Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the National Board of Directors, submitted for the January 25-28, 2014 meeting. This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.
REPORT OF THE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT, PRAIRIES
TO THE NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
January 25-28, 2014
ASSAULT ON LABOUR
As part of our fight back against Bill C-4 and the continued attack on labour, we organized a rally outside the 2013 Conservative Party of Canada Policy Convention in Calgary on November 2. More than 20cm of snow didn’t stop hundreds of devoted activists and concerned Canadians from protesting the Conservative’s Convention and their impaired judgment and reckless policies.
Guest speakers included Sister Robyn Benson; Gil McGowan, Alberta Federation of Labour President; Brigette DePape, the Senate page that held up the “Stop Harper!” sign during the 2011 Speech From the Throne; Sheelah McLean, one of the four original co-founders and organizers for Idle No More; Clayton Thomas-Muller, writer and advocate on environmental justice and indigenous rights; Dr. Diane Orihel, freshwater ecologist with Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta; CUPE National President Paul Moist; and Mike Palecek, CUPW National Union Representative. The Raging Grannies performed, as did the drumming circle, Sisters from Another Mother. Attendees also enjoyed food from M&M Meats at the post-rally tailgate BBQ, sponsored by Public Service Alliance of Canada Prairie Region, CUPE and UFCW Local 401.
Thank you to everyone who supported the event, including the Calgary Area Council and several PRC members for their contributions to organizing the event, and those that braved the blizzard conditions to speak out.
On November 7, the Prairie Region hosted a telephone town hall with thousands of PSAC members across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba about Bill C-4. Our guests on the call included Edith Bramwell, PSAC Representation Coordinator, and Denis St-Jean, PSAC National Health and Safety Officer. Members really enjoyed the opportunity to hear more about the legislation and to ask questions. We’ve posted audio from the call, as well as feedback from members on the Prairies website.
Members from the Prince Area Council lobbied and sent letters to Randy Hoback, Conservative MP for Prince Albert, while members of the Lethbridge Area Council lobbied Jim Hillyer, Conservative MP for Lethbridge Constituency. The Winnipeg Area Council held a phone bank to inform locals about how Bill C-4 would affect them and collect contact information for follow-up activities.
YOUNG WORKERS UNITE
Leading up to the holidays, dozens of young workers attended a series of meetings aimed at bringing young workers together to strategize on the establishment of young workers committees. Young workers who attended the six meetings throughout the Prairies were enthusiastic and interested in getting involved, and identified a need for education geared towards young workers. There was also a determination to ensure unions remain a strong voice for workers and that they are able to retire with dignity and security. We will continue to build a network of young workers, as well as encourage young workers to take courses offered by their regional office to prepare them to grow within the union.
FOCUSED ON COMMUNITY
The Saskatoon Regional Women’s Committee participated in the 8th Annual Sisters in Spirit Vigil on October 4. Then, on November 11, the committee got together to make purple ribbons to show solidarity with public sector workers affected by cuts to public services. The sisters who attended made over 600 ribbons for distribution to Locals. Along with the ribbons, they also made purple cards that explain the purple ribbon movement, asking members to wear the ribbons to demonstrate that “We Are All Affected” by the cuts.
Additionally, the RWC purchased gifts for 12 girls for the Operation Christmas Child (Shoebox Gifts) fundraiser. The boxes are made and distributed to a child who would normally have little to look forward to at Christmas. The boxes were filled with pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, note pads, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, brushes, hair clips and accessories, stuffed animals, harmonicas, bracelets, and hard candy. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Venezuela are some of the countries that the boxes are destined for.
To mark December 6, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, Sisters from Saskatoon RWC attended the event at City Hall, which was well attended, despite the bitter cold of -47. A few days earlier, a panel discussion on violence against women was held, along with a candle light vigil. RWC members participated by lighting candles for each of the 14 women.
The Saskatoon RWC and AC hosted the December Open House at the Saskatoon Regional office where RWC Chair Nancy Johnson unveiled two plaques to commemorate the work of former PSAC member and health and safety activist, the late Howard Willems. As Howard was an active member and supported the work of both the AC and RWC, committee members felt it only fitting to recognize his memory with this permanent memorial.
In Lethbridge, the RWC participated in several events, including the Sisters in Spirit Vigil, an anti-fracking demonstration at Galt Gardens, Persons Day breakfast, Take Back the Night, and Nifty Knitters, where committee members knitted mitts, toques, and scarves to donate to the Interfaith Food Bank for families in need. The Lethbridge Area Council was proud to co-sponsor the first annual Canadian Labour International Film Festival in Lethbridge. The event was a success and the vast majority of attendees were PSAC members.
The Winnipeg Regional Women’s Committee identified child hunger as a community cause they would support over the holiday season and donated funds to breakfast programs at Donwood Elementary School, Kent Road School, Machray School, and Breakfast for Learning. The committee also donated to the MFL’s Manitoba Labour Christmas Tree Project.
Members from the Winnipeg HRC staffed a booth at the UNE Human Rights Conference, October 3-6 in Winnipeg. To prepare for the conference, members developed a brochure focusing on human rights, which were handed out at the conference. The brochure was so well received that the committee plans to continue to hand them out at various union events around Winnipeg and area with the hopes of increasing awareness and building recruitment.
In Regina, the Area Council laid a wreath in recognition of Remembrance Day, as did the Edmonton Regional Women’s Committee. The Regina HRC held a seasonal event at the Regina Regional Office in honour of December 10, Human Rights Day.
POLITICS IN ACTION
The Winnipeg Area Council also participated in the by-election for the Manitoba riding of Provencher by preparing a mail out to PSAC members encouraging them to vote, along with an information sheet on Bill C-4.
Following the PSAC Equity Conferences, the Winnipeg Area Council, Human Rights Committee and Regional Women’s Committee held a joint meeting to discuss how the committees could address the attacks on public services. The meeting was well attended and a number of initiatives were developed.
Calgary Area Council was involved in several important initiatives, including the planning of the “Crash The(ir) Party!” rally during the Conservative Convention in Calgary, promoting labour-friendly candidates and issues during the municipal elections in Calgary and speaking with locals about Bill-C4.
The Lethbridge Area Council participated in the CLC’s Municipalities Matter campaign by encouraging members to vote and providing them with information about the differences between the candidates on issues for working families.
In the past several months we ratified collective agreements with Aramark Canada Ltd. – 15 Wing Moose Jaw, University of Winnipeg, and Hudson Bay Port Company (Churchill). A tentative agreement was reached with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights (Winnipeg) in December and a ratification meeting is scheduled for the end of January.
We are currently in negotiations with Regina Airport Authority, and are set to begin bargaining with Pro-Tec Fire Services of Canada (Saskatoon Airport FR), Prince Rupert Airport Society and Royal Canadian Mint in February.
We also have a newly organized unit with 35 members who work as Protective Services Officers at the Winnipeg Royal Canadian Mint facility. Notice to bargain has been issued and an information meeting was held for new members, along with an inaugural AGM in December. A bargaining team has been elected and the first team meeting is schedule for late January.
We are continuing to release videos from the Prairies Video Project at varying intervals. Our last release was about sick leave, and future releases include a look at Idle No More, experiences of GLBT members and grievance handling.
The 6th Triennial Convention of the PSAC Prairie Region will be held in Saskatoon, beginning Friday, June 27, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. and concluding Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 12:30 p.m. Deadline to register closes February 12, 2014.
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies