In February of this year our 1st Vice President Terry Engler announced that he was approaching retirement and would not be seeking a further term of office with the labour council. We thank Brother Engler for his years of committed leadership and activism.
Brother Engler was also President of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 400. The Local invited VDLC President Stephen von Sychowski to their biennial meeting to say a few words of thanks to Brother Engler.
The following are the notes of his remarks.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to say a few words at your meeting today.
My name is Stephen von Sychowski, and I am the President of the Vancouver and District Labour Council.
As you know, your President Terry Engler is retiring soon. In anticipation of this, he has stepped away from his work with our labour council. That has been a big adjustment for us, because Terry has been a familiar presence and a leading voice at VDLC meetings, committees, and at our Executive Board, for many years.
Terry was a long-time delegate to the VDLC and joined the Executive Board back in 2004.
That was about a year before I joined the Board, at that time in the role of Young Worker Representative.
With Bill Saunders’ retirement and a subsequent shuffle in the table officers positions, Terry became 1st Vice President in 2011 and served in that role throughout the entire Presidency of Joey Hartman and the first two year of my time in that role.
During the fifteen year that Terry served on our Executive Board he always brought a thoughtful, principled, and progressive analysis to our work.
He would cut through the noise that sometimes can accompany important issues and bring the discussion down to root of the matter.
He would keep us centered in an outlook that always advanced social justice, and the best interests of working people.
He played a crucial stabilizing role through whatever changes or difficulties we faced.
As 1st Vice President he was one of the main faces of the labour council, literally steering our work via his role as chair but also politically steering it as well.
For me personally, and I believe for many of us, he has been a trusted source for good advice and a wealth of information.
Terry is part of a long line of ILWU leaders and activists who have found a home for some of their leadership and activism in the VDLC.
Another such leader was Frank Kennedy, who held a variety of positions with ILWU including Secretary Treasurer of ILWU Canada as well as serving as Secretary Treasurer of the VDLC for many years, and being a key figure in the establishment of the Coalition of Progressive Electors.
Frank Kennedy said something about leadership that stuck with me when I was a young activist. He said “If unsure of your decision do what is right. Not for you, not for your friends, but for the whole.”
I feel like that exemplifies the leadership Terry has brought to our labour council. Grounded in principles. Leading by example.
So, speaking for the entire Executive Board. Speaking, I hazard to say, for the entire Labour Council. And certainly not least of all speaking for myself, I want to say that, Terry, you are sorely missed around our Executive Board table.
Thank you for all of your contributions to the VDLC, the labour movement, and progressive movements in Vancouver over the course of your career.
We wish you all the best in your well-deserved retirement.