Young Workers Rep
Prairie Region Council November 2018
Since my last report dated December 24 2017, I’ve obtained support to create Young Workers Committees (YWC) in Calgary AB and Regina SK, as well as having established the Winnipeg and Edmonton YWCs.
The inaugural Winnipeg YWC meeting was January 18 2018. Members from southern Saskatchewan were encouraged to attend to hear what a YWC in their area could do for them. Attendance was split 50/50 between members from Winnipeg and Regina. At the second Winnipeg YWC meeting, an executive was formed consisting of Co-Chairs Leandra Williams and Alex Samuel, and Treasurer Rita Gordon. We were unable to fill the seat of Secretary so for the interim I have been fulfilling that role.
The Winnipeg YWC has actively started and has identified the following as their priorities for this year:
- Develop a one page insert for the new member kits geared towards young workers
- Recruitment (determining who the young workers are in our region and encouraging them to join the YWC)
- Family BBQ for all PSAC members
- National Childcare Strategy campaign
The YWC held a Family BBQ on May 26. All PSAC members, regardless of age, and their families were invited to attend. The BBQ featured a bouncy castle, Smoke N Bob’s hot dog stand (hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers, drinks and chips), piñata, cotton candy machine, popcorn machine, and a draw for a $50 gift card for any PSAC member who self-identified as a young worker.
A priority identified at the Prairie Regional Council meeting in February 2018 was membership engagement that was person to person and fun for the whole family
Unfortunately, the YWC did not feel like it received broad support from the PRC, as only 25-30 people attended the BBQ (that was not member numbers but overall attendance). This was a frustrating moment for the YWC but we discussed what went well and where we can improve our communication strategy for the next event.
In June the Winnipeg YWC had scheduled a presentation on the topic of how to engage millennials in the workplace but it was decided to push this back until the fall due to the presenter’s schedule and the uncertainty of when the PSAC Winnipeg boardroom was being renovated.
The YWC was planning a National Childcare Strategy rally for early September but due to a lack of resources available within the YWC this has been postponed. It is likely something we will plan to hold in the spring once the weather warms up again. In the meantime, the YWC is examining how else we could use the funds set outside for the rally. Topics have included 1) advertising/donation towards the Winnipeg Folk Festival colouring book as a way of engaging not just PSAC young workers but also young workers who may not be unionized and 2) funding delegates to the 2018 GenNext Summit.
Since the formation of the Winnipeg YWC, I’ve been approached by various young workers in Manitoba requesting that I use my position to promote petitions affecting young workers. I have advised the young workers that this is something I am willing to do as long as they can provide me with the communication strategy for social media and email. This has included social media posts and sample letters members can send to their elected officials. As a result the young workers in the Winnipeg area have been able to promote a handful of issues and raise awareness with elected officials in the area. For more information, please see my activities below.
The inaugural Edmonton YWC meeting was January 16 2018. An executive was elected at the second YWC meeting held February 13 2018. It consists of President Adrian Nelson, Vice President Sabino Spagnuolo, Treasurer Tamara King, and Secretary Dennis Holmwood.
The first priority for the YWC was acting as the host committee for the 2018 Prairies Young Workers Conference. The YWC organized a social event during the conference, welcomed young workers who were attending, and assembled a welcome package for the members.
The YWC has been hard at work establishing their Terms of Reference, planning a social event to recruit young workers, and establishing a survey geared towards young workers in the area about what the issues facing them and how we can best engage with them.
The first Calgary YWC was held April 25 2018. The meeting followed a similar format to all the inaugural YWC meetings: an overview of the PSAC YWC including the history, direction, budget, and determining the organizational structure. A discussion ensued about the priorities and issues facing young workers in southern Alberta. Items raised were:
- Precarious work
- Fair wages
- Benefits such as childcare
- Training (making it more engaging, lack of funding, etc)
A lively roundtable took place with some young workers wanting more details about time commitments if they were involved with the YWC and when meetings would take place. The YWC agreed to meet again with the hopes of recruiting more attendees so that elections could take place.
The second Calgary YWC meeting was on May 29 2018. There were only two attendees so elections could not occur. Ideas were discussed about how we could better our recruitment efforts in the area.
We attempted to hold a YWC meeting on April 19 and again on May 15 2018. Despite recruiting young workers during the PSAC Prairies Young Workers Conference in early April, no one other than myself and the Second Alternate Young Workers Rep, Glenn Hollyoake, attended. Our communication and engagement strategy for the region is now under review.
In addition to establishing the YWCs in the Prairies region, I’ve been meeting with my national counterparts both formally on the monthly working group call and informally.
