Deborah Wiens PRC Report (June 2014)

Report of the Alternate Regional Executive Vice-President to the Prairie Region Council submitted for the June 2014 meeting. This report covers the period from the last PRC meeting.

Deborah (Ferguson) Wiens
Alternate Regional Executive Vice-President (A/REVP)

Welcome to the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Prairie Region 6th Triennial Convention! What an amazing three years that it has been! During this term the Prairie Region was proud to welcome Sister Robyn Benson as our National President for PSAC! Due to Sister Robyn’s move, the Alternate REVP (Regional Executive Vice President) position became vacant in the Prairie Region. I was nominated, and successful in being elected. I have been honored to represent all of you. Thank you for your support, and the opportunity.

I was sworn into this position on October 12, 2012 at my first Prairie Region Council meeting in Regina, Saskatchewan. I have now been in this role for approximately 2 years, and I can honestly say – what an eye opening experience.

I could now tell you what I’ve done for the region in my role as Alternate REVP for the Prairies, and include things like I spoke at town halls, on the news, rally’s, attended every PSAC meeting I could, attended the day of action, I chaired the communications committee, I participated in the bylaw committees and chaired mock conventions…. and I could give you details surrounding that, but… I am going to take the opportunity to tell you my experience of the last two years, what I’ve learnt, and what barriers I’ve come up against. If anyone would like details, I’m always willing to share, please come and speak with me.

Anyone who knows me knows that you always know where you “stand” with me, sometimes even when you don’t want to know. I am opinionated, strong willed, stubborn, passionate and dedicated. I say this, because, I believe currently, our political environment is a mess. You will see by our slogan of this years convention – “Our Union: Bringing Us Together” is a direct reflection of the current political environment. We all know that the fight against the politics of our business is going to be long and hard. We know that with the current environment we will certainly be facing a challenge. We, the Prairie Region have an opportunity to start change now, and then well into 2015.  We need to stand together!

Where to start? We have Bill 377, and Bill C4. Both bills are a nightmare for our Union. Then of course we have bargaining happening with a government that isn’t exactly PRO anything for Public Service Employees. I would at this time like to say “thank you” to our bargaining teams for all the hard work they are doing for all of us! Now, this report was due mid May 2014. I know there are going to be other political agenda’s that come up from the time of this report until convention, and I am sure that we will do everything in our power to fight against them.

However, this brings me to my next point. All of us in this room are Union Activists. I know, since being in this role, I have chaired meetings, done town halls, and the messaging I’ve received back is “we need to make it easier”. I agree. I know that some believe we can’t hand everyone everything on a silver platter, and to an extent I agree with that, but when we are fighting huge amounts of apathy within our own union, we need to make it easier to be involved.

Since I have become the A/REVP for Prairie Region, the Prairie Region has had a turn over of many Prairie Region Council members. Now, I am certainly NOT saying that this is due to apathy…. It is my understanding, that some is sadly from work force adjustment, some from promotion, and others for personal reasons. However, we have many committees that are struggling within the Prairie Region, and while I can’t definitely say “why”, I have some ideas. I think we need to look at barriers on becoming involved.

Many speak about grass root members… and how they need to be informed.  I agree, but us as leaders need to be informed as well. How much do you know about Bill 377? Bill C4? Did you read the entire documents? Could you? Do you have enough time? I think that we, the Prairie Region, need to do a better job of making it easy. When new, important legislation is on the horizon – information needs to go out as soon as possible to all the Prairie Region Council members and then to the delegates here and locals across the region. If we make it a short document, with the quick and accurate facts, it’s easier to remember, and easier to distribute.

With the recent decision about desk drops – I think we have to try whatever possible to provide the information. I am sure some of you are thinking – but what about the financial cost?  My question is what is the ‘cost’ to us as a Union if we don’t? What is the value of getting one more person involved? Had it not been for my local president at the time, Lois Greenhalgh, taking the time to educate and speak with me I would not be involved. Have I made a difference? Has Lois? I would like to think so. The fact is though – many of us here have full time jobs, we all (or should be able to) have personal lives… we all give a lot to this union – which is fantastic, but… how do we make it easier? I think it starts with us here at convention. I believe everyone on the convention floor wants to help make change, and with the collective knowledge – I know we can do it!

Earlier, I said I’d talk about what I’d learnt – I’ve learnt that there are many facets to our Union that (I believe) many grass root members do not know about. I’ve learnt that we have many, many dedicated and passionate members who stand up for what they believe in. I’ve learnt that sometimes when standing for the way you believe is right, it can be a very hard, lonely, and an unpopular road to travel. I’ve recently learnt that (in my opinion) we have gaps in our Prairie Region By-laws. I personally believe that an emergency resolution should be submitted to amend this at this convention. Please feel free to discuss with me for further information.

What do I see as barriers? Grass root members see what we do as leaders. They see how much we do, and some determine that we give too much of ourselves for them to become involved. I see a barrier is that sometimes the value of what we need gets outweighed due to the financial cost. Barrier – politics get in the way of getting business done.

In conclusion – I hope that we as a convention floor make change happen, that we make wise decisions, and that every person at this convention leaves, renewed, educated, motivated and reassured!

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns or for information.

In Solidarity,

Deborah Wiens, Alternate Prairies REVP