OE987 talks with Clarence Anderson
OE987 is committed to seeing our members thrive with good job opportunities, workplace benefits and appropriate wages. We’re proud to say that many of our members join for life and tell us how their membership has had a positive impact on their careers and personal lives.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with Clarence Anderson, OE987 member for almost 30 years. Clarence, one of our many members who identifies as an Indigenous Manitoban, shared with us some of his thoughts on how the Union has had an impact on his career and how he’s seen OE987 make a difference for other Manitobans with Indigenous heritage. Read our full interview with Clarence below:
[OE987] How long have you been a member of OE987?
[Clarence Anderson] I’ve been a member since 1989. Back when I started it was still Local 901! So yeah, I’ve been with Local 987 for over 25 years now.
How has your membership with OE987 benefitted your career?
It’s opened up a lot of job opportunities. I’ve been able to work on a lot of different projects that I wouldn’t have been able to if I wasn’t a member. I’m a tower crane operator. I’m working at the Hydro dam (Keeyask) right now and it’s going really good. I’m seeing more First Nations operators, more heavy equipment operators. There’s a lot of opportunity.
Approximately half of OE987’s membership are of Indigenous culture, how does it feel to be part of a union that supports Indigenous Manitobans?
I’m surprised by the numbers! But it’s good, I’m seeing more and more First Nations people getting involved in these jobs. Like the Hydro dam, a lot of Native [Manitoban’s] are getting trained in a trade now to work on this project.
Are there any specific ways you’ve seen OE987 support Indigenous Manitobans?
I feel that we’ve been treated really well; I’m on the executive board. The union encourages a lot of training and advancement. My nephew is a tower crane operator and he’s in college right now to take mobile, furthering his training. The union encourages this and with mobile and tower crane training you’ll never be out of work. They encourage you to take the training when it comes up. I know one guy from Fox Lake First Nation; he’s going to take a tower crane course. And really it’s the cream of the crop for heavy equipment operators; you’re on top of the world. Sitting on the highest crane, 265 feet, I see everything. There are beautiful views. The union helps to really get you there.
How would you describe OE987 to people who may be interested in joining?
It’s very good. You get job opportunities you couldn’t get on unless you’re a union member.
Why do you think unions are still important today?
For our working rights, our bargaining power. What I see now is the government is trying to cutback wages and the only ones who profit are the upper class, where they’ll keep making money. But the middle class will go down. So at least we know our wages are decent. We don’t want to go back and suddenly we’re making 10 dollars less than we were. We gotta be able to keep up with inflation.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
Being part of the union since ’89… the Union has been very good for me. I’ve had great opportunities for different jobs working on pipelines and dams; I’ve been in Winnipeg doing high rises. Been interviewed before for TV [about work opportunities for Indigenous Manitobans] and if I’m looked at as a role model for First Nations, that’s great. I’m proud my nephew will be a role model for the younger generations.