Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the National Board of Directors, submitted for the October 21-24, 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
October 21-24, 2014
This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.
NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE WEEK
PSAC members across the Prairies boycotted NPSW activities, held June 15-21. The Prince Albert Area Council held two plant gates at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert to promote the boycott, as well as the issues of sick leave and pensions. The Area Council Chair also visited Randy Hoback, Conservative MP for Prince Albert, to discuss the boycott and calling on the MP to respect public service workers.
Members across the region took it upon themselves to counter the anti-labour rhetoric around NPSW by submitting letters to the editor of their local newspapers. The letters outlined why they chose not to participate in NPSW and called on the government to show real respect by investing in public services and leaving sick leave untouched. We’ve posted a selection of the letters that members submitted on the Prairies website.
We developed a special informational poster for locals, calling on members to show the employer they can’t be bought off with ice cream and burgers. Special thanks to GSU Local 30001 in Edmonton for the poster concept and tagline, “Today you get ice cream, tomorrow you lose sick leave!” We developed materials around this theme, including Facebook graphics and an action for members to deliver to their MP, which were utilized by several other regions and components.
Multi-local meetings were held in Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina, Brandon, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, CFB Suffield, and Lethbridge to discuss our plan for dealing with attacks from this government. The meetings were very successful, with nearly 400 members attending 20 different meetings held in the nine locations to hear updates from leadership and bargaining team members. We also held two webinars following the Prairies Convention for those who weren’t able to make a meeting in person.
Many PSAC members have taken action by writing letters to editors and to their MPs. When Yvonne Hein, PSAC/Agriculture Union member in Winnipeg, heard about Tony Clement’s plan to take away accumulated sick leave benefits from federal public service workers, she wrote a letter to Shelley Glover, Conservative MP for Saint Boniface. Her letter is published on the Prairies website, along with my letter to the editor that was published in the Winnipeg Sun on July 15, criticizing the op-ed (“Sick of union entitlement”) that called the attacks on PSAC members’ sick leave “common sense”.
UNION PRIDE, SASKATOON WIDE
The 6th Triennial Prairie Region Convention was held June 27-29 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. More than 320 people attended, including 268 delegates, 32 observers, 11 NBoD and 11 guests.
We asked attendees for their feedback through an online survey and received 109 responses (a 33 per cent participation rate). The feedback provided will help us to make improvements for our next regional convention, to be held in Alberta in 2017. Most of the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with 25 per cent of respondents saying the Prairies Convention exceeded their expectations and 64 per cent saying it met their expectations.
Delegates stood together in solidarity to denounce public service cuts by proudly holding up signs that state “Standing Together for Public Services / Standing Together for Fairness”. An album of photos from this action has been posted to the PSAC Prairies Facebook page.
Special thanks to the Saskatoon Host Committee for their time and commitment to ensuring delegates had a great experience in Saskatoon.
LABOUR DAY CELEBRATIONS
PSAC members took time to recognize the contributions of workers and celebrate solidarity at Labour Day events throughout the Prairies. In Lethbridge, the Area Council and RWC participated in the local BBQ hosted by the Lethbridge and District Labour Council with the assistance of affiliated unions, including PSAC, and attended by over 300 people.
Members from the Calgary HRC and Area Council participated in the Calgary and District Labour Council’s annual Labour Day BBQ. Committees set up a booth where the public could get more information about the We Are All Affected campaign, spin the wheel for labour trivia prizes, play the “Harper Hates” bean bag game, and pick up a special cookie branded with the PSAC Prairies logo.
In Winnipeg, hundreds took to the street for the annual Labour Day march to celebrate workers. The march ended with a family picnic hosted by the Winnipeg Labour Council. PSAC members participated along with representatives from several other unions.
Members from the Saskatoon Area Council and RWC participated in their local event, distributing PSAC tattoos and balloons to attendees. The PSAC Idle No More noisemakers were also a popular giveaway.
The Calgary Area Council, HRC and RWC partnered to set up a booth at GlobalFest. The booth showcased PSAC’s We Are All Affected campaign and featured a spin the wheel game where participants were asked questions regarding cuts to public services. Committee members also supported and volunteered during the citizenship ceremonies and GlobalFest Human Rights Forum, which featured a panel discussion about temporary foreign workers. Committee member Deb Kosteniuk was a speaker at the Forum.
