Ken Georgetti

Mentors
2015
Scholars:
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He brings to the Foundation community a strong ability to combine the activist traditions of the Canadian labour movement with an in-depth understanding of the world of business.

Ken Georgetti has been both the youngest and the longest serving president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).  In his 15-year term (from 1999 to 2014), Ken led the CLC to add 750,000 new members - for a record 3.3 million - while achieving significant legislative improvements for workers. Before being elected CLC president, Ken led the BC Federation of Labour for 13 years, more than doubling its membership to 450,000. 

Following Nova Scotia’s Westray Mine tragedy IN 1992, when 26 miners died in a methane gas explosion, Ken led affiliated unions to win passage of the “Westray Act,” which holds corporate executives criminally responsible where negligence is responsible for workers’ deaths on the job. Under Ken’s leadership, the CLC also persuaded Parliament to pass federal legislation that for the first time protects workers in employer bankruptcies so that wages and pension contributions take precedence over the claims of other creditors. Equally as important, the legislation prevents bankruptcy judges from unilaterally altering collective agreements.  Ken also spearheaded a campaign that led to a broad social and political consensus around the need to expand the Canada Pension Plan so that today’s young people have a better basic pension when they retire.  And he was instrumental in building an international movement of shareholder activism, as chair of the International Trade Union Confederation’s Committee on Workers Capital. 

Ken’s lifelong work to protect the health and safety of workers led him to push the labour movement to make a unified stand against the export of deadly asbestos and for government to implement a transition program for workers affected by the winding down of the asbestos industry in Canada.  

Part of Ken’s unique approach comes from his ability to combine the traditional militancy of Canada’s labour movement with a deep understanding of business. Ken honed this expertise through the use of worker pension funds in 1989 to create Concert Properties, Western Canada’s largest unionized residential developer with $1.6 billion in assets today.   

Ken has been awarded the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia, and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals for his significant contributions to labour and to public service.  In addition, ABC Life Literacy Canada named him Life Literacy Ambassador for his advocacy for adult literacy stemming from his experience as a union representative helping his co-workers access literacy training. Born in Trail, BC, Ken comes from a family of union activists and worked as a hard rock miner and pipefitter at the giant Cominco smelter.