PRC Report (Sept. 2010)


Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the Prairie Region Council submitted for the September 2010 meeting. This report covers the period from the last PRC meeting.

Report of the Regional Executive Vice President – Prairies

to the Prairie Region Council
September 2010

As we all know, summer is usually a slower time for PSAC, as many of our members and staff take a much deserved summer holiday. This summer, however, was an exception, due to the Casino Regina Strike that lasted more than seven weeks and consumed much of our time and focus.

On June 3, 2010, following a strike vote result of 97.4 per cent vote in favour of taking strike action, 425 PSAC members at Casino Regina walked out, joined by hundreds more RWDSU members who refused to cross the picket line. Our Union had been in negotiations with the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation (SGC) since September 2009 and our members were without a contract since May 31, 2009. The strike lasted 53 days and ended on July 27, 2010.

During that time, I spent many days on the picket line with Sisters Pat Davis and Lisa Garnier, walking with the members and getting to know them and their families. It only confirmed for me that our Prairie members are hardworking, diverse and incredible people. I think the members realized this, as well, and the seven weeks on the picket line only brought them closer together as both coworkers and Brothers and Sisters.

One of the highlights from the strike was the rally at the Legislative Building, which brought out hundreds of supporters from other unions to show their support. We also received a visit from Paul Moist, CUPE National President, who spoke to the members and offered words of encouragement and praise, before announcing their generous $20,000 donation to the striking Casino workers (PSAC and RWDSU members). CUPE’s donation was only one of countless received from friends, family, members of the public and Casino patrons.

There was, without a doubt, an outpouring of support from the community for the Casino workers and their battle. After seven weeks, we reached an agreement with SGC and our members returned to work with a new collective agreement that includes improved wages and benefits, mention of family leave and weekday night shift premiums.

Throughout the strike, our ongoing Fightback! Campaign continued. I attended several meetings and events over the last few months to speak with members about fighting cuts and reductions to public service and the importance of enforcing our job security in collective agreements.

I was also lucky enough to participate in several events this summer that promote equal opportunities for all members.

On June 4-6 I attended the 2010 PSAC National Access Conference in Ottawa, under the theme “Let’s focus on our abilities!” The conference aimed to empower and engage persons with disabilities to take action and move disabilities rights forward, including through lobbying.

Later that month, I spoke at the UTE Equal Opportunities Conference on June 18 in Ottawa. I discussed the anti-worker, anti-human rights agenda of this government and how imperative it is that we mobilize and defend the rights of our members and their communities.

At the Maritimes Women’s Conference on June 25-27 in Antigonish, under the theme “Atlantic Women Rock — Boulder and Stronger”, I spoke about the ongoing challenges Sisters are facing with the Harper government’s ideologically driven intimidation tactics of cutting funding to women’s groups and programming and shutting down human rights commission offices. Sisters signed a greeting card with messages of solidarity and support for the striking workers of Casino Regina. They also posed for a picture holding signs that spelled out “SOLIDARITY”.

On August 14, I was invited to attend the National Component Human Rights Conference in Saskatoon as a guest speaker. I discussed much of the same topics covered at the Equal Opportunities Conference in June and reinforced that we need to find better ways for all of us to work together to build a stronger union and a better world.

In the next few weeks, Saskatoon will host our Prairies Regional Women’s Conference on September 10-12 under the theme “Putting Our Passion into Action”. Sisters in attendance can expect some wonderful guest speakers and a very exciting planned action.

With the busy summer behind us, we are now looking ahead to plans for the 2011 Prairies Region Convention. Several unexpected difficulties had arisen that finally forced us to make the decision to move Convention from Regina back to Winnipeg at the Fairmont Winnipeg, a hotel we have the utmost confidence in and one that previously facilitated our Regional Convention. This will no doubt make for a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for everyone.

In Solidarity,

Robyn Benson