The Lethbridge Area Council & RWC continued their community garden this year and has already donated approximately 2,000 pounds of fresh vegetables to the Interfaith Food Bank Society of Lethbridge. By the time the season is over, the committees expect to donate over 3,000 pounds of vegetables. In Saskatoon, the RWC worked on their own food bank garden initiative and continued work with the Summer Snack Program.
The Calgary RWC participated in the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon on June 1 to raise money for the Women’s Centre of Calgary “Basic Needs” program. Members raised $2,500 in donations, which was matched by the PSAC Social Justice Fund for a final donation of $5,000.
The Northern Saskatchewan Regional Aboriginal Peoples’ Circle planned and participated in “A Walk For Hope” in honour of missing and murdered aboriginal women. They also joined the community to plan and participate in the round dance.
The Regina RWC walked in the Queen City Pride parade and distributed PSAC pride materials to the crowds, including noisemakers, flags and tattoos. The items were very popular with parade attendees. Members from Saskatoon Area Council and Winnipeg HRC also marched in their respective parades.
With the 2015 federal election just over one year away and various municipal elections happening in the coming months, PSAC members are working to get the vote out and to change the face of democracy in our country and our communities.
The Winnipeg RWC hosted a political awareness seminar on September 10 with special guest speaker Kelly Moist, CUPE Manitoba President. Members representing various committees and locals attended to learn about the importance of the upcoming elections, why we should all be informed and how to get involved.
Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Area Council is gearing up for the municipal election to be held on October 22. They mailed a letter to all candidates that explains the diversity of our membership base and calls on the candidates to demonstrate support for our members, public service workers and all unions. The Area Council will also mail out a letter to all members in the Winnipeg area to encourage them to support labour-friendly candidates on Election Day.
BARGAINING & ORGANIZING
Several regional bargaining units have ratified their new collective agreements recently, including All Nations’ Healing Hospital Inc. (Fort Qu’Appelle) on May 29 and Freshwater Fish Marketing Corp. (Winnipeg) on June 14. Following a hearing in July, the Manitoba Labour Board imposed a first collective agreement for employees of the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resources Development (Winnipeg) for a one-year term. We also recently reached a tentative deal with Sodexo Canada Ltd (Moose Jaw) and will hold a ratification meeting in the coming weeks.
The collective agreement for employees of the Royal Canadian Mint (Winnipeg & Ottawa) expired December 31, 2013 and we have recently exchanged proposals with the employer. Additionally, we have a newly organized unit with 35 members who perform security services at the Winnipeg facility. Notice to bargain has been issued and bargaining of the first collective agreement will begin the first week of December.
HEALTH & SAFETY TOUR
This fall, Clint Wirth, Regional Representative – Health and Safety, will undertake a tour across the Prairies to meet with locals and host evening education and information sessions. Brother Wirth has prioritized his site visits based on discussions with regional staff and requests from locals who have specific workplace health and safety concerns or committees who are in need of support, information or assistance.
The evening sessions will be approximately two hours and will be a review of the changes that Bill C-4 has brought to health and safety, a discussion of PSAC’s health and safety initiatives and an open forum members to discuss their health and safety needs.
Brother Wirth will be reaching out to RVP’s responsible for the locals he is visiting to invite them to attend. He will also work with the PRC Health & Safety Committee to ensure the involvement of the Committee.
The Prairies Summit will be held September 20-21 in Regina, which will bring together representatives from the Prairie Region Council, Components, Regional Committees and Area Councils to plan for our future. We will work together to come up with a strategy to combat concessions and cuts to public services in an increasingly hostile political environment.
Additionally, we’re hosting the Prairies Young Workers’ Conference and Prairies Separate Employers Conference, held simultaneously September 23-24 in Regina. The Young Workers’ Conference will be the first region-wide gathering of young workers in the Prairies since the last Young Workers’ Conference held in May 2011 in Edmonton. The last Separate Employers Conference was held in October 2008, as the scheduled 2012 conference was cancelled due to low registration. Both events are highly anticipated and will be important networking and educational opportunities for those members participating.
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies