Todd Parsons has been re-elected as president of the Union of Northern Workers following a vote Sunday, marking the beginning of his sixth term as top brass.
Parsons, who became the head of the UNW in 2002, defeated challenger Brad Brake during a convention that saw delegates representing members from different UNW Locals across the Northwest Territories cast votes for the two contenders. Brake, former mayor of Forth Smith and current president of UNW Local 2, received 19 votes to Parsons’ 45. Yellowknifer was unable to reach Brake for comment.
Parsons, who credits his victory to the “significant” support he garnered during the election process and campaign, told Yellowknifer that following his re-election, it’s back to business for the union head.
“I will continue to fight for better wages and job security,” he said.
Moving forward, Parsons says ongoing bargaining negotiations remain on the agenda, including the tug-of-war between the Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) and the workers he represents.
Parsons says he’s optimistic about the input he’s received on the issue, but added members are not prepared to accept the employer’s current proposed salary increases over a four-year span.
According to Parsons, workers are mainly seeking fair wages along with whistle-blowing and mental-health protection within the collective agreement.
NTPC was unavailable for comment on Parson’s re-election or the ongoing bargaining process.
While optimistic, Parsons asserted that his members are determined to “fight for fair wages.”
Parsons is no stranger to the fight. After suffering a workplace injury decades ago, he says a lack of support from his employer instilled in him the importance of standing up for the “little guy,” and pushed him to help other workers facing similar circumstances.
“Members are sometimes afraid to take their employers to task – I did. It was invigorating and it motivated me to become the leader I am today.”
Parsons’ sixth term will also see continued negotiations with both GNWT and Hay River Health and Social Services Authority.
With no limit on terms served, Parsons says he may pursue a seventh term come 2020.