Regional Executive Vice-President
Prairie Region Council November 2019
This report covers the period from the last PRC meeting in May.
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).
In July, I did a whirlwind tour of some Alberta locals:
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 several worksites of the UNDE local at CFB Suffield and met with CEIU members in Medicine Hat to deliver 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 to 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 Women’s 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.
Prairies Racially Visible Conference
The Prairies Racially Visible Conference took place in Calgary from Friday, November 1st to Monday November 4th. 40 Prairies members gathered to share experiences and continue to build on a racially visible network that started in 2016 at our first conference. I attended the conference on Friday November 1st to open the conference and called in by phone for the closing on Monday. Special guests included Mayor Naheed Nenshi who not only spoke but took time to engage in conversation with the participants. Sister Magali Picard, PSAC National Executive Vice President attended on Monday to close the conference and express a commitment on behalf of PSAC leadership to issues of priority for racially visible members.
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.
PSAC members were active in the Prairies getting the word out to support candidates who support public services. We respect that every member has the right to their own political choices. So thank you to every member who voted – whoever you voted for. Your participation strengthens our democracy.
We hosted a Telephone Town Hall on October 17th. This was a great opportunity for the 70% of members who had not yet voted to learn about the platforms of the parties – the Conservative Party, for instance, had just recently released its platform. It was a very lively conversation with members coming from a lot of different perspectives, which is to be expected in a diverse region like the Prairies!
We also hosted two Election Forums, produced a mailer that went to all households which was made possible by volunteer labour by our members, and membership-led activities like the Harry Hays Dunk a Donut event in Calgary. In Lethbridge the Area Council worked in partnership with community organizations to help organize two information sessions, open to everyone in the community, in an attempt to empower individuals to vote and worked with a local shelter to assist residents to get to the polls.
Thank you to everyone who helped to volunteer in our election activities.
PSAC is cautiously optimistic that the result of the election – a Liberal minority government – may see progress on bargaining and Phoenix, as well as other priorities important to our members from coast to coast to coast. We will keep the pressure up on the Liberal government to deliver for our members.
Staff and Committee Meetings
From late October through early November I participated in Financial Training and Strategy discussions with staff and committee members throughout the Prairie Region. These sessions went very well, as we gained a better understanding of the roles and requirements in our union structure, as well as the challenges we face collectively. I came out of these meetings with a reinvigorated sense of the great work done by our staff and our activists – and a whole host of ideas on how we can work better together for the good of our members.
Calgary Phoenix Pay It Forward
In October, PSAC Calgary Area Council hosted a Food Drive in support of our members affected by the Phoenix pay system in the past. They collect 100 pounds of of food and $1500 from members, which the Area Council topped up with $200. For every $1 received, the Calgary Food Bank turns that into $5 to a recipient, for a total impact of $7500.
Well done to everyone in the Calgary Area Council for working to Pay it Forward in your community.
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. While it was unfortunate that Treasury Board walked away from the table, PA team members willingly cancelled Labour Day plans to give one last try for a tentative agreement before the federal election.
A tentative agreement was reached for the Royal Canadian Mint on July 11th. Members ratified the tentative agreement on 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. On November 6th, a tentative agreement was reached and a ratification vote is scheduled for Nov. 14th.
Notice to bargain has been issued to CAHRD (Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development). The local is currently in the process of electing the bargaining team and preparing proposals.
A tentative agreement was reached for the University of Winnipeg Academic Capacity unit. A ratification vote is scheduled for late November.
We reached a collective agreement with SaskGaming for gaming workers at Casino Regina which was ratified by the members. The new collective agreement includes a 4.5 percent salary increase over the 5 years of the contract which will expire December 31, 2021. The new agreement also provides a .05 per cent increase to the pension plan (matched by the employer), improvements to the Attendance Management system, new provisions for Religious and Cultural Traditions and Compassionate Leave and an increase for both Bereavement Leave and Family Responsibility Leave from three days to four.
Bargaining for PSAC/UNDE members at Sodexho in Moose Jaw is scheduled for November 12th with an exchange of proposals.
Prairies Regional Executive Vice-President