MFL Executive Council Report (Sept. 2012)

 

Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the Manitoba Federation of Labour Executive Council submitted for the September 27-28, 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, September 2012

It’s been a busy summer with events happening throughout the Prairie Region to highlight PSAC’s “We Are All Affected” campaign. Our September 15, National Day of Action was meant to show that we are ALL affected, in our communities, workplaces and families, by the cuts to federal services and jobs imposed by the Harper government.  Community members and organizations attended these events and voiced their concerns about the ongoing cuts, their support for PSAC members, and their offer to help us in our fight.  I want to thank the Sisters and Brothers who attended our Winnipeg event at Memorial Park and stood together with us in solidarity.

Earlier this summer, Treasury Board President Tony Clement made an appearance in Brandon where several PSAC members handed him and Merv Tweed, Conservative MP for Brandon-Souris, their “Affected” letters.  Members also discussed their concerns regarding EI services leaving Manitoba and the issue of closing the Community Pastures Program in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

We also have a parallel ongoing campaign titled “Stephen Harper Hates Me.” The relentless attacks on vital public services have upset Canadians, including our members, and prompted “Stephen Harper Hates Me” buttons, a member-initiated action. The buttons echo the frustration and anger our members and the public feels toward the policies implemented by this government.

This campaign has spread like wildfire across the country and prompted buttons, stickers, t-shirts and even a banner, which was flown across Quebec and above Parliament Hill in Ottawa before being ordered to land by the RCMP. As you can imagine, our members and the public were outraged by this blatant disregard for freedom of speech, but it didn’t hamper our efforts. We will continue to wear our buttons proudly and send a message that Stephen Harper is unconcerned with the well being of Canadians.

From one anti-worker government to another, the Saskatchewan Party is in the middle of a comprehensive review of the current provincial labour legislation in Saskatchewan. PSAC, along with the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and other unions throughout Saskatchewan, considers this “consultation” process to be constitutionally deficient because it does not comply with the decision of Justice Ball and does not constitute meaningful consultation. We believe that the entire process fails to comply with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We submitted a position paper of our own outlining our thoughts on the legislation and the improvements that could be made.

I raise this because if the reports are true, we can expect a new political party on the ballot for the 2015 Manitoba provincial election. The Manitoba Party is said to be modeled after the Saskatchewan Party. Coming from Saskatchewan, I’ve seen the damage Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party have done to labour rights in that province. The scariest part is that he continues to get re-elected and remains one of the most popular Premier’s in the country. If the Manitoba Party is following in his footsteps, we must be ready to mobilize our members to take them on full force so they don’t succeed in Manitoba.

In case you missed it in the Winnipeg Free Press, my letter to the editor lambasting the one-sided opinion piece by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Prairie Director Colin Craig was published on Sept. 7, 2012. Mr. Craig reasoned that the best way to align the private sector’s benefits with the collectively bargained and hard-fought for benefits that public service employees receive was to stop adding new employees to defined-benefit pension plans and, instead, choose defined-contribution plans; bring wages down to levels that people outside of government receive for doing similar work; and scale back sick leave benefits to the average provided in the private sector. Needless to say, I took him to task in my response.

Earlier this month, I was happy to attend the EI forum organized by Sister Kelly Moist and CUPE Manitoba. PSAC member Susan Norman spoke to the cuts to EI and how that is affecting services that Canadians depend on. I enjoyed the event and look forward to more opportunities like this to gather as a community and discuss our concerns.  The federal government is determined to not only decimate the federal public service but to also break the labour movement by introducing various government and private member bills to erode workers’ rights such as proposing to eliminate the RAND Formula.  We welcome any opportunity to work together with MFL affiliates to push back on such attacks and tell all levels of government to back off.

Finally, we are proud to welcome employees of the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD) to the PSAC. Following a challenging organizing drive, an application was filed on June 14, 2012, with considerable support from CAHRD employees. More than half of the employees had signed a PSAC membership card and 65 per cent agreed to union representation in a vote on June 25, 2012. The Manitoba Labour Board certified the unit on September 14, 2012. The nearly 100 workers, ranging from employment counselors to childcare workers and teachers, join the nearly 20 other First Nations employers and bargaining units represented by PSAC.

Respectfully submitted,

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