Nova Scotia

NSGEU elects Jason MacLean as new president

Members of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) have elected Jason MacLean as president, replacing Joan Jessome who has been the leader for the past 17 years.

MacLean works as a corrections officer in Sydney and will take a leave of absence from that position

Jason MacLean has served three terms as NSGEU vice-president. (CBC)

Members of the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU) have elected Jason MacLean as president, replacing Joan Jessome who has been the leader for the past 17 years.

In his first speech as president, MacLean spoke of his experience with racism in the workplace and how the union helped him.

"We are going to show the rest of Nova Scotia what NSGEU is and the diversity that we have in this union," he said.

MacLean said the NSGEU still had room to grow.

"I don't want us to be apologetic in who we are, in what we do, in the wages we make, the pensions we have," he said.

"I want to say 'Yes, we have that, you want to have it too,' and I want us to be able to inspire the rest of Nova Scotians to be union members."

The NSGEU is the largest union in Nova Scotia with more than 31,000 members.

Won't step back

MacLean said the Liberal government under Stephen McNeil has been attacking unions since coming to power and said he won't be stepping back from any challenge the province puts in front of them.

The union's triennial convention wraps up Saturday afternoon and the main job the 320 delegates had was to elect a new president.

MacLean has served three terms as first vice-president for the union and admits taking over for Jessome will be a big job.

"Huge shoes to fill, but I've learned from Joan and I'm going to carry on what Joan has done the last 17 years," he said.

MacLean works as a corrections officer in Sydney and will take a leave of absence to serve as president for the next three years.

Outgoing president of the NSGEU Joan Jessome with newly elected president Jason MacLean. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

"What we're looking to do is continue building from within and create NSGEU pride across this province," he said.

MacLean said he will split his time between Halifax and Sydney.

Jessome announced in December she would not reoffer and at the time the NSGEU said she would seek the secretary treasurer position of the National Union of Public and General Employees in Ottawa.

She has since changed her mind, citing family reasons and a desire to live and work in Nova Scotia.

Instead, Jessome has said she would like to focus on issues related to mental health.

With files from Anjuli Patil

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