REPORT OF THE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT, PRAIRIES
TO THE NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
February 12-15, 2019
This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting in October 2018.
Action in the Prairies
As I reported in my last NBOD report, on September 5th PSAC members were given last minute information that Prime Minister Trudeau would be in Edmonton for a fundraiser. Even with this short notice we were able to gather 25+ members to greet him at the Delta Hotel.
The next week, on September 11th, Prime Minister Trudeau was in Winnipeg for announcements and an evening party fundraiser. Winnipeg members and staff were there to meet him at the Fort Garry Hotel. We spoke to people entering the event – including Liberal politicians – and made sure that the Prime Minister saw us and heard our message, even though he entered through the side door. Wherever Trudeau goes on the Prairies, we make sure he hears our message!
On Sept. 26th, I spent the day with the participants of the Union Women at Work course in Regina. An inspiring bunch with enthusiasm, energy and MANY ideas.
On Oct. 18th, I was honored to represent PSAC nationally by presenting to the HUMA committee of Parliament in Ottawa on Bill 81 - The Accessible Canada Act. The submission is available on the PSAC website.
Many thanks to Srs. Michelle Lang and Wanda Quennell for hosting the Prairies DCL/Separate Employer conference October 19th to 21st in Saskatoon. Participants heard from PSAC’s Privatization and Contracting Out Officer, Michelle Girash, Negotiators Seth Sezant and Tom Milne, Organizer Ted Klassen and Grievance and Adjudication Office Pam Sihota. This was the first time attending for the majority of the participants and it was an opportunity for many to hear about other locals and employers outside of the federal public service. Participants also spent time developing some plans for activities to mobilize members from SE’s and DCL’s.
On Oct. 24th, I joined USJE 40008 at the RCMP Depot for a morning information picket on Dewdney St. in Regina in regards to Phoenix. It was a chilly morning, but we received a warm reception from commuters.
I also attend the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour Convention where Lori Johb was elected as the new President of the SFL, replacing the retiring Larry Hubich. We wish Brother Larry the best in his well-earned retirement! Saskatchewan Party Minister of Labour Don Morgan addressed the convention and faced questions from the audience. The first two delegates to the mic to ask questions were Sister Michelle Lang and yours truly. While some MLA’s had been evasively saying publicly that the 3.5% wage cut mandate was withdrawn, we stood up for our members at Casino Regina and ALL public service workers in Saskatchewan! While the Minister said it is without question withdrawn, the Casino negotiator has yet to confirm with our negotiator so time will tell.
The Prairie Region Council met on November 2nd and 3rd in Winnipeg. Thank you to Brianne Goertzen, Provincial Director of the Manitoba Health Coalition for presenting to us and standing up for strong, public, equitable health care. We also held a “Here for Canada” rally: Big thank you to all PSAC members who attended! We also received support from MGEU, MFL, CUPE, USW, Winnipeg District Labour Council and CLC. Thank you to NDP MLAs Andrew Swan and Ted Marcelino for attending as well.
After more than two years of not being able to adjust membership dues because the Phoenix system could not accept our changes, the “change file” began to be processed on November 14th. On November 22nd, the Prairie Region hosted a Webinar to discuss this issue and other updates. I took questions and provided as much information as possible to members.
The 2018 Prairie Region Health & Safety Conference was held November 17-18, 2018 in Saskatoon. On Saturday, the keynote speech was given by Chalaine Senger, a registered social worker who is employed as the labour consultant with the Canadian Mental Health Association - Saskatoon Branch. She delivered a fabulous presentation on mental health, encouraging union activists to practice self-care so that we are healthy and able to assist members in need. On Sunday afternoon, Jesse Todd (Board Chair of the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization - SADAO) provided an informative session on recent changes and initiatives in regards to asbestos, and answered questions from delegates workplace asbestos issues. Clint Wirth, the PSAC - Prairie Region Health and Safety Representative, gave a presentation on cannabis and the effect of legalization on workplaces. Over the course of two days, members participated in three workshops, including: Duty to Accommodate - People with Mental Health Disabilities; Psycho-social Hazards and Mental Health Issues in the Workplace; and Mobilizing Workplaces Through Health and Safety Issues.
Support Our Port
PSAC and UCTE have been active in lobbying for our members and the people of Churchill for more than two years. With the recent sale of the Port and rail line to the Artic Gateway Group, we are eager to make up for lost time.
OmniTrax was in the middle of negotiations with PSAC/UCTE on a renewal of the collective agreement for the employees at the Port before the sale went through. We believe that it is in the best interest of everyone to negotiate this in as timely a manner as possible. As such, we have written the new employer with the hopes of bringing a swift and fair contract to our members. They have asked for some time to get oriented but we are anticipating bargaining dates for both the Port and the Churchill Marine Tank Farm to resume shortly.
On October 3rd, I joined our negotiator and bargaining team during negotiations. I made it clear to the employer representative that we would not be signing any agreements that included a 3.5% cut to wages and benefits; they advised that their mandate from the government has not changed despite statements from government ministers indicating the contrary.
