REPORT OF THE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT, PRAIRIES
TO THE NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
October 22-25, 2019
This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting in June.
It was a busy time of celebrations for the 100th Anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike. Commemoration started with a Gala Dinner on May 15th. Prairies members enjoyed spending the evening with the National President, Chris Aylward and Ontario REVP Sharon DeSousa who were in Winnipeg for the CLC Canadian Council. Thank you to everyone who attended the parade in Winnipeg commemorating the 1919 General Strike. Our PSAC contingent included the entire AEC, Component Presidents, Component National Officers and the Prairie Region Council, as well as around fifty members. Special thanks to Brother Frank Janz for all his hard work to get the float working, Brother Glen Johnston for driving the truck and pulling the float and Sister Christine Dmyterko for making the aged signs with slogans from the 1919 Strike!
On June 6th CEIU/PSAC Members rallied in Winnipeg for a fair contract and Phoenix compensation. The rally on Broadway garnered great media attention and public support.
June 8 was the annual UTE Tri-Local Picnic at Tinkertown in Winnipeg! A great time was had by all who attended.
UNE Local 40064 held a NPSW event on June 12th at Victoria Park in Regina with a pinata filled with Phoenix IOU’s! Thanks to: Geraldine Linton, OHS Representative; Shaeya Krause, Vice President; Tracy Stevens, President.
Saskatoon & District Area Council Executive worked hard on the United Way Day of Caring on June 11th. They weeded, trimmed bushes & mulched the front and side of the Saskatoon Community Service Village, using 40 bags of mulch to do the work. Thanks to Trudy Turnbull (Area Council VP), Evelyn Jackson (Area Council S/T) and Jackie Nettleton (Area Council President).
I did a whirlwind tour of some Alberta locals in July:
On July 15th, I attended a Solidarity Barbeque with CEIU Local 30851 in Edmonton. 150 members enjoyed a hot dog lunch. Bargaining updates were given as well as discussions on Phoenix.
On July 16th we held a similar event for members at Canada Place where over 600 members came out.
On July 17, I visited the UNDE local at CFB Suffield and CEIU in Medicine Hat delivering a Bargaining/Phoenix update.
On July 18, I joined Locals from the Harry Hays building in Calgary for a Solidarity BBQ. Over 500 hot dogs were served and 157 Respect letters were sent back to the Prime Minister.
PSAC members took part in Labour Day events throughout the Prairies – except in Regina where the annual festivities were rained out!
In Winnipeg, the parade began at the newly constructed art installation that commemorates the 1919 strike, and went to the Legislature where speakers including Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew stressed solidarity and collective action.
Labour Day celebrations in Lethbridge were a huge success, with over 1,000 community members joining the Lethbridge and District Labour Council and its affiliates at Kinsmen Park. This year, the Lethbridge Regional Women's Committee supported two bouncy castles and supervised them during the event. The Lethbridge and District Area Council setup the PSAC Prairies tent and passed out PSAC swag, literature and Cotton Candy. The cotton candy was a huge success bringing all the children (and parents) to our table. We were able to connect with community members on what public services we provide in Lethbridge and how we are still affected by Phoenix.
Members of the Calgary Area Council and Calgary Regional Women’s Committee celebrated Labour Day in Solidarity with Unions across Calgary at the annual Labour Day BBQ. Members of the public could see what federal public servants face every pay day by taking a spin on the Phoenix Wheel of Misfortune. Many federal public servants came down to participate in their Union and celebrate the Labour movement!
Edmonton Area Council activists participated in the annual Labour Day barbecue for the unemployed and under-employed hosted by the Edmonton Labour Council.
Saskatoon Area Council activists participated in the annual Labour Day barbecue in Victoria Park hosted by the Saskatoon & Labour Council.
Westman Area Council set up the bright PSAC tent at the Brandon & District Labour Council BBQ.
I attended the annual Pride march with the Westman Area Council in Brandon. It was a rainy but fun day for all involved.
I was also able to attend the Winnipeg Pride Parade with the Winnipeg and Area Human Rights Committee, who entered a float. Just over 40 PSAC members consisting of LGBTQ2+ and allies, rode the float or marched behind it. The float was quite popular as many non-PSAC members joined to march with us. The Committee also travelled out to Morden, Manitoba later in the same month, for the first ever Pride Parade in that city. Though attendance wasn’t near the Winnipeg Parade, the PSAC was able to make its presence known in the community.
Regina Human Rights participated in the Regina Pride parade and decorated their own car/float for the event. 35 members from various locals including USJE, CEIU, and DCL Regina were in attendance. And on a rainy day in Saskatoon PSAC members marched in the parade alongside other unions.
Lethbridge Pride is an entire month event with the culmination of the Pride Parade on June 22. This year the event was well attended with nearly 30 members from three different components walking in the parade. There were approximately 5,000 people lining the streets leading up to the big party in Galt Gardens. Other events that the Area Council took part in for Pride month included the Lethbridge Pride Flag raising in at City Hall and the Trans March.
