NBoD Report (Feb. 3-6, 2009)

 

REPORT OF THE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT PRAIRIES
TO THE NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
February 3 – 6, 2009

This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.

Regional Council

In September, the new Prairie Region Council met for 2 ½ days of training.  The training led by our Regional Education Officer was intended to give the Council the tools they needed to represent the Prairies.  At this time, Council members were assigned to various sub-committees such as, Finance, Communications, Education, etc.  In November, prior to the Prairies Activists’ Conference, we had a one day meeting in which we dealt with the resolutions from the Prairie Convention and items submitted.  Minutes can be found on the Prairie Region website.

Political & Social Action

I am very proud of the work that our members did, not only on Political Action but Social Action as well.  Members of the Prairie Region Council as well as all of our Area Councils, Regional Women’s Committees and Human Rights Committees were very involved in the Federal Election.  We had members in each Regional Office area who worked as the election coordinators; the work done by these members was fantastic.

Federal Election

In Manitoba, we sponsored an all-candidates meeting in the Elmwood-Transcona riding, as well, we held phones banks over several evenings.  In addition, mail outs were sent to our members in four targeted ridings.  I am pleased to report that labour friendly candidates were elected in Elmwood-Transcona riding and Churchill riding.

In Saskatchewan, we co-sponsored two all-candidates meetings, in Prince Albert and Saskatoon.  As well, there was a direct mail out to all members in Northern Saskatchewan and targeted ridings in Southern Saskatchewan.  Although we were unsuccessful in electing any labour friendly candidates, we came within 300 votes in the Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar riding.    

In Alberta, we did a direct mail to our three targeted ridings.  I am incredibly proud of the fact that in this province of blue we now have an orange dot in the Edmonton-Strathcona riding.

I want to thank all of the members who participated in the Federal election and exercised their democratic right to vote for the candidate of their choice.  Our members attended all-candidates meetings in other than our targeted ridings and asked the tough questions about the representation they would receive from each party.
 

Make Parliament Work

Across the Prairie Region our members were involved with the Make Parliament Work or Coalition Yes events.  There were rallies in Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary and Edmonton that were well attended by citizens who realized that the Conservative Party’s economic statement would do nothing for this country.  We anxiously await the federal budget to see if in fact we will be heading to an election.

Students for Sustainability Tour

The PSAC was a sponsor of this tour and it was very well received in the Prairies.  There were stops in Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary.  The PSAC had speakers at all three events, as well as, tables with information about the PSAC. 

Social Action

In Calgary, the PSAC partnered with the University of Calgary’s Women’s Program to take part in a December 6th National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women ceremony on campus that was very successful.  Two members of the RWC committee were part of the candle bearing ceremony honouring the lives of the women in the massacre.  The WinnipegRWC sent a letter to PSAC members, written by Sister Alisha Bigelow, to raise awareness around Dec. 6th .  On December 5th, the Edmonton RWC set-up a table at Canada Place and handed out buttons, bookmarks and post cards in recognition of Dec. 6th.

In Winnipeg, the Sisters in Spirit vigil was held on October 3rd.  The event this year was a concert of Aboriginal musicians and was organized by Brothers in Spirit.  PSAC was a major sponsor at the event and was recognized by Mothers of Red Nations, an affiliate of Native Women’s Association of Canada.  Sister Alisha Bigelow spoke on behalf of the PSAC at the concert and then gave a moving report of the event to the Winnipeg RWC Mtg. 

Our Human Rights Committees all celebrated International Human Rights Day December 10th.  Notably, in Edmonton, committee members attended a rally held at City Hall. 

All of our Committees jointly held seasonal events to promote and encourage participation in their committees amongst the membership.

Our members continue to show solidarity and support for fellow PSAC members and other Unions.  For example, in Regina the three committees co-sponsored and provided a lunch on the line for the picketing Grain Services Union members employed at Viterra.  In Calgary, during the Government Services Union Convention, the Prairie Region Council Reps and Area Council members helped to organize a rally and barbeque lunch.

Our members strongly supported the UPCE picket lines.  The courage and solidarity shown by the strikers was incredible.  Although there were many hurdles to overcome, those that stayed on the line to the bitter end need to be commended.  I want to thank all of the members of the Prairies and other Unions, for their generosity shown to the UPCE members.

Education

For the first time ever we held a Separate Employer Groups Conference October 31 – November 2, 2008 in Regina.  The conference objectives were:

  •  Know more about the structure of the PSAC and the opportunities available to them within that structure;
  • Know more about the different federal and separate employer groups and jurisdictions within the PSAC membership;
  • Feel a connection to other Separate Employer PSAC members, and to their representatives on the Prairie region Council; and,
  • Be able to get involved in some of the broader PSAC campaigns.

The 35 members that attended thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to not only network, but to feel more included in their Union.

In November 2008, 54 activists from across the Prairies came together in Edmonton for 2½ days of conversation, networking, celebrating and planning.  The participants were representatives of the Prairie Region Council, Area Councils, Regional Women’s Committees, Human Rights Committees, and the NAIM National Circle.

During the conference, participants attended workshops on:

  • The PSAC Priorities of DQPS, Collective Bargaining Mobilization and Membership Renewal
  • The Priorities of Regional Human Rights Committees, the NAIM and the PSAC Equal Opportunities Committee
  • The Priorities of Regional Women’s Committees and the Women’s Program of the PSAC
  • Committee Skills Workshops:  Facilitation Skills for Union Meetings;  Media Skills and Mentoring:  Leadership and Succession Planning
  • Planning for Area Councils, Regional Women’s Committees and Human Rights Committees

Each planning workshop drafted a framework for each action or event they will organize, in support of one of the union’s priorities, in the coming year. 

The Education schedules for the new year are out and posted on the website.  The planning for our school is well under way.  The school will be held in Edmonton May 27 – 31, 2009.
 

Regional Activities & National Portfolios

As the AEC officer responsible for the SV Bargaining Unit, I want to thank the members of the team for their hard work and dedication.  I am extremely proud of the fact that at the end of this collective agreement, should it be accepted, we will finally have a national rate of pay.  All negotiating team members from all of our units should be proud of themselves for the work that they did on behalf of the membership in such trying times.  I want to thank all of them for giving up time with their families, friends, and workplaces.  I have spoken at many ratification meetings and want to thank the members who came out to vote.

Across Canada, the Canadian Federation of Students held rallies to protest rising tuition fees.  I was very honoured to represent labour on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature and speak at the Winnipeg rally.  It was indeed exciting and exhilarating to speak to hundreds of young people who unified their voices for a common cause.  

I was very pleased to tour and meet members at Drumheller and Bowden Institutions.  It is always a privilege to speak with members and learn first hand about their work.  I was also given the opportunity to speak at the following AGMs, USGE Local 50015, UTE Local 50031, and NHU Local 50012.  I want to thank the Executives for their invitation.

During this timeframe the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour held their Convention.  I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Sister Marianne Hladun, who was elected as the SFL PSAC VP and her alternate Sister Fran Mohr.

For a full overview of my activities please see the attached itinerary.  My National Portfolios are covered in the report of the National President as well as, in the Committee reports to the NBoD.
 

Respectfully submitted,

Robyn Benson
Regional Executive Vice-President – Prairies