President, BC Federation of Labour
Age: 60 | First Appearance When she was elected head of the BC Federation of Labour late last year, Irene Lanzinger had big boots to fill. Her predecessor, Jim Sinclair, was a loud, passionate advocate for the province’s workers, a one-time journalist whose popularity was evidenced by his unprecedented 15-year term. Lanzinger, a former teacher who went on to become president of the BC Teachers’ Federation, is the first woman to head the organization (even though women make up more than half of union membership in the province) and thus serves as a ground-breaking, if belated, role model. Her more concrete goals—a $15 minimum wage; stronger health and safety laws; countering the temporary foreign workers program—will likely prove more elusive. With union membership declining sharply over the past decade, and a Liberal government hostile to unions making it more difficult to organize them, Lanzinger has her work cut out for her—and the half million members whose interests she represents.
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