With regret, I had to cancel my plans to attend Calgary Pride due to the PA bargaining being called back to the table. Members and their families from PSAC/UNDE joined the AFL float for the 2019 Pride Parade in Calgary. Thousands of people lined the street and marched together in Solidarity.
Prairies Women’s Conference
The PSAC Prairie Region Women’s Conference took place from Friday September 6th Monday September 9th in Regina. Conference participants heard from many guest speakers including Sister Barb Byers, former CLC executive officer, Sister Nicole Saurer, NDP MLA, Sister Lori Johb, President of the SFL and Dodie Ferguson, Regina and District Labour Council executive and indigenous activist. Sister Magali Picard was able to spend a day in conversation with the attendees and provided some good life lessons around women and leadership. Participants debated resolutions for the National Womens Conference and strategized on actions for the 6 RWC’s in the Prairies. Over 40 participants learned from each other, built relationships and planned for the future.
Deer Lodge Centre
PSAC and the Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees (UVAE) have been proud to represent workers at Deer Lodge Centre in Winnipeg for over 40 years.
The “representation votes” forced onto Manitoba health care workers by the Manitoba Government have now concluded and we will no longer represent these workers once the Commissioner issues the new bargaining certificates. This was a sad day for all of us but we have committed to both the Manitoba Nurses Union (MNU) and CUPE that we will work together to ensure a smooth transition for the members. I offer much thanks to the outgoing PSAC Local executive for their dedication to the members at Deer Lodge Centre since the transition to the province in the 90’s
Together with UVAE President, Virginia Vaillancourt and NEVP, Magali Picard, I participated in a press conference on August 8th to highlight the declining level of care for veterans who are residents at Deer Lodge Centre. In response to UVAE’s calls to the VAC Minister to review the service provided to veterans, VAC officials did visit the Centre in August and speak with family members.
In Manitoba, PC Premier Brian Pallister called an early election, having served only 3 and a half years of his four-year term. While he was successful in his re-election bid, the NDP under Wab Kinew gained seats and returned a very diverse caucus to the Manitoba Legislature. PSAC will continue to hold this government to account on behalf of our members under provincial jurisdiction, including at the Universities of Brandon and Winnipeg, the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD) and the Churchill Marine Tank Farm.
In Alberta, the provincial government led by Jason Kenney has signaled an all-out attack on public services with the Mackinnon Report, including cuts to jobs and services and privatization. Even though we do not represent members under provincial jurisdiction in Alberta, we continue to work with the Alberta Federation of Labour to stand up for fairness and quality public services for all Albertans.
Social Justice Fund – Bangladesh Mission
In June, I participated in a mission to Bangladesh accompanied by Sister Louise Casselman and 4 other members from the Steelworkers, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, the CLC and the Quebec International Solidarity Centre.
In a packed itinerary, we met with staff of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity that is funded by Canadians unions, with the Canadian High Commissioner, ILO representatives, Bangladesh Ministry of Labour officials, the President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers Exporters Association and most notably with workers.
Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated since our last visit in February 2016. Over 10,000 workers have been fired (mostly union activists), thousands are on arrest warrants and the government has won its court challenge to have the Accord on Fire and Building Safety ejected from Bangladesh later this year.
It was an honor to be invited into homes of workers to see their living conditions and show them our support and solidarity. A humbling and moving experience that made me very proud of our union for making international solidarity a priority through our small but mighty Social Justice fund staff.
As the AEC officer assigned to the PA and Common Issues bargaining teams, I participated in the bargaining session with TB Aug. 31-Sept. 7th.
A tentative agreement was reached for the Royal Canadian Mint on July 11th. A ratification vote for Winnipeg members is scheduled for Sept. 26th.
Notice to bargain has been issued for the Royal Canadian Mint Protective Services Officers in Winnipeg.
Notice to bargain has been issued for UNDE at Aramark 15 Wing Moose Jaw.
UCTE members at the Regina Airport Authority ratified a new CA on July 22nd.
Request for conciliation has been submitted for the Firefighters unit at the Winnipeg Airport.
Bargaining proposals were exchanged in July with the Saskatoon Airport for the GBU.
Notice to bargain has been issued to CAHRD (Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development). Currently in the process of electing the bargaining team and preparing proposals.
Bargaining continues for the University of Winnipeg Academic Capacity unit. The employer is still under the provincial government wage mandate but progress is being made on non-monetary.
On July 22, DCL members at Casino Regina provided a strike mandate to their bargaining team. The employer indicated a willingness to return to the table. On Sept. 6th, the bargaining team reached a tentative agreement. A ratification is scheduled for Oct. 3rd.
Prairies Regional Executive Vice-President