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An Interview with Richard Mahe, President of WAPSO Local 162

WAPSO Local 162 president, Richard Mahe, is in the middle of his first term and experiencing an interesting test in leadership. The current COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in place have meant a significant number of WAPSO members are working from home. Mahe, a city planner with the City of Winnipeg, is himself physical distancing at home. While initially challenging with city administration, he says its good to see a large portion of the members safe at home. He is greatly concerned about Local 162 members still on the frontline:

Our Inspectors and Supervisors with Winnipeg Transit are still greatly impacted. They are out there facing a weary and concerned public. We know Personal Protective Equipment challenges theyve faced as well. We want to make sure they have all the support and protection they need.

Mahe is proud of how the board leadership, staff, IFPTE, and the membership have risen to the occasion. He notes that the crisis has required increased communication above and beyond regular outreach. Hes heard first hand about the successes:

The members are happy with Local 162s approach with the employer. They know the local takes their issues seriously. Theyre seeing the tangible benefit of the union being that conduit.

Mahe sees the crisis as an opportunity for greater collaboration with members and with other unions. Local 162s greater participation in the labour movement is opening those channels. Given Local 162s position is supervisory roles, hes aware that what happens to other civic unions will eventually hit WAPSO. The concern is that the longer this occurs, the greater impact it will have on civic services. Despite those concerns, Mahe also notes on enormous change occurring:

We provide basic services to Winnipeggers every day. All service providers, whether they are public sector, healthcare, food and hospitality, were once taken for granted. The public is seeing the importance we all play in their lives.


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