Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the Manitoba Federation of Labour Executive Council submitted for the May 27-28, 2015 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
Alberta’s provincial election was an inspiring moment for all PSAC members. We were proud to see two PSAC members and one PSAC staff elected as NDP MLAs. The results give us renewed hope and determination heading into the federal election. If we can make change happen in a province with a 44-year Progressive Conservative stronghold, we can make change happen anywhere.
However, before we could really celebrate the victory, we were dealt a major blow at the bargaining table when the federal government tabled Bill C-59 authorizing Treasury Board to rip up collective agreements to remove sick leave and impose a short and long-term disability plan. This is no longer just about sick leave. This is about a government that is abusing their legislative authority to change our collective agreements outside of the bargaining process.
As a result, bargaining teams decided to postpone May’s round of negotiations in order to assess the implications of the government’s violation of our members’ rights, and evaluate all possible actions to defend them. We have since met with opposition leaders, and the 17 federal public service unions have filed a joint complaint with the international Labour Organization in response to bills C-4 and C-59. We have also agreed to plan coordinated actions to mobilize federal public service employees.
PSAC members have said this must be our top priority. This was reaffirmed at PSAC’s National Triennial Convention in April, when delegates unanimously passed an emergency resolution to launch a strategic campaign to stand up for our rights and protect public services. We will continue to fight back against the attacks on our rights.
On March 19, PSAC members participated in actions and stood together for healthy workplaces. Hundreds of union members attended a lunch hour rally in Winnipeg in front of Union Station. PSAC National President Robyn Benson was in town for the rally and took the opportunity to sound off on this government and our fight for sick leave. Thank you to all of the union members who showed their support for PSAC members, and a special thank you to our guest speakers Kevin Rebeck and Brent Maine.
As part of our award-winning Prairies Video Project, we interviewed several PSAC members in Lethbridge who are currently undergoing cancer treatments. They described their experiences and how vital their sick leave was to both their recovery and their financial security. That video is now available on the PSAC Prairies website.
PSAC has also release several new videos nationally, including an animated video that highlights some of our victories and a new child care video with families sharing their stories. On June 3, PSAC will release a new set of videos, in which veterans describe how the loss of in-person services has exacerbated PTSD and other service-related health challenges. Watch the videos at psacunion.ca.
Providing support to those less fortunate continues to be a priority for PSAC members in the Prairie Region. In March, the Winnipeg Human Rights Committee volunteered at Siloam Mission, an organization that provides meals, clothing and services to Winnipeg’s homeless community. After a tour of the facilities, they spent time helping out and assisting with sorting clothes, among other tasks.
The Winnipeg Area Council launched a new partnership with Ndinawe, an integrated service organization for youth, focusing on shelter, education, outreach and support. With funding from PSAC’s Social Justice Fund, the Area Council was able to purchase small appliances and equipment for use in their kitchen, as well as food to start a meal program. Next, Area Council members will work with Ndinawe to start a container gardening program to produce vegetables to use in the kitchen.
I am happy to announce that more than 1,100 academic workers at the University of Saskatchewan have joined the PSAC. The bargaining unit was certified by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board on April 23, 2015 and comprises all registered graduate students employed by the U of S, including teaching assistants, teaching fellows, student assistants and research assistants. The new unit will join 22,000 PSAC members in 51 other bargaining units at 24 different Canadian universities, including the University of Winnipeg and Brandon University.
Negotiations continue with the University of Winnipeg and Avion Services Corporation, which include the security guards at the Winnipeg Airport, as well as the Royal Canadian Mint and the Winnipeg Protective Services Officers at the Mint. After we filed an unfair labour practice several months ago, Churchill Marine Tank Farm Company has agreed to resume negotiations. If an agreement is not reached, we will proceed with the ULP as scheduled. Notice to bargain has been served to the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD) and Winnipeg Airport Authority. Both collective agreements expire this summer.
For more information on anything mentioned in this report, visit prairies.psac.com.
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies