This report covers the period from the last PRC meeting.
As the government fails to make any significant progress on fixing the Phoenix pay system, Prairies members have taken action to demand a pay system that works along with damages and an end to overpayment clawbacks particularly insisting members pay back more than they received.
In August, following a worksite tour at Sask Penitentiary in Prince Albert, I met with members of USJE 40023to discuss Phoenix. It was also discussed with the Prince Albert Area Council later that day.
After spending Labour Day with the Edmonton & District Area Council, I joined members at the Delta Hotel when we learned Prime Minister Trudeau would be attending a party fundraiser. Many thanks to the members who came out with very short notice. Between the t-shirts and the whistles and chanting, our message was received loud and clear.
The following week, Prime Minister Trudeau was in Winnipeg for announcements and an evening party fundraiser. Less than a week after the Edmonton rally, Winnipeg members and staff were front and centre of the Fort Garry Hotel. Even though the PM went through a side door, we were able to get around the side with plenty of time for him to see … and hear… us.
On a chilly Sept. morning in Regina from 6 am to 9 am, I joined many PSAC members in Regina at the corner of Arcola and Victoria. As morning rush hour traffic went by, we got many honks of support and excellent media coverage including one TV station that phoned Minister Ralph Goodale for comment.
On Oct. 24th, I joined USJE 40008 for a morning information picket on Dewdney St. in Regina. Many thanks to the members who braved a very… very… chilly morning.
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” will be processed on Nov. 14th. Full details on how refunds and arrears will be processed can be found on the national website.
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.
On the heart-breaking final week for employees of the Vegreville Case Processing Centre (CPC), we won an important but bittersweet victory for our members.
On June 28, 2017 PSAC filed a Policy Grievance on behalf of members working at the Vegreville CPC. The Policy Grievance was filed because the Department of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) told employees that if they did not want to relocate to Edmonton as a result of the impending closure of the Vegreville CPC, there would be no compensation package and that employees must move with their position or be laid off, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s clear public commitment to the contrary. On August 29, 2018, The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board ruled in favour of the PSAC and its members.
PSAC believes that the information given out by the department was wrong and that even those who said “yes” to the relocation prior to October 2017 should get a chance to change their mind. The choices made by the members at Vegreville were compromised by the information given out by the department.
PSAC and CEIU stand strong in our belief that the Vegreville CPC closure is not the right decision for our members, the community of Vegreville, or the Canadians these employees serve every day. This victory is bittersweet, but we hope that it will allow our members to plan for their future in a way that ensures their employment rights are respected.
This victory would not have been possible without the testimony of our members, and the support of everyone who fought to Respect Vegreville.
PSAC members working at the Casino Regina, and other union members around the province, have received mixed messages and misinformation from this Saskatchewan Party government. It’s time to get back to the table and negotiate fair contracts for all workers in the province. I was able to join members from Local 40005 for an informational picket outside Casino on June 7th. We handed out leaflets and cookies to spread the message that our members deserve a “fair deal” from this government.
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 with a wage cut and they advised their mandate from the government has not changed.
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
PSAC and UVAE members and their supporters gathered Wednesday, July 4 at Deer Lodge Centre in Winnipeg to protest the Pallister government’s Bill 29 and stand up for quality care for our veterans. Deer Lodge Centre is the largest rehabilitation and long term care facility in Manitoba, focused on providing care to Canada’s veterans.
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.
Alberta’s Bill 30 – An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans – was passed in December 2017, and takes effect June 1, 2018. As part of the consultation process on the implementation of this Act, PSAC – Prairie Region submitted recommendations in regards to harassment and violence in the workplace and the establishment, training requirements and operations of the joint committees in the workplace.
The Government of Manitoba has initiated a review of the Pension Benefits Act in Manitoba. We have presented the government with a submission in this regards. PSAC stands in favour of strong pensions that protect not only our members under federal and provincial legislation, but all workers.
The Government of Saskatchewan’s 2017 wage mandate of a 3.5% wage cut was a topic of discussion at an SFL All Public Service Unions meeting. To date, no union has accepted the wage cut and there was consensus that we continue to push back on this mandate.
