CASTLEGAR—CUPE BC President Mark Hancock, along with general vice-presidents Susan Blair and Ian Norton, CUPE Regional Director Robin Jones, and several staff members joined local activists on the weekend to celebrate the many contributions of retiring Kootenay District Council President Gerry Shmon.
Shmon, a custodian for Kootenay Lake School District, has retired from his union duties after 23 years of active service for CUPE 748, 20 years on the West Kootenay Labour Council, and 18 years with the KDC, the final eight as president. At a rousing tribute dinner held in his honour on Friday night, the accolades poured in for Shmon—including a letter from CUPE National President Paul Moist thanking the Kootenay activist for his many years of dedicated service.
“CUPE members will never forget your selfless commitment to working people, your generosity, and your sense of humour. We are really going to miss you, Gerry,” said Hancock, thanking Shmon on behalf of Secretary-Treasurer Paul Faoro, the CUPE BC executive and the union’s 85,000 members in B.C.
Many in attendance spoke of Shmon’s persuasiveness as an activist—particularly his gift for convincing others to get involved with their union—and of the great solidarity example he set in never missing an opportunity to support striking workers on their picket lines, including those of other unions.
Hancock also paid tribute to Rocco Mastrobuono, a water and sewer construction foreman for the City of Nelson who retired as president of CUPE 339 after 28 years of service to his union, and CUPE 2087 president Jean Poole, who was not able to attend the event and has put her own retirement on hold due to the recent passing of her loving husband Bill. Mastrobuono and Shmon, in turn, thanked each other for their mutual support over the years and praised Sister Poole for her dedication to CUPE members.
At its annual general meeting the next day, the KDC elected a new executive: Cheryl MacLeod (president); Pam Catsirelis (vice-president, East Kootenays); Ken Vaughan-Evans (vice-president, West Kootenays); Michelle Bennett (recording secretary); Andrew Chernoff (sergeant-at-arms); Kelly Robertson (young worker rep); and Leford Layfayette (diversity rep). The treasurer’s position is vacant.
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