Dragana Ristivojevic Reports
I spent numerous hours in reconnecting and holding conversations with my coworkers as to why the loss of interest with their Union and what issues they felt were important to them for example: bargaining, phoenix and the two elections (the Alberta provincial and the federal), etc.
It was my honor to present Sister Elaine Gariepy who was the winner of the Prairie Member Contest with her travel voucher.
Lunch hour rallies were held outside of Canada Place in showing our support for the bargaining team. Cookies helped entice UTE members to come out.
On May 17, 2019, Justine Trudeau was expected to arrive at the Shaw Conference Centre. It was Friday, many of our UTE members are on CDO’s, we all decided that we still should go out and show Justine Trudeau that we were not happy. We grabbed “We Support Our Bargaining Team” signs and went outside. There was a very large group of supporters for the Alberta oil and gas. They were loud. This rally was turning out to be very successful. Both Sisters Anne Juneau and Carm Chan brought with them flags, “Burn’t by Phoenix shirts” and more “We support our Bargaining Team”.
An Edmonton UTE committee is being created where planning and implementing future rallies will be discussed. More rallies are needed. This committee will focus on engaging more members to participate in Union activities. I submitted my name to be part of this committee as I love being at these rallies and I feel the need to increase the number of rallies, talking to MP’s, etc. With these planned events, the members will see that the Union is there for them.
I have attended and participated in many rallies throughout Edmonton. It was very important to me that I connect and build strong relationships with other Unions. Strategies were discussed on what worked for them and what did not.
I continue having conversations with our members on the importance of the Union. Promoted the Union courses offered at the Edmonton PSAC Regional Office with our members.
The posting of the posters promoting the Strike Training held at the PSAC Edmonton Regional office on our Union boards promoted a lot of conversations around “Strike”. Members were talking and asking questions. This gave me an opportunity to encourage our members to attend the Strike Training held at the Edmonton PSAC Regional Office. I took the training and I found it to be very informative and encouraged our members to attend that training.
Also, discussed with members of future Lunch and Learn – Strike Preparation sessions.
On February 19, 2020, a 4th Anniversary Phoenix Solidarity event will be held outside Canada Place at Noon which I will be volunteering and promoting the importance on why the members should attend. Members were encouraged to wear black that day to show the ongoing issues with Phoenix.
Since the COVID pandemic was announced, we have continuously been hearing “this is the new normal”. What is “the new normal”? The question we should be asking ourselves is what will our new normal be like? I myself have questioned how do we incorporate activism in “this new normal” when we are required to self-isolate and maintain social distancing. The fear of COVID-19 is a real deterrent from a large group of people coming out to mass rallies and is currently illegal. Issues are still not going away. All we have to do is read the newspaper, watch television or any social media. In the past, we heard the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” and in today’s time we have modern technology. If we cannot physically meet, we need to compensate with mass communications such as continuing with video chat, webinars or something similar to maintain communication with our members. I miss the days where we capture the attention and show solidarity at rallies which were loud, holding our signs and waving our Union flags showing our discontent with government policies or with bargaining issues, etc.
As I am required to self-isolate, I am addressing the issues plaguing my own neighborhood and surrounding communities. The municipal elections will be held next Fall of 2021. Currently, homeless people were shoved into the Convention Center and many have caught the COVID. Homelessness has always plagued my neighborhood and surrounding communities which has constantly been ignored. I believe in “All Lives Matter”. Not only this but people are losing their jobs and homes which are adding to the existing problems. It sickens me to see individuals in search of food in garbage dumpsters. The increase in violence against women and children are rising; where once they could seek shelter from their abusers being at work or at school. We also need to be seen as supporting our medical personnel. They are all vital to each and everyone of us.
Even with 100 percent compliance and availability a vaccine program which is estimated to take over a year to fully implement. I encourage all of us whether we are unionized and/or non-unionized to think about an issue that pulls at their heartstrings and help with the fight. We are all activists at heart.
Sister Dragana Ristivojevich
PRC Edmonton Area Council Rep