinclair.
“It’s all hands on deck – union and non-union alike – if British Columbia is going to secure and build the economic development projects that support families and our province.
“I also want to wish Mr. Sinclair a well-deserved retirement after 35 years in the labour movement, and 15 years at the head of the BC Federation of Labour.
“Mr. Sinclair brought an important voice to the table as we work to ensure we have the labour force and the skilled trades required to build a liquefied natural gas and other industries throughout the province.”