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Parsons new UNW president

Laity, Johnston also elected to executive

Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Sep 04/02) - Promising to represent members with an "aggressive approach," Todd Parsons was elected Monday as president of the Union of Northern Workers (UNW).

"I pledge to be personable and to consider all input given by the members," said Parsons in his election speech.

He said what he lacks in executive experience, "I make up in confidence."

Parsons beat out contender Sheila Laity for the top position by a vote of 17-13. Laity was voted in as the union's first vice-president. Mo Johnston, former first vice-president, will take over as second vice-president.

Parsons works as a firefighter at the Yellowknife airport, a position he will have to give up to serve full-time as the paid union president.

Laity works as a nurse educator in Rae and Johnston works as a registered nurse at Stanton Territorial Hospital.

"I'm overwhelmed," Parsons said. "I wouldn't say I'm nervous. I'm very enthusiastic ... What I pledge to the membership is to listen to each and every member, to maintain an open-door policy. I've also pledged to help develop the locals themselves."

Other candidates were campaigning on other platforms.

"We ... need fat salaries and big cars," said Johnston in her pre-election speech.

She quoted her father who told her "the only reason you work for someone else is for the money."

Laity told convention-goers she would "invite the active participation of you, the members. You must feel welcome."

Each of the candidates made specific pledges.

The union needs to more actively solicit member opinion before going into collective bargaining, said Laity.

Parsons promised more clearly written minutes of executive meetings, to help members understand the rationale behind decisions made by union brass.

Johnston said economic indicators show the union has much work to do. With a 3.2 per cent inflation rate in Yellowknife, she said GNWT workers will actually be behind by 0.6 per cent by the time their contract ends.

"That's not a raise. It's a pay cut," she said.