FFAW executive board endorses Greg Pretty as union's next leader
On the same day Keith Sullivan unexpectedly announced his departure as president of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest private sector union, the organization's top ranks endorsed another longtime labour advocate, Greg Pretty, as his successor.
In a press release issued Thursday evening, Fish, Food & Allied Workers-Unifor said, "Greg Pretty has agreed to put his name forward, and after discussions, the board made the unanimous decision to support him."
At FFAW-Unifor headquarters in St. John's on Thursday morning, Sullivan announced he was stepping down as president after eight years on the job and just one year into his latest three-year term.
Sullivan offered very little in the way of explanation for his sudden departure, except to say it's "a personal choice."
The process by which Sullivan will be replaced was also announced during the morning news conference. Under the rules of the union's constitution, any member in good standing can seek the nomination for president. But since it's not a regularly scheduled general election, and Sullivan is leaving before the end of his term, the entire membership of roughly 14,000 will not get to vote for his successor.
The more than 60 members of the inshore council and the industrial/retail/offshore council will be eligible to vote on Jan. 5 if there is a contested nomination.
The union's executive board, meanwhile, met Thursday afternoon to discuss the sudden leadership vacuum and unanimously tapped Pretty as their preferred choice for president.
Pretty, director of the 25-member industrial/retail/offshore council, has a long history with the union, which represents about 14,000 members.
"It's our responsibility as an executive board to maintain stability and direction for the members of this union," said Tony Doyle, vice-president of the union's 39-member inshore council.
"[Pretty's] an experienced negotiator and will have little to learn moving into this role. It will be a smooth transition for this union and our members, and we're grateful that he's agreed to take it on."
Despite Pretty's strong support from the executive board, Doyle said the union will follow the rules of the constitution and hold a vote if other nominations come forward.
The nomination period runs Dec. 15-29.
Sullivan was just the union's third president in its more than 50-year history. Most FFAW members are in the fishing industry, but the FFAW also represents workers in the hospitality, brewing, metal fabrication, window manufacturing and oil industries.
The next general election takes place in 2024, and should the position be contested at that time, a full-membership vote will take place.