This report covers the period from the last PRC meeting in December 2020.
Sisters, Brothers and friends,
We have had quite the year, but I think we have a lot to be proud of as a union. We faced several challenges – both internally and externally – and we made mistakes. Instead of throwing up our hand and saying the problems are too big to address or digging into the status quo, we adapted to unfamiliar situations and incorporated new information into how we do things. There is still significant learning and change to come and we still face a lot of uncertainty as we go about our day-to-day lives and as we plan for the future. However, if we continue to respond to with an open mind and a willingness to do the hard work, I believe it will only make us stronger as a union.
Virtual Platform Working Group
There has been a lot of work put in to preparing to move the regional conventions online. There has been many, many meetings to confirm the virtual convention process and to ensure consistency amongst the regions.
Meeting with MP Bezan, CPC Defence Critic, on Uncover the Costs Campaign
In November, information on the Uncover the Cost campaign was sent to every MP in the Prairies. A meeting was also requested with MP Bezan as a Manitoba MP and Official Opposition Defence Critic. Mona Simcoe, UNDE Vice-President for Manitoba/Saskatchewan, joined the meeting. There was a significant amount of support for the campaign’s recommendations. MP Bezan also committed to speaking with NDP Defence Critic Randall Garrison on the campaign to identify any mutual ground. The Uncover the Costs campaign creates a delicate balance for conservative MPs as they must be seen supporting the military however the party is pro-privatization. There was a commitment to schedule a follow-up meeting in the new year.
Dec 6, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
In December, the state of COVID-19 in Manitoba prevented us from coming together for this Day of Remembrance. To recognize December 6 while following public health directives, the Manitoba Federation of Labour hosted a virtual memorial on the Friday before December 6. Unions and community partners across the province came together virtually to remember and mourn the fourteen women who were killed by misogyny at l’Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal as well as women who have been killed in Manitoba over the last year. The Alberta Federation of Labour and the Calgary and District Labour Council hosted similar virtual events on December 6.
Dec 10, International Human Rights Day Virtual Event
The Winnipeg Human Rights Committee hosted a virtual event on International Human Rights Day that featured Larry Rousseau, CLC Executive Vice-President, Neha Channan, PSAC Prairies Representative for Racially Visible Members, Marianne Hladun, Regional Executive Vice-President, PSAC Prairies, and Michael Bueckert, Vice-President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).
COVID During the Holidays Webinar
In recognizing that the holidays are tough for many people, particular this past holiday season which prevented many across the country from getting together with their loved ones, a special interactive webinar was hosted to discuss mental health. The webinar included a guest presenter, Dr. Leigh Quesnel, Director of HQS Clinical Services, to guide the discussion. During the webinar, Dr. Quesnel checked in with participants, explored challenges in maintaining proper mental health, and provided tips and resources for those in need.
Regular Communications with Regional Committees, PRC and National Officers
In keeping with Regulation 4 of the Prairie Bylaws, I held meetings as follows:
- January 12/21 with the Regional Health and Safety Committee
- January 14/21 with PRC AC Reps, AC executive members and PRC Geographic Reps
- January 19/21 with the PRC RWC Rep and RWC executive members
- January 21/21 with PRC Equity Reps and HRC/RIPC executive members
- The meeting for January 26/21 with the PRC YW Rep and YWC executives did not take place as there are currently no active YWC’s.
- February 4/21 update with Prairies National Officers
- February 10/21 follow up with PRC AC Reps, AC executive members, PRC Geographic Reps and PSAC staff assigned to AC’s
- February 23/21 follow up with PRC RWC Rep, RWC executive members and PSAC staff assigned to RWC’s
- Follow up for PRC Equity Reps, HRC/RIPC executive members and PSAC staff assigned to HRC/RIPC is scheduled for March 4/21
UNDE Campaign – Uncover the Costs
UNDE Locals in Manitoba participated in actions outside bases in Winnipeg and Shilo. A webinar originally scheduled for UNDE members and Area Council executives will be re-scheduled this spring.
Development of Food Security Campaign
Following a motion from the last PSAC National Convention to develop a campaign that tackles food insecurity in the North, PSAC Prairies is working together with regional offices in Ontario and the North along with the national office on the development of the campaign. There is no firm deadline of when the campaign will launch at this time.
Make Revera Public! A Virtual Town Hall
On December 2, PSAC Prairies partnered with the Manitoba Health Coalition to host a virtual town hall to discuss PSAC’s Make Revera Public campaign and hear directly from staff and family members affected by the consequences of private, for-profit long-term care homes like the ones owned by Revera, Inc.
