Reflections on Life, Leadership, and Long Haul Trailers
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Reflections on Life, Leadership, and Long Haul Trailers

Dick Heinen bids farewell to CLAC

By Dick Heinen

Cleaning up is a hard thing to do. As I am getting ready to retire, I am going through 20 years of paperwork—filtering through what I once thought was important stuff that needed to be saved. So far, I have ended up with boxes of paper that has to be shredded and only some items that need to be archived.

I came across a model of a 53-foot trailer that I have had on my shelf for about 12 years. I’ve kept it there for all these years to remind myself of the fact that I have made some dumb decisions in my time. The story behind the trailer is good one that’s worth telling.

When I was CLAC’s Alberta provincial director, I was very concerned about promoting the CLAC brand, so we were doing a number of things to increase CLAC’s profile. One day, a fellow came into my office and told me that he was in contact with long distance truckers to use their trucks as advertising. He said he created long advertising panels that were fastened to the side of these trailers so that the advertising would reach people all over Alberta. He showed me some pictures and I thought, sure, it’s not too expensive, let’s try this.

Long story short, I found out later that there never was such a trailer on the road. I discovered that because after we had paid him, I asked him for a picture of the truck on the road. He then disappeared and I never heard from him again. I had been scammed.

I look at it now and reflect on some of the other dumb things I have done over the years. There were a number, so I won’t bore you with the details.

I kept the model as a reminder that sometimes you get scammed. Even the best of us do. And we need to stay alert and do as few dumb things as possible, while still moving forward.

The reality is that a moving vehicle bumps along somewhat. It hits ruts in the road, goes over speed bumps, and stops suddenly. The only way you can get a perfectly smooth feeling is when the vehicle isn’t moving.

If you want to move ahead, build something, and make a difference, you are going to hit snags and sometimes do dumb stuff. There’s a side of me that wants to say, “It’s OK,” but that’s not quite right. The lesson is that if you are going to be a leader who wants to make a difference, you have to be prepared for the fact that it isn’t always smooth sailing.

I’m at the end of my CLAC career, and April Fool’s Day will be the first day of my new career in retirement. I think CLAC has come a long way in the last decade in showing Canadians that there is a better way to do labour relations than the acrimonious style of the past. Every day more people get clued-in to the reality that a union which models true respect and dignity for both its members and its adversaries is a good thing for our society.

In spite of my mistakes, I’m proud of the work our team has done and I have been blessed to be part of it.

God bless you all in the future,

Dick Heinen


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