I attended the National Bargaining Conference and was able to network with several of my national counterparts and many other young workers. Amongst the young worker delegates, many who were first time attendees, there were serious concerns raised about how delegates are elected to the bargaining teams, especially the PA group. None of us were so naive as to think there wouldn’t be politicking involved. Of course there would be politicking! That’s what makes for a good election. We assumed, wrongly, that it would be done on the floor and during our opportunities to network. What we didn’t expect was for the election to be mostly decided upon in advance.
Some of the issues (and solutions) identified by the young workers I spoke with were:
- Having component leaders decide who will run and who won’t in advance is a gross misuse of power. Young workers and other first time delegates were told flat out by some component leaders that they were not allowed to run. This is how anti-union sentiment begins. In our union, we are stronger if we work together. Yes, some components elect their delegates in advance, at their component convention. That is to be commended if that is how their membership wishes to proceed. However, no member should be told they can’t run. Elections are a platform for PSAC members to share their ideas, and views on what constitutes good leadership. The bargaining team that is elected may even learn from a prospective candidate’s speech. New faces bring new ideas. If all the candidates are chosen in advance, there’s no guaranteeing that the same ideas will be brought forward time and time again.
- It’s clear PSAC needs to review how the bargaining team is determined. Something more fair, open, and gives value to the members. If the election of the bargaining team is going to be decided upon in advance, why are we wasting large sums of money on a conference? We cannot in good faith look our members in the eyes and tell them the bargaining conference was a necessary expensein its current form.
- It’s understandable that smaller components want to ensure they have input on the bargaining team, and that larger components want to ensure their membership is also accurately represented. Instead of rigging an election, why not scrap the 5 members at large and instead use them as an equity type seat… ie each component could have a certain number of seats based on their size. If this isn’t obtained through the regional seats, the 5 member at large seats could be used to balance it out.
- Ultimately, the way we run the election now, with the players being pre-determined and moved around according to the whims of our component leaders is the type of shady businesses we accuse the employer of. Our members expect more from the union. We demand transparency and fairness. Elections should be about ensuring our members are well represented and if the component leaders decide who in advance is going to succeed in each position, to us that does not show that the best candidate to represent our members has been chosen. It only tells us that the components selected who they think will best represent their component’s interests and who they think is worth investing in.
March 29 2018, at the National Bargaining Conference, I had the pleasure to launch PSAC’s Loblaws campaign. This campaign originated with the PSAC National Young Workers Working Group. It took a terrible situation (the bread price-fixing by companies such as Loblaws) and turned it into a positive. PSAC members, regardless of age, were encouraged to apply for the $25 gift card Loblaws was offering and to donate it to their regional food bank. The campaign was the first that I know of, to be launched by the National Young Workers Working Group. The campaign saw mixed success throughout the regions. We have notated what worked well, what did not, and where a campaign of this nature could be improved upon in the future.
In early April, I chaired the PSAC Prairies Young Workers Conference. The theme was Young Workers Progressing Labour. Our keynote speaker was Pablo Godoy, a young worker with UFCW. He spoke about his union and how they have engaged young workers, the importance of uniting young workers across countries, and how unions should be proactive in advocating for their members before automation and other major workplace adjustments occur. The next day we heard from four young workers from across Alberta [Chevi Rabbit (LGBTQ community), Thomas Dang (Alberta MLA), Joel French (Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta), Jagrit Bajwa (United Nations Youth Assembly)] about their experiences and what they see as the issues facing young workers today. Attendees subsequently had a chance to speak in small groups with each presenter on selected topics. Over the lunch hour a presentation was provided by three PSAC young workers who had attended PSAC’s Social Justice Fund’s Education in Action delegation to Guatemala. The afternoon and next morning the attendees held strategy sessions to determine how best to tackle the most pressing issue facing young workers in their region. Some of the groups got really creative! Check out the PSAC Prairies Young Workers Rep Instagram or Facebook page to see a radio ad that one group developed!
Currently the PSAC Young Workers Working Group is working with PSAC staff and Jamey Mills, AEC member with the Young Workers portfolio, to develop a PSAC Young Workers Summit.
Finally, within my component, CEIU, I am the Co-Chair of the CEIU National YWC. We have identified issues facing young workers in our components and each of the reps have agreed to work together, where possible, with the PSAC National Young Worker Reps, to reduce the barriers facing young workers. My young worker roles in both the component and with PSAC have placed me in a unique position to share my knowledge and experience across the two. I provided an update to the CEIU National YWC regarding the work of the National PSAC young worker reps and vice versa. CEIU National YWC recently conducted a survey requesting young workers self-identify, what barriers they face in the workplace and in their union, how best to contact them, and what social media platforms, if any, they use. Once this information has been analyzed we have agreed to share our findings with PSAC. In my activities below, I’ve provided the meeting dates where I’ve given an update on the activities of the PSAC National Young Workers Working Group and PSAC Prairies YWCs.
