The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour has elected a LeRoy resident who works at the Humboldt and District Hospital as its next president.
Lori Johb was given the nod for the job Oct. 27 during the federation’s convention. She succeeds Larry Hubich, who was the federation’s president for more than 16 years.
“There’s a lot of things that are going on that I’m really interested in and I’m really excited to work on, so this will give me an opportunity to do that,” she said.
For Johb, one of the big issues the federation will work on is increasing the province’s minimum wage, which is $11.06 an hour.
“It’s really hard to get by on the minimum wage as it sits as the second-lowest in Canada and we know that low wage earners, especially in smaller communities, they spend every nickel they make in their communities. That goes to local businesses and local communities and I think an increase to that would help our economy in a really great way.”
Improving occupational health and safety is another focus Johb will have as president. She said there’s been more people killed on the job this year compared to the last several years, something that was highlight at a candle-lighting ceremony helding during the federation’s convention.
“We lit 55 candles and that is just way too many. That is not acceptable and we need to do better. I believe that I can work on relationships and build relationships within occupational health and safety and WCB to do better,” she added, adding that she believes the federation and the WCB can work together to make improvements.
Domestic violence is also a major focus. Saskatchewan has one of the highest rate of domestic violence in the country.
“I think the labour movement is in a great position to bring more awareness and to work with shelters, interested parties, community groups, advocacy groups to make sure that the issue of domestic violence is not pushed aside and we continue to push for improvements to benefits to workers affected by domestic violence.”
Johb got involved in the labour movement when she started working at the Lerose Lodge in LeRoy in 1988.
“It wasn’t long while I was there that I was trained as a shop steward and the roles kind of just evolved.”
She ended up becoming the union representative for the lodge.
When the lodge closed down, she moved to the Quill Plains Lodge in Watson, working there for 15 years before starting at the Humboldt and District Hospital in 2008.
“Through that, I’ve been involved in my union, been involved in many different roles: shop steward, executive board member, trustee, chair of many committees at different times.”
In 2005, she became a vice-president on the federation’s board, representing the Service Employees International Union. In 2010 she ran for secretary-treasurer of the federation.
“It was mostly the simple fact that the outgoing treasurer asked me if I would be interested. He was looking for somebody to be a successor,” she said when asked why she ran back then. “An opportunity to step up was presented and I decided to take that opportunity. I was successful.”
Johb held the role until she was elected president. When Hubich decided to step down as president, she talked with federation members to determine if a bid for the position would be successful.
The new president also said the province needs to remove its mandate to require public sector workers to take a 3.5 per cent salary rollback in order to get contact negotiations with public sector workers moving.
“We got a promise from minister [of labour relations Don] Morgan that mandate was off the table,” she said. “We need to see it in writing and we need to see it at the bargaining table.”