Local 1006A is proud to profile the exceptional stewards who make up our great union. This week, we are featuring long-time activist Gord Knowles from Laura’s YIG in Kanata.
Since becoming a steward in 1976, Gord Knowles has dedicated his life to making a difference in the lives of his co-workers.
He has helped members in many ways over the years, from resolving issues over wages to seniority to scheduling.
“I am inspired to be a steward just knowing that I have made a difference in my workplace and being there for my members,” he said. “It’s about listening to our members when they have issues inside and outside the workplace and just being there for them 24/7."
Knowles' history with the union dates back to 1973, when he worked at Steinbergs Grocery. Wanting to improve the union representation at his store, he became a steward three years later.
“I became a steward simply because the steward we had at the time was not looking after the members very well and so I challenged this person and became the steward and have been ever since,” Knowles said.
Over the years, his store would change names to Laura’s YIG but Knowles’ activism remained constant. Since his early years, Knowles has gone on to serve as a Vice-President on the union’s Executive Board, a member of the Joint Health and Safety Committee at his store, and as an instructor with the local union’s Education and Training Department.
He has also seen first-hand the difference the union movement has made.
"This union makes a huge difference for our members,” Knowles said. “Even with COVID-19, all the information from our president and our Health & Safety representative has been outstanding. I don't know where we would be without them being there for us. I have been in some non-union workplaces and it makes me sad to see the lack of information and personal protective equipment that the non-union workers have.”
Even though being a steward comes with its own challenges, Knowles would do it all over again.
"It makes me feel good when I can help a member,” he said. “The union way is the only way for all workers and even though everyone may not be union members, we will always be there for all workers."