In Manitoba there have been two particularly egregious examples of the consequences of private, for-profit care. As of November 30, 2020, at least 382 residents and staff have been infected with COVID-19 at Revera homes, including Parkview Place and Maples. At least 69 residents have died. There is no room for profit in long-term care.
PSAC members are in a unique position to help and take action because most PSAC members contribute to the Public Service Pension (PSP) plan through their federal government pension contributions. PSP Investments is the sole owner of Revera, Inc. which is the second largest owner and operator of private, for-profit long-term care homes in the country.
There is currently a letter to the federal government that PSAC members and non-members can sign. The next step up the ladder of engagement is calling their Member of Parliament. We will also be following up with Area Councils to determine next steps.
Membership Survey and Provincial Leaflets
In November and the beginning of December, leaflets were mailed out to members in each province with information on region-specific issues and the current CLC campaign as well as details of the online membership survey that will be available for members to complete until January 15, 2021. The pandemic has forced us to rethink the way that we support members. The Prairie region wanted to hear directly from members on how we can best do that given there will not be a quick end to our COVID-19 reality. The survey focuses on 7 areas of interest including communications, Prairies webinars, young workers, Prairies education, connecting with the union, taking action on our priorities, and member demographic information.
COVID-19 Membership Impact
Due to public health orders, Casino Regina had to close to the public. All members were laid off except for maintenance and security staff. In the fall, the Casino re-opened with limitations and some members are temporarily working as security to ensure that health orders are observed. In early October, a restricted number of table games were allowed to open which allowed more members to return to work. Due to the current wave, the Casino was forced to once again completely close in accordance with public health orders and re-opening will be dependent on public health orders.
The impact of COVID has been significantly felt with our airport members. Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, and Winnipeg airports have all had layoffs both temporary and permanent. The Regina airport, Protec (firefighters at Saskatoon airport) and Winnipeg airport have recalled some members.
At the start of COVID, our academic members moved to virtual work and were able to complete their terms. The impact was increased in the fall term and continued into the winter term because there were less contracts as the universities moved to a primarily virtual model. We continue to push for health and safety protections for our members and find ways to connect with members now that some may not even be physically in the same city.
A webinar was held on February 8/21 for DCL members employed at CAHRD (Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development) to discuss priorities in this current round of bargaining and how members can show support for the team.
Alberta Academic Sector Organizing
With the change to legislation in Alberta, academic workers will be able to officially organize into unions effective 2022. Through a term organizer hired to work specifically on this campaign in Alberta, we have reached out to associations to discuss interim service agreements and the possibility of membership in PSAC in 2022. We have received a positive response from many groups and are preparing presentations for discussions.
Regional Committees and Area Councils
As one positive of regional committees and area councils moving to virtual meetings, I have been able to participate in many more regional committee and area councils meetings.
The TB national bargaining conference for PA, SV, TC and EB units is scheduled for April 26-30/21 on the same virtual platform that will be used for regional conventions. As the AEC Officer assigned to the PA table, I will be participating and chairing the PA portion of the agenda including elections of bargaining team members.
Parks will be holding their virtual bargaining conference on May 31 – June 2/21 and the CFIA virtual bargaining conference will be on June 8-10/21.
Regional Bargaining Units
Notice to Bargain has been issued and proposals are being finalized for Research Associates at the University of Saskatchewan seeking their first collective agreement. Negotiations for Post-doctoral fellows will commence after the Research Associates reach a tentative agreement or apply for arbitration.
Proposals are being finalized for English Language Program members at the University of Winnipeg.
We are awaiting dates from the employer at Brandon University to commence negotiations.
Negotiations are ongoing for UHEW members at the All Nations’ Healing Hospital in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask.
Following an exceptionally long and difficult round, UCTE members at the Port of Churchill have ratified a tentative agreement with the new owners, Arctic Gateway. Members at the Churchill Marine Tank Farm have also ratified a tentative agreement.
A tentative agreement has been ratified for the Royal Canadian Mint Protective Services Officers (GSU) in Winnipeg.
Bargaining is ongoing with CAHRD in Winnipeg (DCL Local at the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development).
A tentative agreement has been ratified by UHEW members at Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation and the employer has now issued a notice to bargain.
Negotiations continue at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
A tentative agreement has been ratified for the Fire Captain at the Edmonton International Airport.
In addition to regular negotiations, we have been working with employers to clarify our interpretation of collective agreements and/or negotiating letters of understanding.
Lastly, you will find enclosed the details of the REVP’s activities from November 2020 to February 2021.
Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies