NBoD Report (Feb. 1-4, 2011)


Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the National Board of Directors, submitted for the February 1-4, 2011 meeting. This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.


February 1-4, 2011 This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.

Regional Review

October and November were especially busy months with the ratification vote meetings. I traveled across the Prairies to attend as many of the meetings as possible, speaking at approximately 100 of the more than 200 meetings held across the region. I was fortunate to have an incredible team of bargaining unit members. Special thanks go to Sister Michele Coe (PA), Brother Blair Winger (SV) and Brother Steve Van Opstal (SV) for their tireless efforts. Thanks also to Brother John Gordon and Sister Patty Ducharme for travelling to the Prairies to speak at several meetings. Our members very much appreciated the opportunity to hear from the National President and National Executive Vice-President.

We are very excited to be actively organizing in the Prairies again, with one successful campaign completed and more in the works. After a three-month campaign to secure workers’ rights, we are happy to welcome new members at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. We have been granted certification to represent all non-managerial museum employees. Next steps for the Local include choosing an executive, setting up bylaws and bargaining their first collective agreement.

In November, we held the first Young Workers in Action course in Edmonton with 20 course participants from across the Prairie Region. I participated in the Union Conversations session where youth members were able to chat informally with myself, Brother Chad Kemery, Sister Veronique Allard, Brother Jeffrey Vallis and Sister Carm Chan. Participants drafted an action plan through their notes taken during discussions on the last day of the course. Plans are under way for the Prairies Youth Initiative – a youth conference in the spring of 2011.

Compassionate Learning

Over the past few months, committees throughout the Prairie Region embraced equity education to help in their mobilization efforts and learn more about community organizations.

Calgary HRC had a presentation from the Calgary Disability Action Hall, a group of people with disabilities and allies who tell stories, take action and change lives. A discussion was held after with a brainstorming session on how the HRC could support and assist the work of the Disability Action Hall.

Saskatoon RWC attended OXFAM presentations on women’s rights with a speaker from Afghanistan who was a news reporter and activist, but had to flee her country

20 years ago when her husband was killed by government soldiers because of her work.

They also attended a presentation on women’s equality that included what’s next for women as citizens and their role in electing like-minded women to move the agenda forward on health care, universal child care, pensions, and homelessness and poverty for women.

Pensions remained at the forefront of members’ concerns as the Saskatoon RWC and Calgary AC participated in presentations and meetings to learn and discuss ideas.

The holiday celebrations at the various regional offices offered attendees an opportunity to learn about some local charities, including presentations from AIDS Saskatoon in Saskatoon and the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre in Winnipeg.

Social Conscience

Agriculture members from the Lethbridge AC, together with members from Local 30048 at the Lethbridge Research Centre, created and maintained the Lethbridge Food Banks’ Garden. Using 3,900 square feet of gardening space donated from the Research Centre, volunteers produced 2,079.5 pounds of healthy, fresh vegetables valued at approximately $4,159 which was donated to the Lethbridge Interfaith Food Bank.

Area Council members from Saskatoon participated in the annual Habitat for Humanity build. The members spent the day hauling dirt and gravel to fill in around the foundation of the home. Although the work was quite physical and draining, the members found it to be a rewarding experience.

The Edmonton HRC volunteered at Community Options, a society for children and families, festive dinner to feed a large number of people turkey dinner that might not otherwise have it. The community centre was very appreciative of their assistance.

Edmonton’s AC focused their time to fundraise for Homeless Connect, a community event that brings together agencies, businesses and volunteers to provide a range of services which can help homeless people out of homelessness. The AC collected four large boxes of toiletries from PSAC members and staff during their travels, made a financial donation to the project and volunteered at the event to hand out supplies.

In Calgary, the HRC worked on “Project Mobility”, a campaign to raise awareness of the government’s plans to charge employees for parking and the effect it will have on workers with disabilities. The campaign, supported by the Social Justice Fund, also promotes Calgary Handibus and the work they do. The HRC has developed and printed promotional postcards and will distribute those over the coming months.

Area Activism

PSAC was represented at a demonstration organized by the AFL to meet finance ministers from across the country and influence their CPP platforms as they arrived at the Calgary airport for their meeting in Kananaskis. Alberta Federation of Labour President Gil McGowan dressed as Santa Claus with all his CPP-supporting elves handing out candy canes adorned with the CLC’s CPP three-step plan. For the “nice” ministers supportive of the CPP plan, Santa had gifts. But for the “naughty” ministers, only lumps of coal.

Members from the Prince Albert & District AC and RWC lobbied MP Randy Hoback to discuss severance, pensions, childcare and plans to relocate staff within the Pay & Benefits Departments to Miramichi. Apparently his position was that there was no plan to deliberately cut public service jobs and that his government will not endorse a country wide childcare program. We will continue to discuss the issues with him so that he can see the error of his ways when it comes to childcare.

The Prince Albert AC also coordinated a flyer to promote public services. The two- sided informational flyer outlines what our members do and how those jobs and services affect the residents of Prince Albert. The flyer asks, “Which of these services could you live without?”

The Winnipeg AC organized a mail out during the municipal election to inform members of the labour friendly candidates in the running and the positions the mayoral candidates took on some important issues. They called on members to endorse candidates who are positive influences for working families.

Sisters in Solidarity

The final results from Winnipeg RWC’s successful school supply drive have been determined. Sisters on the committee worked collectively to collect 30 boxes of school supplies for Winnipeg School Division #1. The supplies were divided between 40 of the 70 schools in that division, providing almost 60 per cent of the schools in that division with the supplies they needed for their students. All monies raised were donated to the elementary school lunch programs at two different inner city schools.

Sisters in Winnipeg, with the help of PSAC members and staff, also collected toiletries over the past few months while on their travels. RWC members put together 153 individually wrapped packages containing shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, toothbrush and dental floss, which were donated to the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre – McGregor Community Care Site. The packages are provided to community members and families who need them.

Saskatoon’s RWC organized their 2nd annual AIDS Saskatoon clothing drive to provide warm clothing, toiletries and cash to help make the cold winter a little easier for people living with AIDS. Sisters collected and donated toys, gift cards, toiletries, bedding, winter clothing, shoes and men’s clothing. Items were presented to AIDS Saskatoon at the PSAC Saskatoon holiday celebration.

For the National Day of Remembrance and Action for Violence Against Women, the Edmonton RWC held a vigil and invited various guest speakers from the AFL, EDLC, PAAFE, HSSA, EPS and Changing Together. Sisters from the Saskatoon RWC also attended the Dec. 6 candlelight vigil in their respective area.

Sisters from Saskatoon’s AC and RWC attended the National Farmers Union Convention earlier this month where they set up a PSAC booth and spoke to convention delegates to highlight PSAC members’ contributions to protecting the environment and distribute information on the Food Safety First campaign.

Looking Ahead

The Calgary RWC has been actively planning the celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (IWD) with several other women’s groups. The RWC will write and perform in a narrative skit titled “Women of the Decades” portraying what women have accomplished around the world and in our communities and the limitations women still face today.

I have been invited to be the guest speaker at the Lethbridge IWD celebration under the theme “Making a Difference” on March 5, 2011.

Preparation and planning for our 2011 Triennial Regional Convention continue and we look forward to hosting delegates from across the Prairies in Winnipeg on June 10-12, 2011.

Respectfully submitted,

Robyn Benson
Regional Executive Vice-President – Prairies