We have written to the Minister responsible for Gaming several times to clarify their mandate and will continue to pressure the government to withdraw this proposal from all public sector bargaining tables. Following bargaining, I attended 2 membership meetings to provide bargaining updates.
Deer Lodge Centre
Bill 29 (The Health Sector Bargaining Union Review Act) will force health care workers in Manitoba into “representation votes” to determine what union will represent them in the future, instead of being represented by the union they have already freely chosen.
From day one, PSAC and other health sector unions have told the Pallister government that there are better solutions that can work for everyone. There is no need for this process to be conducted in Manitoba. The government has chosen to pit unions against each other. That’s not right.
The 500 PSAC/UVAE members at Deer Lodge Centre provide high quality care to our veterans, and do so with respect. They should be focused on this important and valuable work, not worrying about complicated and unnecessary representation votes.
PSAC believes that priority of this government should be to ensure that our veterans receive the best possible care from employees who are focused on their needs and not on an unnecessary bargaining union restructure. We have written to the Manitoba Health Minister and the Federal Veterans’ Affairs Minister to ask that Deer Lodge Centre be exempted from this process. Virginia Vaillancourt – Acting National President of UVAE - and I also met with officials of Manitoba Health in December to make this case.
Committees In Action
Every year the Women’s Centre of Calgary operates a Toy Room for a two-week period and gives low income mothers the opportunity to “shop” for gifts for their children. The kids can also shop for something for their moms. This year PSAC's Calgary Regional Women's Committee volunteered to work at the Toy Room. They held a toy drive from November 13th to December 12th. On the evening of December 13th, the committee helped children and their mothers pick out gifts, wrapping them and bringing Christmas cheer.
Winnipeg Area Council members participated for a fourth year in the Santa Claus Day Parade on November 17th. The theme of the float this year was the "Here for Canada" campaign, drawing attention to the hard work of federal public service workers who continue to serve Canadians despite missed paychecks and financial hardship due to the Phoenix pay system.
On November 14th, the Lethbridge Area Council held a Payday Phoenix Pizza Picket attended by approximately 40-50 people. Even the wind was on our side making sure the flags from AGR, CIU, UTE, PSAC, CUPW and many other of our allies flew high! We also had some PIPSC, students and APSAR members attend. I was able to attend – thank you to Sister Krysty Munns for organizing the event!
Negotiations are ongoing at the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development in Winnipeg. Bargaining will continue the last week of January. With the election of a new executive and assistance of the Regional Organizer, the decertification attempt appears to be suspended but we continue to ensure members are supporting their bargaining team.
Bargaining continues at the Royal Canadian Mint for both the Winnipeg and Ottawa locations. There has been some progress on non-monetary and two dates are set for April 2019.
Notice to bargain issued for the Winnipeg Airport Firefighters. The employer indicated they would not be making a maintenance of activities application (essential services) and we have responded. Mediation is scheduled to resolve this dispute. Exchange of demands is scheduled for Feb. 19-20th.
Notice to bargain has been issued at to the Regina Airport Authority. Demands were exchanged in Nov. 2018 with another round of bargaining held Janl. 7-9, 2019.
Ratification meeting for Bouygues Energies and Services Canada Ltd. at the Winnipeg Airport is scheduled for Feb. 13th. This will be the first contract for this unit if ratified.
A first tentative agreement was reached for RA’s at the University of Winnipeg in mid-December. The agreement also includes a Letter of Understanding that the parties would meet within 3 months of ratification of the RA agreement to discuss the integration of the Post-Docs into the RA bargaining unit.
Bargaining is underway for the Academic Capacity Unit at the University of Winnipeg. Some progress was made in December with additional bargaining dates set for Jan. 10-11th.
An arbitration hearing was held Dec. 6-7th for Post-Docs at the University of Saskatchewan. The employer has been willing to continue discussions on a few items but we await the decision of the arbitrator and look forward to a first collective agreement for these members.
The CA for All National Healing Hospital in Fort Qu’Appelle, SK expired March 31, 2017. Bargaining has not yet started as a result of the provincial government’s wage mandate of a 3.5% wage cut. We are in regular contact with other healthcare unions in Sask.
Bargaining continues at Casino Regina, a Crown Corporation of the Prov. of Sask. While the Minister of Labour indicated in October that the mandated wage cut of 3.5% is off the table, the employer has not confirmed such with our negotiator. Bargaining is set for last week of February 2019.
The CA for Deer Lodge Centre (DLC) in Winnipeg expired March 31, 2017. Due to an anti-labour agenda by the Provincial Government, employers were not given a mandate to negotiate. All healthcare in Manitoba is now subject to Bill 29 which is forcing representation votes for all healthcare workers in Manitoba. Upon conclusion, the legislation says that the existing CA for the union chosen to represent workers will come into effect. As such, there are no plans to initiate bargaining at this time for our members at DLC.
With the announcement of the sale of the Port of Churchill and the Churchill Marine Tank Farm from OmniTrax to the Arctic Gateway Group, we are requested to resume negotiations for the Port of Churchill which expired Dec. 31, 2015. We have also served notice to bargain for the Churchill Marine Tank Farm which expired Dec. 23, 2018. We are awaiting dates from the employer.
Prairies Regional Executive Vice-President