NBoD Report (Oct. 4-7, 2011)

Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the National Board of Directors, submitted for the October 4-7, 2011 meeting. This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.



October 4 – 7, 2011

This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.

Union Pride. Prairie Wide.

The 5th Triennial Prairie Region Convention was the biggest in our region’s history with 316 delegates and 45 observers coming together in Winnipeg June 10-12.

Delegates adopted many resolutions including one to establish a national bullying awareness campaign, and developing strategies to empower and train PSAC locals and their members to deal effectively with individual and institutional workplace bullying.

Also, nine new members were elected to the Prairie Region Council, in various positions. The area council reps were elected at their respective area council meetings prior to convention.

On the first day of convention, more than 400 members, staff and allies marched through Portage and Main to the Canada Post building several blocks away to rally for members of CUPW and protest Canada Post’s disgraceful approach to bargaining. Brother John Gordon spoke at the rally, as well as CUPE National President Paul Moist and CUPW National Vice-President Gayle Bossenberry.

Empowering Equality

Regina Human Rights Committee celebrated National Aboriginal Day by setting up a booth and providing balloons, fans and tattoos to everyone who stopped by. Prior to this event, they invited guest speaker Sandra Ahenakew to attend a meeting where she spoke about her experience with breast cancer and the events taking place in Regina to celebrate National Aboriginal day.

We held the last of three NAPC courses for our Aboriginal, Inuit and Metis members in Winnipeg in June. These courses, held in all three provinces and facilitated by the Prairies NAPC Reps with PSAC staff, were well received and are just one of our strategies for building bridges between union and Aboriginal cultures.

This training encouraged members in the Prince Albert area to start work on establishing an Aboriginal members committee. Members from three components have agreed to participate and the group plans to hold an educational event in the future. 

Members from Calgary’s HRC setup a display at the ARGRA Rodeo (Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association) located in Strathmore, AB, where they handed out PSAC pride flags.

Calgary’s GlobalFest is an arts and culture festival that celebrates and showcases cultural diversity and artistic excellence. This year, the Calgary HRC was a sponsor with a donation from the Social Justice Fund. Twenty PSAC members and their families volunteered for the opening night gala and, among other duties, assisted with a citizenship ceremony for 100 new Canadians.

Over the past year, we’ve made a concerted effort to reach out to the young workers in our region with the Young Workers in Action course and our Young Workers Conference. Through these events our union’s young workers have made it clear that they want to get more involved and are eager to establish an informal Young Workers Committee. We have started the work in the region to collect information from young members and establish a database to move forward with this.

Area Activism

Each year in September members across our region organize and attend Labour Day events to celebrate the contributions of workers who struggle to make a fair wage and create a meaningful society. This year was no exception with Labour Day events held in Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary, and Edmonton. PSAC members volunteered and attended BBQs organized by labour councils in the various cities.

Members from the Calgary Area Council donated supplies and set up a PSAC booth to distribute the petitions to Tony Clement, Parks Canada postcards and first aid kits, PSAC Think Public! cake, and “Stop Harper” cookies, which were a hit with activists and labour supporters. There was also an extensive bullying in the workplace display developed by the area council.

The Calgary Area Council, in conjunction with the regional office, also hosted the first “Celebrate the Steward” picnic. Stewards from 18 different locals in the Calgary area, along with their families, were invited and I was able to attend to help recognize each steward by presenting each of them with a PSAC steward kit.

In Edmonton, area council members and their families volunteered their time to decorate the PSAC float for the Capital Ex Parade and distribute Think Public! balloons and fans to the crowds. This is the fourth year the Edmonton Area Council has participated in this event.

The Regina Area Council welcomed two young women who participated in the Five Days of Homelessness event at the University of Regina to speak about their experience.

In Saskatoon, the area council continues to take an active role to ensure the PSAC petitions to Tony Clement are being promoted and completed by contacting locals to encourage and collect petitions. These calls are also being used to reach out to members to encourage them to lobby their MP and put a face to the public service cuts.

Winnipeg Area Council continued to work with the McGregor Street Community Care Site over the summer to support activities that promote participation in safe, structured activities for youth. This is an ongoing initiative with support from PSAC’s Social Justice Fund.

Sisters in Solidarity

The Prairie Region is happy to announce the creation of our seventh regional women’s committee in the Westman, MB area. This is something members on the Westman Area Council have been advocating for some time now. With support from UNE, CEIU and AGR, the request was submitted to and approved by the NBoD at the June 2011 meeting.

The Winnipeg RWC has been running the fifth annual “Pennies for Pencils” school supplies drive throughout the summer.  A number of locals are participating and have collected change that will be rolled and used to purchase school supplies. Members from the Winnipeg RWC will also be volunteering to collect school supplies at an upcoming Winnipeg Blue Bombers game. 

Regina Locals are contributing to a similar annual campaign organized by the Regina RWC in conjunction with Ranch Erhlo Society that will assist families with getting their children ready for another school year. The Regina Human Rights Committee will assist by purchasing some of the school supplies that are needed but weren’t donated.

Looking Ahead

The area councils in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have been busy preparing for their respective provincial elections. We will host two telephone town halls, one for each provincial election, to reach out to PSAC members in those provinces. We did this for the federal election and it was a huge success, with positive feedback from the membership. As well there will be mail outs to our members with information on the MFL’s “Working Families” campaign and SFL’s “Labour Issues” campaign.

All of our committees in Alberta are trying to collaborate for the Alberta Federation of Labour’s 100th anniversary in 2012. The preliminary plans include recognizing human rights in Alberta by putting together a display of what those accomplishments were and when they happened.

Respectfully submitted,

Robyn Benson,
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies