Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the Manitoba Federation of Labour Executive Council submitted for the June 2016 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
CARE AND SOLIDARITY WITH FORT MCMURRAY
As elected representative for the Prairie Region, I want to express thanks to sisters and brothers who showed what unions are all about during the Fort McMurray wildfires. We were on the ground at Emergency Centres providing direct support for victims. Locals and components donated thousands of dollars in relief funds. I was particularly touched by our colouring book and crayon donation drive for child evacuees by our Edmonton members.
On May 11th, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services sorting centre with two PSAC sisters. The sheer volume of donated goods was as staggering as is the need. We spent hours sorting donations into boxes and getting them ready to ship to evacuee pickup locations. We know many members are volunteering their own time to assist and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all members and their families for doing what they can.
Provincial elections took place in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba in April with troubling results. Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party remains firmly in power, putting Crown Corporations at risk of privatization––despite a campaign promise that explicitly stated otherwise. In Manitoba, the 16-year NDP government was replaced by an ideologically motivated Progressive Conservative majority government under leader Brian Pallister, who has made openly homophobic and sexist remarks in the recent past. This places public infrastructure like education, health care and labour legislation at risk. We are prepared to mobilize with sisters and brothers across the prairies.
During the provincial election campaign, we worked closely with the Manitoba Federation of Labour, focusing on key policy areas identified by the MFL. We hosted a telephone town hall with our members in Manitoba with Kevin Rebeck and Lynne Fernandez of the CCPA as speakers. We also circulated a newsletter to each of our members in the province to provide them with information about the elections, encouraging them to get out and vote.
FIGHT FOR 15
PSAC members from the University of Winnipeg in coalition with the student’s union and the Manitoba Federation of Labour organized a rally and march down Portage Avenue on April 15th to recognize the International Day of Action in the fight for a living wage. Guest speakers included myself, the student union President, MFL President and community anti-poverty leaders. The event, which coincided with the Manitoba provincial election, drew over 200 people on a rainy day.
BANGLADESH SJF SOLIDARITY TOUR
On Feb. 1-12th, I had the privilege of being a PSAC rep on a solidarity tour to Dhaka, Bangladesh. The PSAC Social Justice Fund Coordinator, Brother Bob Kingston (National President, Agriculture Union) and myself along with representatives from USW, CUPE and UNIFOR were hosted by the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity. In addition to meeting with staff of BCWS and their community members, we had an opportunity to visit the sites of the Rana Plaza building collapse and the Tazreen factory fire.
We met with union leaders and most profoundly, we met with victims and family members of victims from Rana Plaza and Tazreen. The objective of the tour was to determine the level of progress on health and safety for factory workers so we also met with representatives at the International Labour Organization and the Accord. This was followed by a meeting with Bangladesh government officials responsible for health and safety of workers and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Assocation.
UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN (UNCSW60)
In March, I joined Sister Andree Cote, PSAC National Program Officer for Womens Issues and Sister Jeannie Baldwin at the UNCSW IN New York. CSW is an intergovernmental body of the UN dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Participating countries and civil society organizations (including a strong labour caucus from around the world) discuss successes and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The priority theme for 2016 was“Women’s empowerment and the link to sustainable development.” They also reviewed the theme from the previous year, which was “The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.”
Our first ever Waskawetohta (Taking Action) Conference for First Nation, Inuit and Métis activists was an immense success. We welcomed 25 prairie region members to the conference on April 22 and 23 to develop an action plan for Aboriginal issues in the prairie region between 2016 and 2018. The Winnipeg Human Rights Committee is working on setting up a Regional Aboriginal People’s Circle (RAPC) as a sub-committee. The Winnipeg HRC also celebrated Black History Month in February by showing the video “Simply The Best.”
BARGAINING UPDATES – MANITOBA
It is a very busy time for bargaining. We have been coordinating regional bargaining update meetings and conference calls for Treasury Board members across the prairies and actively promoting ratification votes for UTE/CRA members. After 4 years without a contract, members working for CRA are being asked by the bargaining team to reject the employers latest offer and authorize a strike vote. Results will be released June 23rd.
As a result of the Trudeau Liberal’s slow movement at the bargaining table, members have been mobilizing for the June 8 National Day of Action. Bargaining teams will be back at the table later in June and are hoping that the Liberal government provides a new mandate to their negotiators. Significant concessions tabled by the Conservative government are still part of the Liberal mandate. We have been also been actively promoting a continued boycott of National Public Service Week.
The University of Winnipeg Academic Capacity unit had its bargaining dates cancelled and postponed to the first week of May. The team and members are still actively campaigning for a living wage on campus and have collected over 500 signatures! The local played an active role in organizing and mobilizing for a demo on April 15, led by the Manitoba Federation of Labour, calling on an increase to the minimum wage to $15/hour. We hope this will result in a better mandate for the University’s bargaining team.
Bargaining started with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg and dates were set through the month of May. There are some serious problems regarding precarious work, lack of job security and scheduling issues.
Workers at the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development had their collective agreement expire on August 7, 2015. A call for input was issued on the week of April 7 and a notice to Bargain issued May 8. The bargaining team was elected; team meetings took place in July and September of 2015 and focus has since shifted to Aboriginal language preference and non-monetary issues. A bargaining update for members took place on April 6 and the next round of bargaining was scheduled for this May.
An input call has been issued and notice to bargain issued at Winnipeg International Airport Authority – General Unit- UCTE Local 50600.
A notice to bargain has been issued for the University of Winnipeg ELP. Bargaining dates are being scheduled to commence negotiations.
Bargaining is continuing for the Royal Canadian Mint – Winnipeg Protective Services Officers. This is a newly organized unit with 35 members who perform security services at the Winnipeg RCM facility. Proposals were exchanged with the employer and negotiations continued in April.
The Winnipeg Airport Authority CA expired June 30, 2015, for firefighters at the Winnipeg Airport Authority. Bargaining took place in April and is ongoing.
The Hudson Bay Port of Churchill (OmniTrax Canada) agreement expired March 31, 2016. Demands were exchanged on March 30 and 31, and dates were set for May 11 and 12. In December, 2015, media reports indicated that OmniTrax was being offered for sale. PSAC Prairies REVP and UCTE National President attempted to get information regarding the fate of the employees in the event of a sale. No response was received from two letters sent to the company CEO and both federal MPs and provincial MLAs were contacted.
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies