Electrician-turned-labour-activist Laird Cronk on November 29 became the new president of the British Columbia Federation of Labour (BC FED) – an organization that lobbies on behalf of about 500,000 workers in dozens of member unions across the province.
Cronk’s win had been expected for weeks given that the leaders of the BC Fed’s most powerful unions were all supporting him. The only question was whether the win would be by acclamation, which it was.
Sussanne Skidmore, Cronk’s running mate, also won her position as the BC Fed’s secretary treasurer by acclamation.
Cronk had been an officer and vice-president at the BC Fed. He was also listed on the BC Fed website as an international representative with the 1st District Office of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), servicing IBEW local unions in B.C., Alberta and the Yukon.
“We are stronger and better as a labour movement when we work together,” Cronk said in a speech to delegates. “Let’s get this job done. Let’s get out there together. Let’s build."
The vacancy in the top role at the BC Fed came about because previous president Irene Lanzinger decided to move into what she told Business in Vancouver would be “semi-retirement,” given that the 64-year-old said that she is open to working on some short-term contracts.
Past contests for the top job at the BC Fed have not had the same unanimity that the organization showed today.
In 2014, when about 2,000 delegates elected Lanzinger to a first term as president of the BC Fed, it was by a narrow 57-vote margin, over challenger Amber Hockin.
Lanzinger counted on support from the Hospital Employees’ Union, the Health Sciences Association, Unifor and the BC Teachers’ Federation, among others. Hockin had support from the Canadian Union of Public Employees BC, the United Steelworkers District 3 and the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union.