I am also PSAC’s young worker rep to the CLC. The report I wrote for that can be accessed via National.
On an ongoing basis I have been working on modernizing how the PSAC Prairies Young Workers Rep operates. This has included creating and maintaining social media presence on Instagram and Facebook, creating and maintaining an email distribution list of young workers (originally on Outlook but am now moving towards MailChimp), as well as creating and maintaining a Google Drive account for my position and each of the YWCs (to ensure that the knowledge gained is not lost when a new Rep is elected).
- January 10 2018: PSAC Prairies Young Workers Conference Steering Committee Call
- January 15 2018: Canadian Labour Congress Young Workers Group in person meeting
- January 16 2018: Edmonton YWC meeting
- January 17 2018: PSAC Prairies Young Workers Conference call with PSAC staff
- January 18 2018: Winnipeg YWC meeting
- January 20 & 21 2018: CEIU National YWC in person meeting in Ottawa (update given)
- January 23 2018: PSAC Prairies Young Workers Conference Steering Committee Call
- January 30 2018: PSAC National Young Workers Rep Call
- February 1 2018: Attended AGM for CEIU Local 50772 to provide an update on PSAC Prairies YWC
- February 9 – 11 2018: Prairie Regional Council in person meeting
- February 12 2018: Winnipeg YWC meeting
- February 13 2018: Edmonton YWC meeting
- February 27 2018: PSAC National Young Workers Rep Call
- February 28 2018: Attended Phoenix National Day of Action in Winnipeg
- March 3 2018: Winnipeg YWC Executive Meeting
- March 5 2018: Attended AGM for CEIU Local 50770 to provide an update on PSAC Prairies YWC
- March 8 2018: I provided my support to Breaking the Silence (PSAC’s Social Justice Fund’s partner in Guatemala) in calling upon Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland to urge the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor through diplomatic channels to investigate and prosecute all those responsible in an effective and timely manner for the killing of 41 girls at a state run facility in March 2017.
- March 12 2018: I provided feedback regarding young workers on the Youth Policy for Canada website.
- March 12 2018: Winnipeg YWC meeting
- March 26 – 29 2018: PSAC National Bargaining Conference in Ottawa, including the Young Workers Caucus on March 27
- March 29 2018: Launched the PSAC Young Workers Loblaws gift card campaign
- March 31 2018: Winnipeg YWC Executive meeting
- April 5 2018: Provided an update on PSAC Prairies YWC to CEIU Manitoba Saskatchewan Region YWC
- April 9 2018: Winnipeg YWC meeting
- April 12 – 15 2018: PSAC Prairies Young Workers Conference in Edmonton
- April 17 2018: Provided PSAC Prairies and National young worker update to CEIU National YWC
- April 18 2018: Emailed my MLA, Wab Kinew, requesting that he object to Bills 8 & 19 (allowing public notices to only be published online and in the Manitoba Gazette). Young workers understand the power of social media and the internet and how it can be used to suppress important democratic information. It was important to the young workers in the Winnipeg area that we voice our concerns that while the internet can be a useful platform to share public notices, it should not be the only place as this can result in important information not being shared with those that it affects.
- April 19 2018: emailed my MP, Jim Carr, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, about Human rights abuses in South America by Canadian businesses
- April 19 2018: Regina YWC meeting (no one showed)
- April 24 2018: PSAC National Young Workers Rep Call
- April 25 2018: Calgary YWC meeting
- April 27 2018: Emailed my MLA, Wab Kinew, requesting he object to Bills 28 & 29 (wage freeze & collective bargaining limitations for PSAC Manitoba public sector)
- May 9 2018: Prairies Regional Council Call
- May 14 2018: Winnipeg YWC meeting
- May 15 2018: Regina YWC meeting (no one showed)
- May 26 2018: Winnipeg YWC Family BBQ
- May 29 2018: Calgary YWC meeting
- September 11 2018: PSAC National Young Workers Rep Call
- September 18 2018: Calgary YWC meeting (no one showed)
March 19 2018: Edmonton YWC
May 29 2018: PSAC National Young Workers Rep Call but emailed an update on the Prairies activities
June 26 2018: PSAC National Young Workers Rep Call
July 12 2018: CLC Young Workers Group Call
October 4 2018: Winnipeg YWC
October 23 2018: Edmonton YWC