Barbara Byers is the Canadian Labour Congress’ Secretary-Treasurer, bringing a wealth of experience to the job as a labour leader committed to inclusiveness and as a "Prairie Populist".
Barb has fought for the underdog all her life: first as a social worker, then as President of the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU) and as Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President (SFL).
Barb’s commitment and energetic work led to her being elected as a CLC Executive Vice-President in 2002 and now as Secretary-Treasurer in May 2014. Last December she was named a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of her "contributions as an important voice in the Canadian labour movement."
As a social worker in Saskatchewan, Barb addressed issues of poverty, youth unemployment, aboriginal concerns, equality for all and labour rights.
That political activism brought her to the leadership of the SGEU in the face of strong challenges from the anti-labour Conservative government of Grant Devine and four turbulent years opposing privatization, the weakening of labour laws for both unionized and non-unionized workers, reductions in social services and attacks on the public sector.
Next Barb became President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, working to overwhelmingly defeat the scandal-ridden Saskatchewan government and fight for a better province for over 14 years.
Barb has been responsible for labour education; medicare and health care; workplace training and technology; employment insurance; apprenticeships; and issues of concern to women workers, workers with disabilities and gay, bi-sexual, lesbian and transgender workers.
For twelve years, Barb also played a key role representing Canada as one of 14 worker delegates on the Governing Body of the International Labour Organization, the United Nations agency bringing together governments, employers and workers in common action to promote decent work throughout the world.
Barb’s strong community roots led her to become founder of the SFL Summer Camp for Youth in Saskatchewan and co-founder of the Prairie School for Union Women.