The Retail Wholesale Union suffered a big loss on February 21st when long time shop steward Tod Brucker passed away.  Brother Brucker had been battling cancer since last year and he passed away peacefully in his sleep.

Tod worked at Viceroy Homes since shortly after the Union was certified in 1998 and during that time he served as a shop steward and on numerous bargaining committees.

Tod was also a family man.  As a devoted husband and father of six you didn't have to speak to Tod for very long before the conversation turned to his family and what they were up to.

I had the privilege of working closely with Tod over the years and I always looked forward to being entertained and enlightened by his wonderful sense of humour..  He was the type of person who could lighten up a room just by strolling in.

Current Local 580 Outside Guard and Viceroy Plant Chair Keith Halovich was also lucky enough to have worked with Tod for many years.  Since his passing Keith and I have shared many stories regarding Tod's exploits.  As sad as we are our conversations have invariably ended in laughter and we know Tod would be delighted to know that he is keeping us entertained even after his passing,  The rest of the Viceroy Committee and the RWU office staff also have their favourite Tod stories.  

The entire RWU staff would be laughing when Tod would call up and ask to speak to the "Hammer".  Only once did he have to explain the he meant Shawn "the Hammer" Lakusta.  After that I acquired a new nick name.  He always had a kind word for the staff when he called.

Tod was fiercely loyal to the RWU.  One of the enduring memories that I have of him is when during some very difficult bargaining another Union came sniffing around looking to raid the RWU.  Tod called me immediately after having told the raiders where to go.  On my next visit to Viceroy the raiders in their distinctive green jackets were still hanging around.  I'll never forget the sight of Tod charging out of the front doors camera in hand and yelling "there they are" as he attempted to get their pictures.  The raiders turned tail and ran to their car never to be seen again. 

Tod loved to golf and he was really at home on the course.  He registered for the RWU's Shop Steward Appreciation Golf Tournament last year but he had to withdraw when struck by illness.  He called me and expressed a desire to attend just to hang around and he was advised that his presence in any form would be more than welcomed.  Unfortunately he was not well enough to attend on that day and his absence was felt by all who knew him.  Plans are already under way to honour Tod in a suitable way at this year's tournament.

Tod at home on the golf course with good friend and caddy for the day Local 580 Outside Guard and Viceroy Homes Plant Chair Keith Halovich.

Thanks for being a great friend and Union brother.  You will be missed by all the people whose lives you touched.

Solidarity Forever Brother,

Shawn Lakusta
RWU Provincial Representative

Last week former Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (our name before we became the RWU following our disafiliation) International Representative Ray Haynes was arrested for standing on railroad tracks in White Rock in protest of coal trains headed to Delta Port.  The following article written by Rod Mickleburgh appeared in the May 10th edition of the Globe and Mail:

Haynes happy at last

Ray (in yellow) is handcuffed by police

It was, thought the old trade union leader, a blot on his labour copy book.

Despite active involvement in the trenches of numerous wildcats and illegal strikes, particularly the bitter Lenkurt Electric shutdown of 1966 that sent four labour leaders to jail for contempt of court, and seven years at the helm of the then-powerful B.C. Federation of Labour, Ray Haynes had never been arrested.

The fact gnawed at him. Until now.

Last Saturday, still militant after all these years, Mr. Haynes stood on the railway tracks passing through White Rock, and briefly stopped a coal train headed to Roberts Banks. He was arrested by the RCMP, along with 12 other protesters, including Simon Fraser University professor and environmentalist, Mark Jaccard.

“It’s off my bucket list,” a smiling Mr. Haynes said of his arrest.

The experience didn’t come easily. He travelled the day before from his Sunshine Coast home for the anti-fossil fuel protest, arrived on the scene at 5 a.m. and waited all day through the chill, before a coal train finally showed up about 6 p.m.

By then, the feisty trade unionist could barely move. His legs were essentially frozen stiff. “I was in bad shape,” he recalled. “I couldn’t get into the paddy wagon. They had to lift me up.”

He was booked, photographed and fined $115.

The cause was worth it, according to Mr. Haynes. The threat to the global environment from fossil fuels, such as coal, is simply too stark to be ignored, he said.

“The experts are saying that if we don’t do something, it will soon be too late.” Mr. Haynes turns 84 next month.

RWU Provincial Representative Shawn Lakusta congratulated Brother Haynes on crossing an item off on his bucket list.  "I consider my self very lucky to have over the years received some very wise counsel from someone like Ray.  Ray and his colleagues fought many battles over the years with the end result being that working peoples lives have been improved.  Its always an honour to hear from Ray."

We at the RWU are wondering what bucket item Ray will be looking to cross off next.

Masset B.C.,  has recently been in the news for a motorcycle washing up on the beach as a result of the Tsunami that pounded the coast of Japan.  It is a little know fact that the Retail Wholesale Union represents the Co-Operative workers in both Masset and in Skidegate.

Located on the northern tip of the Queen Charlotte Island, the Co-Operative is the predominate grocery serving there areas. Both locations have what is called a “Home Department” that supplies everything from building materials to toaster ovens.

The area itself is rich with heritage. The Haida natives have done an excellent job in preserving their heritage. Famous artists such as Reggie Davidson continue preserving Haida tradition with everything from touring the globe with his traditional dance group, to creating totem poles.

 Having a membership located so far away from the Union offices poses several different challenges. Many of which could not be addressed without the help of our Union Stewards.

In Masset, we have had the good fortune of the services of Melanie Woode. Melanie has been a long time Union activist fighting for the rights of the members she represents. Melanie has taken any opportunity to educate herself to ensure she is an effective steward. Melanie recently participated in the Unions in house Shop Steward School where Union Counsel Tony Glavin was the instructor. Melanie has recently appointed Colleen Bielby to the committee as the previous back up steward has retired.

In Skidegate we have again the good fortune of long time Union Activist Peter Engel. Peter also has recently appointed Grace Drager as his back up steward.

The Retail Wholesale Union is very proud of its diverse membership.