Special to the GTA Construction Report
A training building adjacent to the head office of Local 793 of the International Union of Operating Engineers in Oakville has been officially named the Gary O’Neill Learning Centre.
More than 150 people gathered at the site Dec. 7 to unveil the new name and honour O’Neill’s accomplishments.
O’Neill died in September 2011. He had been president of the local for 13 years.
A number of dignitaries attended the event, including Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn, Oakville mayor Rob Burton, labour minister Linda Jeffrey, and Pat Dillon, business manager of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario.
Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher told the audience that the union’s training trustees unanimously decided to re-name the centre to mark O’Neill’s accomplishments during his 30-year career as a member of Local 793.The idea was supported by the Local 793 executive board and extremely well received by members, he said. “This is what we needed to do to recognize his accomplishments.”
Gallagher said it is fitting to have O’Neill’s name on the building because he was such an integral part of the union and the labour movement in Ontario.
He described the late president as a leader, a perfectionist, and “a standout” from the very beginning. “He was always on the go and he wanted to get things done.”
Gallagher said O’Neill would have been proud to have his name on a building where apprentices are trained. He noted that O’Neill became a leader in everything he was involved in, and chaired the Working Families Coalition. As chair of that organization, Gallagher said O’Neill helped lead it to success and ensured a progressive government was in power.
Gallagher noted that O’Neill also chaired the board of directors of De Novo Treatment Centre, and was always ready to lend a helping hand to those in trouble.
In negotiations, meanwhile, Gallagher said O’Neill always had the ability to find a compromise.
Dillon of the provincial building trades told the audience that O’Neill was a colleague and a friend. He was very committed to the union movement and realized that the safety of workers was paramount, he said.
Dillon noted that O’Neill was chosen for the helm of Working Families because he was a leader. He said the union couldn’t have chosen a better way to honour O’Neill’s memory than by naming the training centre after him.
MPP Flynn said he often had dealings with O’Neill and always felt like he was talking to a friend. Flynn said that through his work O’Neill made life better for everybody in Ontario.