One of Sudbury's largest employers together with one of the largest unions in the city has again made a massive contribution to the success of the United Way Centraide of North East Ontario.
The United Steelworkers Local 6500 and Vale Canada celebrated on Thursday the 40th anniversary of their annual fundraising partnership for the United Way. It was revealed that the annual joint contribution for 2022 amounted to $571,503.
Since 1982, Vale and the USW’s joint fundraising effort has been the largest contributor to the United Way Centraide North East Ontario, with more than $20 million raised in 40 years, said a joint news release.
At a lunch gathering at the USW hall, United Way officials thanked individual fundraising representatives from different Vale mines, mills and departments located across Greater Sudbury. Dozens of employees attended the lunch event, but it wasn't a full roster owing to the fact that many of the company employees who canvas for United Way each year were on shift work and not able to attend.
Campaign co-chair Tina Vincent outlined how various company departments carried out fundraising initiatives with such things as barbecue events, dress-down days and 50-50 lottery draws.
"The reason why we are so successful is we have plant representatives at every site," Vincent told the audience.
She said some of the individual canvassers reached out to groups in their respective departments and in many cases they reached out to individuals. She said one of the most important factors in the fundraising success is that when employees made a donation, Vale would match the contribution dollar for dollar.
Vincent said another key to the success of the campaign came from educating Vale workers on the importance of United Way programs that improve the community by fighting poverty, programs to help children and youth, helping families in crisis, reducing violence and domestic abuse, helping seniors, the disabled and new Canadians and promoting volunteerism and community action.
Awards were presented to each canvasser for their participation. Awards were also presented to various departments for outstanding achievements.
For continuous dedication and support, special recognition was given to Clarabelle Mill and Central Tailings, Electrowinning, Divisional Shop, NAOC employees, Copper Cliff Mine - south side, the Smelter Complex and Transportation.
For increased participation and contributions, Generosity Awards were presented to the Power Department, Copper Cliff Mine - north side, Crfeighton Mine, Coleman Mine and the Construction and Field Services.
For the highest participation and contribution increase, the Participation Award was presented to Central Lab.
The Leadership Awards were presented to Totten Mine, Garson Mine, Matte Processing and the Nickel Refinery for outstanding support.
In the manager's challenge of surface plans versus mining operations, the winning site was Totten Mine.
Gord Gilpin, the head of Vale's Ontario operations, commented that along with thanking Vale employees, thanks should be expressed to the United Way for its contribution to Greater Sudbury.
"It's groups like you that make the community special. So thank you so much for everything you do. We're proud of you, and we're proud to work with you," said Gilpin.
Nick Larochelle, president of Local 6500, commented that it was a progressive move 40 years ago when the company and the union united to create the fundraising partnership. Larochelle thanked the company for the matching donations. He also thanked the individual canvassers for their hard work in making the campaign a success.
"And we're looking forward to another 40 years so thank you everyone for everything that you've done this year," he said.
Katherine Cockburn, the United Way development manager for North East Ontario, also commented on the success of the Vale campaign.
"Sudbury is an extremely generous community and when not-for-profits and charities need support, our community always answers that rally cry, you know, digging deep and doing more for our community. So this is a good total this year," she said.
United Way executive director Mary Lou Hussak expressed her gratitude to the leadership at both Vale and Local 6500 for the continued success of a partnership that began 40 years ago.
Hussak reminded the crowd that back then it was United Steelworkers and Inco that formed the partnership. She said there were different social issues in the community, but here, 40 years later, the community still has significant concerns.
“We've got some huge issues to tackle. and together we've been doing that. So thank you very much. We look forward to another 40 years of partnership and again, you know, with your help, we're able to do great things together. Thank you,” she said.
Len Gillis covers health care and mining for Sudbury.com.