Delivering the message
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow
will ever stop Brenda Laslo from delivering an important prevention message. A letter carrier by trade, Laslo is also a respected health, safety and environmental activist.
When she is not wearing her postal carrier’s uniform, Laslo, former President and current Vice President of Local 614 of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), can be found wearing a tee shirt or button touting a humanitarian cause and participating at one of many labour conferences, conventions or rallies. She sits on the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Women’s Committee representing CUPW on women’s issues. Moreover, she volunteers with not one, but two labour councils — St. Catharines and District and Oakville and District.
As editor of the labour councils’ yearbooks she has gained valuable communications experience. According to Laslo, “Information is only effective if you pass it on to someone else. Otherwise it’s as if you never had that knowledge in the first place.”
After graduating from Labour College and taking numerous Workers Centre programs, Laslo decided to further test this philosophy by recently becoming a Workers Centre-qualified instructor. This past spring she delivered her first Level 1 program. Union leadership attending the course were impressed. They have since committed to broadening their training initiatives with Laslo’s help.
However, it is her work with asbestos that has also garnered Laslo greatest recognition. As worker co-chair of the joint health and safety committee since 1991, Laslo was called to investigate asbestos exposures occurring in a building shared by Canada Post and Revenue Canada. Laslo and other union officials convinced their employer to relocate postal workers while the asbestos was properly removed. Before transferring to the new location though Laslo and the joint committee inspected the building and recommended several improvements. This resulted in the installation of a new state of the art ventilation system, new lighting, smoke detectors, locker rooms and water pipes.
Says Gerry Deveau, CUPW’s National Representative for the Ontario Region, “Brenda has participated in many areas of the union, but she is particularly adept at pushing forward on health and safety issues. Her considerable knowledge and experience especially around the issue of asbestos has been, and continues to be, a great asset to our organization.”
Not surprising the St. Catharines and Oakville labour councils concur with this assessment of Laslo’s ability and commitment. Both have presented her with a Workers Centre/Labour Council volunteer awards.