Wayne Chacun admits he’s fighting an uphill battle, but it’s almost over. On Saturday, Oct. 20 he’ll find out if he can unseat the president of the largest union in Manitoba.
Chacun, a Virden paramedic, is challenging Michelle Gawronsky’s hold on the leadership of the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union (MGEU).
The union’s bi-annual convention and election is on this weekend, Oct. 18 – 20, in Winnipeg; Chacun has been campaigning for the president’s job since last winter, but he knows it won’t be a cakewalk.
Gawronsky has been the high profile leader of the MGEU for six years and an activist in the labour movement for three decades. She’s experienced and outspoken – but according to Chacun, she’s had her turn.
“During the past few years I’ve heard members saying they had concerns about our current direction and that we need to do better. I possess the leadership and team skills necessary to address these concerns and strengthen our union.”
Chacun has been with the MGEU since 2001 when he unionized Westman paramedics. He’s president of that local and has been a first vice president of the MGEU itself for four years.
One of the problems he wants to tackle is an unbalanced emphasis on certain union groups, like health care, to the detriment of others.
“There needs to be a focus on all sectors equally. I would do things differently,” he told the Empire-Advance when he first announced his candidacy in February.
He also wants more democracy for the 40,000-member organization. If elected, he intends to push for a “one member-one vote” system in which rank and file members would be allowed to vote for officers, rather than giving that privilege solely to convention delegates, which is now the case.
As the clock ticks down towards Saturday’s vote for officers at the convention, Chacun continues to campaign and get out his message about balance and fairness for MGEU members.