MFL Executive Council Report (June 2012)

Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the Manitoba Federation of Labour Executive Council submitted for the June 19-20, 2012 meeting. This report covers the period from the last MFL meeting.

Marianne Hladun, Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairie Region
Report to the Manitoba Federation of Labour, June 2012

Last month in Ottawa, delegates at the PSAC 16th National Triennial Convention debated and voted on many resolutions that will mean big changes for our union, including the creation of Regional Young Workers’ Committees, an initiative that started right here in the Prairies.

Delegates also held elections for national leadership, the results of which will mean even bigger changes for our region. Sister Robyn Benson was elected PSAC National President and has since moved to Ottawa. As her elected alternate, I will be taking her place as Regional Executive Vice-President for the PSAC Prairie Region.

I have been heavily involved with the labour movement in Saskatchewan including being a member of the SFL Executive Council and various committees for the past ten years. I am also just concluding six years as a Labour Representative on the United Way of Saskatoon and Area’s Board of Directors on behalf of the Saskatoon & District Labour Council.

I look forward to developing strong ties with the MFL and to reinforcing PSAC’s commitment to and involvement in the broader labour movement. I am also excited and ready to take on this responsibility, including the challenge we are faced with given the current political climate.

Our region has been hit hard by Harper’s austerity budget. We must continue to fight back against the Harper agenda that is intent on decimating federal public services that Canadians rely on. We must also continue to fight back against provincial and municipal governments who govern as a mirror to their federal counterparts.

This fight has already begun in communities across the Prairies with Canadians speaking out on behalf of our members and against cuts to important public services. In Manitoba, for example, one member’s wife wrote a moving letter to the local newspaper about how the impacts of the decision to completely shut down the Agri-Environment Services Branch (formerly Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration – PFRA) are far reaching and affect not only her husband’s job, but also the entire family’s way of life. The letter is on the PSAC Prairie Region website.

PSAC’s latest campaign, “We Are All Affected,” will build on the momentum of these community actions. All Canadians are affected because we all rely on services like food inspection, Old Age Security, promoting First Nations and Inuit health, environmental protection, preservation of parks and historic sites, search and rescue, assistance to veterans, support for our troops, border security and transportation safety. What’s more, public service workers are our families, friends, neighbours, and customers and this campaign will shed light on the faces behind these cuts and how they hurt our communities and our economy. As part of this campaign we are asking Canadians to send Stephen Harper his “affected” letter and put him on notice for his reckless cuts to public services. Visit to send a letter of your own and encourage your co-workers, your family, your neighbors and people in your community to participate, too.

Additionally, PSAC rejected National Public Service Week, June 10-16, and the employer’s hypocritical approach to celebrating public service workers while cutting more than 19,000 federal government positions across the country and, in many cases, closing entire programs.

The Treasury Board website calls the women and men of the Public Service of Canada “some of our most precious resources,” yet they are sending affected notices by the thousands. Their misguided effort to reduce the deficit at the expense of our members and, in many cases, the expense of the most vulnerable in our communities, is nothing to celebrate. Instead, locals and committees organized alternate member appreciation events across the country in an effort to recognize the important work our members do and to call the employer on their hypocrisy.

Finally, we are proud to welcome research assistants, senior research assistants and research associates employed at the University of Winnipeg after the Manitoba Labour Board certified PSAC as their bargaining agent on May 31, 2012. The new bargaining unit of nearly 200 employees will be part of the existing PSAC Directly Chartered Local 55600 at the University of Winnipeg. This Local already comprises about 400 teaching assistants, lab demonstrators, markers and tutors, as well as 30 English language program instructors. Earlier this year, we also organized four members who work in fuel distribution at the Churchill Marine Tank Farm, a subdivision of OmniTRAX. They were certified under provincial legislation on February 23, 2012.

Respectfully submitted,

Marianne Hladun,
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies