Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the Prairie Region Council submitted for the January 2014 meeting. This report covers the period from the last PRC meeting.
PSAC Prairies REVP
Report to Prairie Region Council,
ASSAULT ON LABOUR
As part of our fight back against Bill C-4 and the continued attack on labour, we organized a rally outside the 2013 Conservative Party of Canada Policy Convention in Calgary on November 2. More than 20cm of snow didn’t stop hundreds of devoted activists and concerned Canadians from protesting the Conservative’s Convention and their impaired judgment and reckless policies.
Guest speakers included Sister Robyn Benson; Gil McGowan, Alberta Federation of Labour President; Brigette DePape, the Senate page that held up the “Stop Harper!” sign during the 2011 Speech From the Throne; Sheelah McLean, one of the four original co-founders and organizers for Idle No More; Clayton Thomas-Muller, writer and advocate on environmental justice and indigenous rights; Dr. Diane Orihel, freshwater ecologist with Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta; CUPE National President Paul Moist; and Mike Palecek, CUPW National Union Representative. The Raging Grannies performed, as did the drumming circle Sisters from Another Mother. Attendees also enjoyed food from M&M Meats at the post-rally tailgate BBQ, sponsored by Public Service Alliance of Canada Prairie Region, CUPE and UFCW Local 401.
A special thank you to everyone who supported the event and those that braved the blizzard conditions to speak out. I’d like to recognize the Calgary Area Council and Brothers Alec Goertzen, Timothy Hunt and David Fandrich for their contributions to organizing the event. David also delivered a rousing speech on behalf of PSAC at a separate rally on the Thursday evening.
On November 7, the Prairie Region hosted a telephone town hall with thousands of PSAC members across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba about Bill C-4. Our guests on the call, Edith Bramwell, PSAC Representation Coordinator, and Denis St-Jean, PSAC National Health and Safety Officer, joined me to provide information about various aspects of the Bill and answer members’ questions. Members really enjoyed the opportunity to hear more about the legislation and to ask questions. We’ve posted audio from the call and feedback from members on the Prairies website.
YOUNG WORKERS UNITE
Towards the end of 2013, dozens of young workers attended a series of meetings aimed at bringing young workers together to strategize on the establishment of young workers committees. Young workers who attended the six meetings throughout the Prairies were enthusiastic and interested in getting involved, and identified a need for education geared towards young workers. There was also a determination to ensure unions remain a strong voice for workers and that they are able to retire with dignity and security.
Brother Keith Gauthier attended each of these meetings and collected feedback and contact information. We will continue to build a network of young workers, as well as encourage young workers to take courses offered by their regional office to prepare them to grow within the union.
CONFERENCES AND COURSES
Nearly 600 participants, including almost 80 from the Prairie Region, attended the PSAC National Equity Conferences in Toronto, November 18-21. Delegates made a commitment to political action in the fight for human rights and to preserve the right to fair collective bargaining.
The New Union Development Program was announced in October, an advanced learning opportunity for emerging leaders. However, faced with serious threats to unions in Canada, most recently Bill C-4, the AEC had to assess and realign our membership and staff resources to fight these attacks. As a result, we are postponing the implementation of the 2014 UDP. The UDP will run again in January 2015. We received more than 30 applications for six Prairies UDP spots.
Regional Offices in the Prairies are currently developing education schedules for 2014 and specific course dates will be posted to the website as they become available. Some of the plans include Alliance Facilitator Training, mini union schools, convention prep, and Prairies Union School. For more information on what’s to come, visit the Prairies website.
In the past several months we ratified collective agreements with Aramark Canada Ltd. – 15 Wing Moose Jaw, University of Winnipeg, and Hudson Bay Port Company (Churchill). A tentative agreement was reached with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights (Winnipeg) in December and a ratification meeting is scheduled for the end of January.
We are currently in negotiations with Regina Airport Authority, and are set to begin bargaining with Pro-Tec Fire Services of Canada (Saskatoon Airport FR), Prince Rupert Airport Society and Royal Canadian Mint in February.
We also have a newly organized unit with 35 members who work as Protective Services Officers at the Winnipeg Royal Canadian Mint facility. Notice to bargain has been issued and an information meeting was held for new members, along with an inaugural AGM in December. A bargaining team has been elected and the first team meeting is scheduled for late January.
CHANGES TO COUNCIL
There have been a few changes to the PRC since our last meeting. In November, Brother Clint Wirth was the successful candidate for the health & safety rep in the PSAC Winnipeg Regional Office. In December, Keith was the successful candidate for the administrative assistant position in the PSAC Regina Regional Office.
We ran elections for both of these positions. Brother Gus Mardli was the successful nominee for the Southeast Manitoba Rep. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive any nominations for Young Workers Rep, so that position will remain vacant until the Prairie Region Triennial Convention.
I’d like to thank Keith and Clint for their contributions to the Prairie Region Council and wish them all the best in their new staff positions. I’d also like to welcome Gus to the Prairie Region Council. He has been active with the Winnipeg Area Council and I know he will bring that same enthusiasm to the PRC.
We are continuing to release videos from the Prairies Video Project at varying intervals. Our last release was about sick leave, and future releases include a look at Idle No More, experiences of GLBT members and grievance handling.
The 6th Triennial Convention of the PSAC Prairie Region will be held in Saskatoon, beginning Friday, June 27, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. and concluding Sunday, June 29, 2014 at 12:30 p.m. Deadline to register by, in order to receive a subsidy, is February 12, 2014.
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies