MFL Executive Council Report (June 2014)

Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the Manitoba Federation of Labour Executive Council submitted for the June 2014 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 Executive Council
June 2014

I extend my regrets for not being available for this MLF Executive Council meeting. We are currently holding membership town hall meetings throughout the region and our Alberta meetings are scheduled at the same time as the Executive Council meeting. If you have questions about anything in this report, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

PSAC is heading into what will most certainly be a difficult round of bargaining with Treasury Board. All Treasury Board bargaining teams will be in Ottawa from July 7-11, 2014 to finalize bargaining demands and meet with the employer. Tony Clement has already indicated his intent to dismantle our sick leave and benefits, and the Conservatives will stop at nothing to ensure their budget is balanced in 2015 on the backs of public service workers.

We say that unless this government wants to talk about improving what we already have, we aren’t interested. An honest comparison of public and private sector sick leave points to problems in the private sector. Many private sector workers aren’t paid when they’re sick so aren’t counted as “off sick.” Statistics Canada reports that once gender, age and unionization are taken into account, there is little difference between sick leave rates in the public and private sectors.

This attack on our sick leave is a threat to our hard-earned rights and benefits and will undoubtedly set the tone for future bargaining with those that are provincially and municipally legislated. In other words, we are all affected by concession bargaining. That’s why we’re calling on our members to boycott National Public Service Week for the third year. It’s important that we do not participate in events that claim to “honour” workers while simultaneously slashing jobs and forcing us into bargaining.

The PSAC has also taken the first step in its legal challenge against Bill C-4, the legislation that has gutted the collective bargaining rights of federal public service workers. On March 24, 2014 the union filed its constitutional challenge to Bill C-4 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. More updates will follow as the case progresses.

I am very proud to announce that the PSAC Prairie Region was awarded the Canadian Association of Labour Media (CALM) award for “Best narrative video, or video series documentary” for the Prairies Video Project. Never before have we collected and shared members’ stories in such an intimate and compelling way. I was lucky enough to be on location for the interviews across the Prairies and to speak with these members first hand. I’m delighted that everyone can share in the insights and experiences that these members shared with us, and that the project is receiving national recognition.

Over the past couple months we’ve added more videos to the series, with topics including National Day of Mourning and asbestos awareness, Pride and being “out” in the workplace, the Idle No More movement, member services such as grievances and duty to accommodate, the importance of sick leave and the value of unions. Please feel free to share any of these videos.

From March 21 – April 4 PSAC members participated in PSAC’s Social Justice Fund delegation to Guatemala. They supported the efforts of grassroots organizations to improve livelihoods of locals through initiatives based on social justice and fair trade.

Jen Botincan, a UNDE member from Winnipeg, was selected to participate in this opportunity. Participants worked together to build schools and community centres. Jen wrote a series of blog entries about the life changing experiences, which have been posted to the Prairies website.

The PSAC Prairie Region Council has approved funding to pay for at least one child of a PSAC member to attend the 2014 Solidarity Kids’ Camp of Manitoba, sponsored by the CLC. If no requests are received the money will be sent to the Solidarity Kids’ Camp of Manitoba as a donation.

The Prairies Regional Convention is just around the corner and plans are well under way. Convention will be held in Saskatoon June 27-29, 2014. We’re expecting nearly 300 delegates, as well as close to 50 more observers and guests.

For more information on anything mentioned in this report, please visit our website.

Respectfully submitted,

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