REPORT OF THE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT, PRAIRIES
TO THE NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
October 27-30, 2015
This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.
Preparing for the federal election has been the main priority for Prairies members over the past few months, and especially since the writ dropped. It’s all hands on deck as we gear up to elect a new government on October 19.
We continue to offer various educational opportunities to members throughout the Prairie Region in preparation for the election and campaigning. These courses include: Setting the Stage for the Next Federal Election, Electing Our Future mini workshops, Political Action Skills for Activists, and a special Regional Women’s Committee election training initiative, in conjunction with this year’s Prairie School for Union Women.
Area Councils spearheaded candidates’ forums in five potential swing ridings in the Prairies. We sponsored, organized and moderated all of the forums, but they were open to the public and questions came from the floor. The events were well received by members and the public. In some cases they were the only forums planned for those ridings during the entire election campaign. In Prince Albert, Area Council and RAPC members held an event called “One Vote Counts”, where members discussed election issues. I was invited to attend to provide an update on PSAC’s election plans and answer questions from members.
Dozens of members organized mail-outs from each regional office to Prairies members in the area. The mail out included a newsletter with information about various activities and ways to get involved, as well as a letter addressed to members in specific ridings.
The newsletter was one way to promote the regional telephone town hall about the federal election, scheduled for October 7, and the webinar about writing a letter to the editor, to be held on October 1. This two-hour webinar will be remounted from a full-day course held in the NCR and facilitated by former Ottawa Citizen journalist Pauline Tam.
Members have also been busy participating in phone banks, calling members in certain ridings to discuss the election, important issues and ensure they vote. Feedback from members on these calls has been overwhelmingly positive and appreciative. It’s also been a great way to get members involved that haven’t been involved in the past.
We’ve also brought two members in as Elections Assistants to help Area Councils reach PSAC members, coordinate events and actions and provide communications support to our office. They’ve been an asset to our election preparations.
COMMITTEES IN ACTION
National Public Service Week is an annual opportunity to remind members and the public of the cuts to public services and the hypocrisy of the Conservative government. This year, members also used the opportunity to help launch PSAC’s Stop The Cuts campaign. The Calgary Area Council, RWC and HRC participated in the PSAC Family Day BBQ on June 14 to demonstrate our boycott of National Public Service Week and show appreciation for the membership. The Saskatoon Area Council promoted the boycott by joining other unions in the community on June 21 to celebrate the work of labour in Saskatoon instead of participating in employer events.
Pride events were held across the Prairies this summer. Members of the Saskatoon AC and Lethbridge AC participated in the Pride parades, as did members of the Winnipeg HRC and Edmonton HRC, marching in the parade and handing out hundreds of tattoos, flags, slap fans, and Pride-themed informational pamphlets.
For the first time, PSAC participated in Fiestaval Latin Festival at Calgary Olympic Plaza in July. The Calgary Area Council, RWC and HRC worked together to promote PSAC’s Stop The Cuts campaign and hand out information and other materials. Many people who visited the tent expressed discontent with the current government and were surprised by the extent of the cuts made to the public service.
Our Calgary committees continued to work together for PSAC’s annual participation in GlobalFest. This year PSAC co-sponsored the citizenship ceremony with PIPSC. We also sponsored a cultural healing panel on the theme of reconnecting with lost heritage. The panel included Sister Victoria Norris who is a member of HRC. Sister Deb Kosteniuk, Calgary RWC Chair, gave closing comments for this forum.
Members in Lethbridge were busy this summer, participating in the Young Chef Tomato Project with the Lethbridge Food Bank. The Area Council is getting members involved in activities in larger numbers than ever before and is making our union known in the community. In May, the Lethbridge RWC distributed #votechildcare2015 treat bags of candy pacifiers at the Lethbridge Research Centre and the local Canada Revenue Agency office. In June, the RWC supported the Area Council by participating on the PSAC team at the Lethbridge Rotary Dragon Boat Festival. The team placed third in the Community D Division, a great accomplishment for a team of members who have never paddled a dragon boat before. In August, the Area Council and RWC participated in the Lethbridge Whoop Up Days Parade, distributing Standing Together for Public Services lollipops and stickers and ladybug PSAC tattoos.
In Saskatoon, members participated in National Childcare Week by chalking up sidewalks in the downtown and at local parks to raise awareness of this important issue. Members volunteered at the Summer Snack Program one day a week and, together with the Area Council and UTE Local 40023, sponsored a PSAC pizza day for the program. Committee members have volunteered at the Saskatoon Food Bank Community garden throughout the summer with garden plots maintenance and care. This will yield large amounts of vegetables for the community throughout the summer. Committee members also supported the Aboriginal walkers who came into Saskatoon by providing them snacks and refreshments as they are walking across Canada to raise awareness against violence against women and the need for National inquiry for MMIW.
The Northern Saskatchewan Regional Aboriginal People’s Circle has been working closely with the Prince Albert Indian and Metis Friendship Centre on several community events, including a walk for missing women, National Aboriginal Day Round Dance and helping the aboriginal community register for the upcoming elections
The Edmonton RWC volunteered at the Vote Child Care 2015 Mother's Day Family Picnic. They also planted a community garden and donated hundreds of dollars of school supplies through a donation drive for an inner city school.
The Edmonton HRC hosted their first ever National Aboriginal Day celebration on June 20 at the Alberta Legislative Building. In August, the Edmonton Area Council hosted a Solidarity BBQ for approximately 400 members and distributed elections materials.
Area Council members in Regina, Saskatoon, Lethbridge, Winnipeg and Westman attended their respective Labour Day picnics and set up a PSAC booth, distributing fruit snacks, balloons and other materials to attendees. In Calgary, the Area Council took the lead with the annual Labour Day BBQ at Olympic Plaza––a co-operative effort with other unions and the District Labour Council.
This collective agreement for members employed by the Royal Canadian Mint expired December 31, 2013. Membership update meetings were held on May 2 in Winnipeg and May 23 in Ottawa. Our last round of negotiations was July 2015, but little progress was made. The next round is scheduled for October 26-30. Meanwhile, the next round for the Winnipeg Protective Services Officers at the Royal Canadian Mint is December.
The collective agreement for the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD) expired on August 7, 2015. A bargaining team has been elected and team meetings have been held. We expect to exchange in October.
Bargaining preparations are underway at the University of Winnipeg and University of Saskatchewan as these units seek a first collective agreement. Bargaining also continues for a first collective agreement with Churchill Marine Tank Farm.
This collective agreement with the Winnipeg Airport Authority expired June 30, 2015. Our bargaining team has been selected, and a membership meeting was held June 4. We plan to exchange proposals on November 27. Meanwhile, at the Edmonton Airport, the collective agreement for the FR & Captains unit expired December 31, 2014. We have already exchanged proposals and our next round is scheduled for November.
Finally, the collective agreement for members employed by Atco Structures and Logistics 15 Wing Moose Jaw expires December 31, 2015. The input call and notice to bargain have been issued.
The Prairie Region Health & Safety Conference will be held in Winnipeg, November 21-22. The overall focus will be the current challenges in dealing with employers, with particular attention to the roles of Workplace Health & Safety Committees, and the challenges faced by committee members.
We have scheduled our next Prairie Region Council meeting for November 26-29 in Edmonton, where we will discuss our plans going forward with the new political climate, post federal election. We will also begin discussing plans for the Prairie Region Triennial Convention, which has been scheduled for April 21-23, 2017. Due to an insufficient number of unionized hotel rooms in Alberta, Convention will be held in Winnipeg.
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies
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