Manitoba

New president aims to rebuild Winnipeg Labour Council after predecessor's resignation

Melissa Dvorak was voted in as the new president of the Winnipeg Labour Council Tuesday, filling the vacancy left by the previous president who resigned suddenly earlier this year. 

'I'm just really hopeful that we can move on,' says Melissa Dvorak after Tuesday's vote

Melissa Dvorak, centre, was elected as the new president of the Winnipeg Labour Council Tuesday night. (Melissa Dvorak/Facebook)

Melissa Dvorak was voted in as the new president of the Winnipeg Labour Council Tuesday, filling the vacancy left by the previous president who resigned suddenly earlier this year. 

Dvorak was the president of Manitoba General Employees' Union local #369, and works for Macdonald Youth Services.

"I'm looking forward to being a strong voice for labour at the municipal level," Dvorak told CBC News. "Everybody was well accepted and everyone is excited to start working together."

She added that she's going to try to build up the labour council, develop relationships within the labour sector, as well as attract new affiliates and partners to take part in meetings.

Mike Kelly, a re-elected executive member of the labour council, said Dvorak was elected after months of campaigning, because she promised to create a stronger voice for the labour council, as well as to restart advocacy at the municipal level.

Tuesday's vote came about because Basia Sokal, the former president of the Winnipeg Labour Council, abruptly announced her plans to resign in March, after being in the role for over two years.

Basia Sokal resigned as president of the labour council, alleging sexism and bullying by her male colleagues. (CBC)

Sokal alleged that her male colleagues bullied her, made sexist remarks and pressured her to quit. She also said that union labour leaders and executives, and the provincial Opposition NDP, did not listen to or act on her complaints.

Manitoba NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine posted on Facebook at the time that she was proud of Sokal for speaking out.

At the time, Sokal said she did not feel comfortable naming the people who made the comments.

There is an ongoing investigation into the allegations.

Dvorak is aware of the circumstances surrounding her predecessor's resignation, but feels confident there will be no repeat, saying she has built respectful relationships with labour leaders.

"I'm just really hopeful that we can move on from there, and we can rebuild the Winnipeg Labour Council to be what it should be," she said. "I have total confidence in everyone to be respectful to one another."

The Winnipeg Labour Council is a body that consists of labour union affiliates such as Amalgamated Transit Union, and it focuses on advocacy for workers.

About the Author

Nicholas Frew is an online reporter based in Winnipeg. Hailing from Newfoundland, Frew moved to Halifax to attend journalism school before moving to Winnipeg. Prior to joining CBC Manitoba, Frew interned at the Winnipeg Free Press. Story idea? Email at nick.frew@cbc.ca

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