Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ex-union boss linked to Exel wins NDP nomination

George Heyman
Former B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union president George Heyman won the race to become the B.C. NDP candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview on Oct. 21 against Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs.

But what kind of MLA might Heyman be, if he can unseat B.C. Liberal incumbent Margaret MacDiarmid in the May 2013 provincial election?

MacDiarmid was the Citizens' Services minister who was the titular lead for the privatization of the Liquor Distribution Branch's warehousing and distribution, before she was shuffled to the Health Ministry in September.

MacDiarmid, to her credit, agreed to an interview with me. Liquor minister Rich Coleman, whose hands were all over the file, behind-the-scenes, did not.

Heyman was a key player in the years-long saga during his 1999 to 2008 tenure as BCEGU president. Under his watch, the BCGEU successfully thwarted the Liberals' 2003 bid to privatize LDB's retail and logistics. But, from 2005 to 2008, Heyman and BCGEU organizing director Jeff Fox held closed-door meetings with Exel Logistics' lobbyists Mark Jiles and Rob Madore. Exel expressed confidence it had support from the BCGEU in its Oct. 6, 2009 "Project Last Spike" internal memo. In a nutshell, the memo said the BCGEU was willing to sacrifice the warehouse workers in Vancouver and Kamloops warehouses in order to keep the workers who are employed across the province in the LDB retail chain. Current president Darryl Walker, who succeeded Heyman, denied that was the case.

Heyman, now executive director of the Sierra Club B.C., didn't want to answer any questions from me about BCGEU, Exel and LDB when I contacted him in June for this story in Business in Vancouver

“I prefer not to comment on BCGEU issues,” Heyman told me. “I've been gone a long time and am doing other work these days.” 

Now that Mr. Heyman has his sights set on a seat in the Legislature, he will have to comment on BCGEU issues. It is his claim to fame and his constituents have a right to know about what he did while the democratically elected head of one of B.C.'s most-powerful unions. 

Meanwhile, the latest #LiquorLeaks release (below, via Freedom of Information) offers a glimpse into how the bureaucrats managing the file were planning their summer and fall. Oct. 9-12 was supposed to be the evaluation committee's Phase three climax. A proponent was supposed to be recommended and approved by Treasury Board on or around Oct. 16. 

Of course, the government and BCGEU reached a surprise tentative agreement for a two-year contract on Sept. 27 that scuttled the tendering process. Even NDP critic Maurine Karagianis was in disbelief, speculating that something else drove the Liberals to end the privatization and that the BCGEU settlement was a convenient cover to hide behind.

Response - CTZ-2012-00133

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