Regional Bargaining Updates
Negotiations are ongoing at the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development in Winnipeg. Bargaining is set to resume in late September.
The Royal Canadian Mint – Winnipeg Protective Services Officers bargaining team is in place. The Plant Group at the Mint has exchanged proposals with the employer with bargaining to take place October.
The collective agreement at Regina Airport expired on June 30. Our bargaining team is working on proposals.
A collective agreement has been reached at the Calgary Airport.
A collective agreement has also been reach for the the Security Resource Group at the Winnipeg Airport.
Post Doctorate workers at the University of Saskatchewan have conciliation dates set for late September.
First contract negotiations for the Research Associates/Assistants Unit is underway at the University of Winnipeg, and the Academic Capacity Unit is in negotiations for its second contract.
With the aim of building density and increasing the bargaining power of our existing PSAC local at the University of Winnipeg, a new campaign has been approved in support of Postdoctoral Fellows joining our Research Associate bargaining unit. Card signing recently secured unanimous support for unionization. Local counsel is currently pursuing a Memorandum of Agreement in preparation for joint applications to seek certification and amend the existing Research Associate certificate to include Postdoctoral Fellows.
Following our recent success with veterinary interns and residents that will join our Graduate Student Employees bargaining unit at the University of Saskatchewan, a new campaign has been approved in support of Research Associates joining the existing PSAC local. We aim for a similar process that promotes bargaining strength, efficiency and cost savings. Card signing is ongoing.
PSAC has launched a national television ad campaign to highlight the dedication of public service workers throughout the Phoenix pay system disaster, which has now been going on for two and a half years. Despite missed paycheques, fending off debt collectors, and managing endless uncertainty, PSAC members have continued to be show up and serve their fellow citizens. The name of the campaign is Here for Canada.
Part of the campaign is an online video which features testimonials of the damage caused by Phoenix. important to share their stories and ensure that everyone knows about the toll it has taken on people’s lives. Thank you to Sister Shannon Blum for your participation in these videos.
Bargaining teams representing nearly 90,000 federal public service workers were at the bargaining table with Treasury Board (TB) on October 16-17. We remain disappointed by the continued lack of response and meaningful engagement by TB negotiators at the table. Similar to PSAC’s experience at the common issues bargaining session on October 10-11, government representatives did not engage substantially with PSAC’s various proposals, and also did not bother to offer counter proposals.
The teams all proposed economic increases of 3.75% per year for the 2018-2020 period. In addition, each team presented wage adjustments and allowances, as well as other proposals at their specific tables. All of the union proposals and the employer proposals can be found on the national PSAC website.
Other Regional Updates
On August 28th, I was invited to attend a consultation regarding a national Pharmacare program sponsored by the Commission established by the federal government. It was unfortunate that only 30 Manitobans wee able to consult in person and it was by invitation only. A pharmacare program is achievable and it will take some political work to ensure that the system works for all Canadians.
I was able to spend some time in the North Sask. Region in August and was fortunate to do a worksite visit with USJE Local 40023 and to meet with the Prince Albert Area Council.
In September, the Edmonton Regional Office hosted a meet and greet for members to come out and ask me any questions they may have. Thanks to our Edmonton PRC reps, Stasi and Dragana for also arranging a 2 hour meet and greet in the food court of Canada Place. Members of many locals came down for a coffee and muffin and asked many questions about
their union. This was followed by a worksite visit of UTE 30025 and a walk through the new office space for CEIU 30876 (formerly in Vegreville).
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. 14-16th, the NBOD participated in a retreat to discuss items such as updating our last cycle’s strategic plan and to continue to develop our plans for the next federal election.
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 Oct. 19-21st in Saskatoon. Participants heard from PSAC’s Privatization and Contracting Out Officer, Michelle Girash, Negotiators Seth Sezant and Tom Milne, Organizer Ted Klassen and G&A 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.
While the calendar gets full these days, I will be trying where possible to spend some extra days in the region for worksite visits or other activities. Please feel free to contact my office to check my availability for membership meetings, worksite visits, events, rallies, etc.