At the general monthly membership meeting held on November 3, 2013 the Ottawa local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers proudly honoured four of its retired members for their outstanding contributions to the struggle of postal workers for their rights and for their overall dedication to the well-being of the membership and to that of the Union over a long period of time.
Celebrated for their deeds were Brothers Ian Paladeau, Rick Irving, John Meloche and Louis Lang. All four were awarded Lifetime Member status and were given a beautifully framed certificate attesting the merit. In order to be eligible to receive Lifetime Member status, the local where the retired member has been active must make a recommendation to the National Executive Board who reviews the contributions of the retired member and makes a decision to approve it or not. A Lifetime Member status allows the retired member to participate in all local membership meetings with voice in all of its affairs but no vote.
Close to fifty postal workers from the Ottawa Mail Processing Plant (OMPP) and stations attended the meeting. Also present at the gathering were Brother Denis Lemelin, CUPW National President, Sister Gayle Bossenberry, CUPW First National Vice-President, Brother George Kuembaum, CUPW National Secretary-Treasurer and Sister Maddie Cleroux, CUPW National Union Representative.
During the planning stage, the Ottawa local executive committee warmly invited the National representatives to attend this important event and also entrusted them with the lofty task of having to highlight the exceptional contributions the four retired members made to the life of the Union and to present them with their Lifetime Member certificate.
At the onset of the meeting, the minutes from the previous meeting were read followed by all the officers of the local executive committee waving their reports so that the meeting could proceed without delay with the celebration. The CUPW National President Denis Lemelin was then introduced. He came forward and addressed the assembled membership. He spoke at length on the conditions facing the Union at this time and the very difficult struggles that lie ahead for postal workers.
He spoke about the Harper dictatorship resuming a new parliamentary session and of its agenda to further impose anti-worker and anti-union legislations on the Canadian working class and this especially in the sphere of health and safety where retrogression is actually being sought. The National President also spoke of the necessity to further build the strength and fighting capability of the Union in the face of these attacks and referred to the inspiring leadership of the four retired CUPW activists being honoured that evening as examples for postal workers to follow.
During the meeting, all four retired members were praised for their tireless work in defence of the rights of postal workers and of the Canadian working class. Their courage and determination to uphold the dignity of labour in the face of vicious attacks by various governments over the years were highlighted. Their strong commitment to fight all of the injustices perpetrated by Canada Post against postal workers and their resolute stand to fight for redress was also stressed.
The National representatives brought to light the length of time the four retired members had spent fighting for the Union under the banner of “An Injury to One is An Injury to All” with some of the retired members going as far back as forty and forty five years ago. While all four retired members were given a dignifying acknowledgement of their exceptional contributions and a compelling account of their force of character and sense of ethics, Brother Louis Lang was especially honoured by all for having been a staunch political trade-unionist that never got caught up with business trade-unionism, always reminding everyone never to relinquish the waging of the political struggle for a better world—one which is fit for the living of the working class and broad masses of the people.
Following the presentation of honours, a motion to adjourn the formal proceedings was entertained and passed. The local executive committee invited everyone to cake and coffee, something which was very much appreciated by those in attendance. After the meeting had concluded, most workers stayed behind with the four retired members and continued socializing and sharing stories. Pictures were taken throughout the proceedings and a 15-minute video slide-show was made of the event which will be filed with the local archives early next week.