NBoD Report (Oct 2-5, 2012)

Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the National Board of Directors, submitted for the Oct. 2 – 5, 2012 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

October 2 – 5, 2012

This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.

WE ARE ALL AFFECTED

It’s been a busy summer with events happening throughout the Prairie Region to highlight the “We Are All Affected” summer campaign. Members have been attending events and activities armed with promotional materials and information about how we are all affected, in our communities, workplaces and families, by the federal government cuts.

In July, Treasury Board President Tony Clement made an appearance in Brandon, Manitoba where 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 Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) in Saskatchewan.

The Calgary Area Council has been promoting the campaign and distributing materials at popular events such as the Calgary Folk Music Festival, GlobalFest, and 3rd Annual Labour Day BBQ.

I have met with the Federal Councils in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to discuss how we can work together to support and assist affected members. PIPSC representatives have also been participating and CAPE has been invited but not attended to date. We are committed to working together with the Federal Councils and other union reps and our discussions have been very helpful. Each of the Federal Councils has agreed to share information on job opportunities and training, which we will distribute through our Prairies E-newsletter

MEMBER MOBILIZATION

In an effort to boycott employer activities for public service week, PSAC members across the Prairies planned alternate member appreciation events. The Edmonton AC distributed cupcakes to PSAC members, while most other areas hosted Celebration BBQ’s. A large BBQ was held at Harry Hays in Calgary in support of the work our members do, and a number of cakes and cookies were sent to worksites from Coutts to Red Deer. Lethbridge members partnered with the Lethbridge District Labour Council to distribute popcorn and host a rally. In Prince Albert, members put on a short skit to demonstrate how the cuts were impacting the community and their families.

Members in Coutts, Alberta, started the FB “I Support My Bargaining Team” green shoelace initiative, which has now been implemented across the country. In the original Coutts workplace action, 22 of 25 Border Services Officers wore their green shoelaces proudly, along with “Security OUR Priority” stickers. In a workplace that typically faces intimidation from management, almost all members came together for this action. It significantly improved the morale and overall sense of solidarity in the workplace.

We are proud to welcome research assistants, senior research assistants and research associates employed at the University of Winnipeg after the Manitoba Labour Board certified PSAC as their bargaining agent on May 31, 2012. The new bargaining unit of nearly 200 employees will be part of the existing PSAC Directly Chartered Local 55600 at the University of Winnipeg. This Local already comprises about 400 teaching assistants, lab demonstrators, markers and tutors, as well as 30 English language program instructors.

The Edmonton RWC once again hired an instructor from the REAL Self Defense Center to provide a workshop to PSAC Sisters based on real scenarios, real attacks, and chain of events. Eleven women attended the Self Defense Workshop and the feedback was very positive. The instructor stressed that avoidance is the number one goal and to be aware of your surroundings, both visually and audibly. The class was a combination of classroom learning and practice drills.

POLITICAL ACTION

PSAC Sisters in Lethbridge participated in events for “Womb Swarm Parliament — Textile Artists United Against Motion M-312,” a creative initiative opposing the dangerous anti-abortion motion currently being debated in Ottawa. Members from the Calgary RWC and Lethbridge Locals joined women from Womanspace Resource Centre to knit or crochet women’s reproductive organs to send to Parliament as part of a nationwide protest.

The Saskatoon AC had attempted to schedule an appointment with Conservative MP for Blackstrap Lynne Yelich, but was told she is not meeting with constituents at this time. Alternatively, the AC sent a letter regarding the drastic cuts being made to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, affecting crucial programs such as the Prairie Shelterbelt Program and Community Pasture Program and is encouraging all members to get in touch with their MPs to discuss their concerns.

In response to the Saskatchewan Party’s public consultation paper proposing a comprehensive review of the current provincial labour legislation in Saskatchewan, the PSAC Prairie Region submitted a position paper. 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. In total, the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety received more than 3,700 submissions.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

On June 21, National Aboriginal Day, members across the Prairies paid tribute to the cultures and achievements of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada at various events in their area.

The Northern Saskatchewan Regional Aboriginal Peoples’ Circle, the first of its kind in the Prairies, has been very active at worksites and in the community. In conjunction with the National Truth & Reconciliation Commission hearings in Saskatoon, North Sask. RAPC planned a Round Dance. As part of the event, a pipe ceremony and feast were done to honour and feed those who have traveled to the spirit world.Approximately 300 people were in attendance throughout the evening.

The Saskatoon AC participated in the United Way of Saskatoon Day of Caring on June 6. Members kicked off the day with a pancake breakfast at the YMCA sponsored by the Saskatoon District Labour Council, before spending the day at a Girl Guide House renovating their memorial garden. Also in Saskatoon, the RWC has organized and volunteered for the Saskatoon & District Labour Council’s Summer Snack Program, which provides lunches in four inner-city parks during the summer. This is an annual activity that our members and their families continue to be a part of.

Leading up to back-to-school time, RWC’s in Edmonton and Winnipeg continued their annual school supplies fundraisers. In Edmonton, the monies raised go to the Tools for School campaign put on by the United Way Alberta Capital Region. Last year, they filled 12,118 backpacks with school supplies. In Winnipeg, PSAC teamed up with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Football Club to collect school supplies at Canad Inns Stadium gates.  Members also collected supplies in their workplaces throughout the summer.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

The Calgary HRC committee participated in the 2012 GlobalFest activities. This year’s theme was on Aboriginal Issues – Common Myths, Education and Justice. PSAC members volunteered at the on-site PSAC booth to distribute information about NAPC & Aboriginal rights. Donations were also collected to support St. Martin Lake School and Awo Taan Healing Lodge (previously Awo Taan Native Women’s Shelter).

FUTURE

The 2012 Prairie Regional Health and Safety Conference is coming up, November 17-18 in Edmonton, Alberta. Plans are well under way and we are looking forward to a meaningful, productive and very successful conference. In response to the continually growing number of concerns brought forward by members and in response to member supported resolutions from the Prairie Region Triennial Convention, the overall theme will deal with Mental Health in the Workplace with particular attention to the impact and prevention of bullying. 

Planning is also underway for a Prairies Separate Employer Conference to be held late in 2012, as well as to compare costs and logistics in order to confirm a location and date for the 2014 Prairie Region Convention.

Finally, we are in the midst of elections for Alternate REVP Prairies and should have a newly appointed Alternate REVP by our next Prairie Region Council meeting, October 12-13 in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Respectfully submitted,

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