The new year marks a fresh start with an interim president of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 480 in Trail.
President Brian Onyschak’s first official day in the role was Monday, though he brings with him decades of experience, including 15 years as the local’s elected grievance chair and since 2015, Local 480 Vice President elect.
With the recent retirement of former president Armindo deMedeiros, as per the Steelworkers’ constitution, Onyschak moved into the position and will head the local until the term expires in April.
“With 2018 being an election year it will be a bit busier than normal,” Onyschak told the Trail Times. “I do plan to put my name forward for the president position in April, and if I am successful, I look forward to serving the membership for the next three years.”
Notably, all Local 480 executive positions will up for election in April.
“If re-elected, my goal is to work with the new executive to ensure that they are given the proper training and support to succeed going forward,” he explained. “We have a strong group of younger activists getting involved and I would like nothing more than be able to pass on my knowledge and experience to them.”
Onyschak says, “I have no doubt that Local 480 will continue to be a powerful voice for the labor movement and, in particular, for the hard working men and women at Teck.”
His long career began in May 1979 as an employee for the company, then owned by Cominco. Onyschak’s firsthand union dealings began at the same time – 39 years and counting – after being approached by an executive member, the young worker signed up as a shop steward.
“Since that time I have continued to be active with my union working my way up through the ranks holding a number of executive positions,” he said.
Closing in on four decades of union involvement, there’s many proud moments Onyschak recalls, helping both worker and supporting the community.
“A highlight of my time with Local 480 is the support and solidarity of our membership,” he said. “Time after time our membership has stepped up to support their local union when called upon.”
The Local 480 team is often seen at community events like the Trail outdoor market and BC Rivers Day, cooking up hot dogs and burgers for local causes, one of those being the Gordy Steep Sick Children’s Memorial Fund.
The fund provides financial assistance for local families with sick children, and was established in memory of Gord Steep who passed away in 2008.
“Gord was a long time 480 member and a strong passionate union activist throughout his entire career,” Onyschak shared. “Local 480 has always been a strong community supporter and we will continue to be. We are very proud of all the charities we support both locally and beyond.”