NBoD Report (June 1-4, 2010)

 

Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the National Board of Directors, submitted for the June 1-4, 2010 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
June 1 – 4, 2010

This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.

Regional Council

The Prairie Region Council met April 16, 2010 in Regina. Much of our time was focused on preparation for Convention to be held in Regina in June 2011. We also discussed our current and on-going campaigns. Prairie Region Council members continue to be heavily involved in their committees. During our next meeting in September, we will move ahead in the planning stages as the Convention date approaches.

Hands Off Our Pensions!

The focus in the Prairies in recent months has been on the Hands Off Our Pensions! campaign and, most recently, the Budget Fightback campaign. There has been overwhelming support across the region in favour of these campaigns. PRC members have really taken the lead on this and continue to rally support by making presentations at AGMs with the help of Regional Reps.

PSAC National Pension Officer James Infantino appeared at public forums in Saskatoon (Feb. 23), Prince Albert (Feb. 24), Regina (Mar. 16), Lethbridge (Mar. 29) and Calgary (Mar. 30) to speak about our pension fightback and graciously answer questions. PIPSC members were invited to the Saskatoon meeting and the VP of PIPSC, Shannon Bittman, also addressed the attendees. In Lethbridge, Sister J Deuw (from the Lethbridge Seniors Organization) was also a guest speaker who talked about the importance of pensions, expressly for single pensioners, single parent families and women. I spoke about our Pension Campaign at the well attended town hall in Winnipeg on Apr. 22.

We held an excellent rally at the Harry Hays building in Calgary on Feb. 17. The rally was hosted by the Calgary AC and the PIPSC Local and was a huge success with nearly 500 members in attendance. Patty Ducharme, Gary Corbett (PIPSC National President) and I spoke at the event, with a strong message to the government to keep their hands off our pensions.

On Feb. 14, the Edmonton AC staged a plant gate with the pension petition outside Canada Place, with help and representation from each of the regional committees (AC, RWC and HRC), as well as members from different locals. In total, from that day and circulating the petition through the locals, they got approximately 2000 signatures.

Pension forums were also held in Winnipeg (Feb. 22) and Brandon (Feb. 23) sponsored by the CLC and attended by several PRC members, who participated in discussion with community members and representatives from the MFL. The Winnipeg AC and Westman AC took an active role in promoting and encouraging these events to members. We were also invited to attend a discussion with John McCallum, Official Opposition Critic for Finance, in Winnipeg which gave us the opportunity to pose questions that are important to our members. Additionally, Budget Watch meetings were held in Regina and Winnipeg on Mar. 4.On Apr. 7, PRC member Brother Danial Curotte spoke at the Calgary installment of the Harper government’s 15-city “financial literacy” tour. The Task Force provided advice and recommendations to the Minister of Finance on a national strategy to strengthen the “financial literacy” of Canadians based on these meetings and we ensured our voice was heard.

We are currently planning meetings with all of our Locals for the Budget Fightback Campaign. We are inviting the Local President or an executive representative along with a Shop Steward. These meetings will bring together the Locals to collectively plan the fightback and establish commitment and accountability. With a Steward from each Local in attendance, we plan to celebrate the work of the Stewards and establish a network.

Area Outreach

While traveling across Canada, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe visited Edmonton and requested to meet with our members. The Area Council hosted a noon hour meeting on Apr. 15, where Duceppe spoke on the party’s anti-scab legislation, gun registry, child care and child labour, as well as Quebec becoming its own nation. The members carried the discussion with their questions.

The SFL Equity Conference took place in Saskatoon Feb. 11 & 12, followed immediately by the Saskatoon and District Labour Council AGM. At the Saskatoon United Way Community Awards banquet the Area Council GCWCC award was presented to the chair of the workplace campaign that had the highest participation rate (97%). The award went to Local 40146 – USGE.

Long serving Saskatoon Area Council President, and Prairie Region Council Representative, Sister Carol Casey has taken a position as JLP Co-Coordinator. I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Sister Casey and look forward to working with her in her new role. Sister Raj Dhir has retired from the government and the JLP and will now be an active representative from APSAR. I am so pleased that Sister Dhir will continue with her committed activism as our Region would have lost a valuable voice had she not joined the APSAR.

The Lethbridge AC, together with many other labour organizations, are sponsoring a multimedia performance recounting the story of workers, mostly women, who worked at the Great Western Garment Company (GWG) in Edmonton and their struggle to unionize and battle for better working conditions.

Empowering Equality

The Winnipeg HRC organized another Sweat Lodge Ceremony. The event took place on Mar. 16 and was very well attended. The members who participated felt it was a very positive experience.

The Winnipeg HRC had a Pride panel to discuss homophobia in the workplace and how to assist members who may be experiencing oppression. The panel included Chad Smith, Executive Director, and Reece Malone, Education Coordinator, for the Rainbow Resource Centre, Sharleen Paterson, Female GLBT Rep on the EOC, Timothy Hunt, GLBT Rep on the PRC and Caroline Klug, National Component VP for Human Rights and Rep. It should be noted that we used the latest in technology, that being video conferencing.

In Calgary, the HRC completed “Project Dignity” at the Mustard Seed, a Calgary shelter that aids the less fortunate. Feb. 2 brought out 18 PSAC members and allies, while the Feb. 26 dinner boasted 31 volunteers, including members of the Calgary AC and RWC. The HRC presented monies raised during the month long campaign in the amount of $3,100.

Sisters in Solidarity

The Winnipeg RWC celebrated International Women’s Day by attending the pancake breakfast and women in politics forum, co-sponsored by Manitoba Federation of Labour, Canadian Labour Congress & Winnipeg Labour Council. Speakers at the event included Jennifer Howard, MLA for Fort Rouge, who gave a history of achievements Manitoba women have gained. As well, Judy Wasylycia-Leis spoke on the need to continue our fight for pay equity and the protection of the rights of women in Canada.

The Winnipeg RWC also attended the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)- Winnipeg Chapter event, held to raise awareness about the actions needed to stop violence against women. They have started their annual efforts to collect school supplies and donations for Winnipeg’s inner city schools with their Adopt-A-Box of School Supplies initiative.

The Regina RWC produced, and distributed to all locals in South Saskatchewan, a DVD to celebrate PSAC union women and their families. There was a viewing of the video on International Women’s Day, which was open to all PSAC Members.

The Saskatoon RWC participated in the Federal Women’s Symposium and made a donation to the “Locks for Love” program. Representatives from the Area Council (as well as several other members) attended the Day of Mourning ceremony at the library and laid a wreath at the memorial. A new wreath was purchased with funds provided by the RWC.

The Prince Albert RWC joined forces with the community Multi-cultural Society to celebrate International Women’s Day. Sister Denni Nelson visited worksites to deliver roses and a message from the RWC in the hopes of building interest and membership.

Edmonton RWC members attended a luncheon held by the Alberta Federation of Labour for International Women’s Day.

Looking Forward

Continuing with our goals to build the union in the workplace and in our communities, and to empower members to participate in their union, our draft education plan for 2010/11 has been established. This plan includes several new courses and training opportunities including Workplace Bullying, Young Workers in Action and Online Organizing: Using social media to build the union.

Sisters will be gathering in Saskatoon Sept. 10-12 for our Regional Women’s Conference, under the theme “Putting Our Passion into Action.”

Brother Jeffrey Vallis, our newly appointed Regional Political Communications Officer, has been distributing weekly e-newsletters to our members. We have received very positive feedback and I invite you to subscribe or view past editions of the e-newsletter on our website.

Respectfully submitted,

Robyn Benson
Regional Executive Vice-President Prairies