One of the features of our blog will be a recurring article with the intent to get to know our Members better. We will be calling this the “ATU 583 Spotlight” as our objective is to spotlight Members and learn more about their decision to be more active in the Union, as well as to get to know them more as people.
Our first Spotlight will be on Renee Dunn. Renee is a nearly 18-year ATU Local 583 Member and badge 2071 on Shuttle. She was previously an ATU 583 Steward and as of this January is now the Community Shuttle representative on our Executive Board.
How did you first get involved with Unionism? I grew up in a union household and learned at an early age that a collective voice was always going to be the strongest voice. I learned through my family and their involvement in unions, that Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” rang true both close to home and for larger socio-economic issues.
Do you sit on any of the Local 583 Committees? If so, which ones and how did your involvement start? What benefits do you feel you get out of the Committee(s)? My involvement in ATU 583 includes past involvement on the Women’s Committee, where I was part of the amazing team that represented the ATU 583 on previous Calgary Pride Parades and was involved in the book drive for Calgary Reads and now includes sitting on the Political Action Committee. Currently I am also a member of the Health and Safety Committee as well as the Joint Work Health and Safety Committee, which has certainly been a learning curve! I have also been active with different events that had been sponsored by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) and the Calgary District Labour Council (CDLC). Volunteering and sitting on committees gives me a chance to make the difference that was taught to me so early and now, also includes my involvement as President of the Mountainview Electoral District Association for the NDP.
What educational opportunities have you had during your time as an ATU 583 representative and what did you gain from said education? I have been fortunate to have been involved in several educational opportunities throughout my union involvement including attending the Prairie School for Union Women on two occasions. The courses I attended provided a rich learning experience on “Becoming an Ally” and “Privilege” that I have been able to incorporate into my personal and work life and I would encourage any ATU 583 members that identify as female to pursue this opportunity. I’ve also attended “Mental Health First Aid,” as well as other ATU Steward training courses, in house training and listening courses. I find these learnings help equip me with the tools to better assist and advocate for my coworkers.
What challenges have you noticed or had brought to your attention for your work area? I am a Community Shuttle driver and while I know we have come a long way, with increasing growth (aside from current COVID happenings), comes new challenges that demand strong representation. The Union is us- all of us and we need to band together as a collective voice.
Please tell us a bit about yourself, your family and/or your interests during your free time: In my younger days I played lacrosse before transitioning to hockey and ending up coaching women’s hockey. The experiences I learned from then fostered my deep appreciation for teamwork. I consider myself a human rights advocate and while I value critical discourse, I also value offering solutions to the problem and ongoing constructive dialogue. This past March I turned 60 and Wow! What a crazy year I have had. I depend more now than ever before on the social interactions we have, be them in person (social distanced and masked for sure) or through online and texting or a good old phone call. I’ve learned this year how precious life is and that family and friends keep me balanced and nurtured. My partner of 23 years, Jenn, and our dogs- one eyed Charlie and our doodle Elphie have grounded me and kept me focused and energized throughout my battle with throat cancer. I also feel a deep sense of gratitude to my family, my friends and my Brothers and Sisters at ATU 583 for their support and encouragement.