PSAC members showed Union Pride, Saskatoon Wide as the 6th Triennial Prairie Region Convention took over the “City of Bridges” June 27-29, 2014. More than 320 people attended the three-day event, including 268 delegates, 32 observers, 11 NBoD and 11 guests. View photos from the entire weekend on the PSAC Prairies Facebook page.
Speeches & Special Messages
Delegates heard greetings and special messages from Kelly Harrington, Saskatoon & District Labour Council President; Larry Hubich, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President; and Barb Byers, Canadian Labour Congress Secretary-Treasurer.
Robyn Benson also returned home to the Prairies and in her address she advocated for a strong union, mobilized membership, and fair and decent collective agreements. She also stressed the importance of continuing to fight the Conservative agenda and replacing it with one that meets the needs of all Canadians.
“The rights that we have won through years and years of mobilization, legal action and sheer determination are being stripped away,” she warned. “Pay equity. Employment equity. Fair wages. Pensions. Health benefits. Social security. They are all under attack. It’s our job to turn things around, not just for ourselves and our families but for all the generations of workers to come.”
Regional Executive Vice-President Marianne Hladun also addressed delegates, sharing some of the highlights and successes from the past three years in the Prairie Region. She also echoed Benson’s sentiment about solidarity and strength during these challenging political times.
“We’ve certainly come a long way with the work we’ve done to mobilize members and build capacity, but there’s more work to do,” she announced. “Union members are fed up, Canadians have had enough, and we’re all ready to fight back together. It’s all hands on deck at this point. Let’s continue to build on the momentum and keep moving forward.”
Throughout Convention, delegates were also treated to clips and previews of the award-winning Prairies Video Project. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive and the videos helped to strengthen and promote the 2014 Convention theme of “Our Union: Bringing Us Together.”
There was much debate and discussion on the floor as delegates made their way through the 30+ resolutions with concurrence recommendations from Convention Committees.
- Electronic Voting for Ratification Votes (FIN-006A)
One of the first resolutions to pass was FIN-006A. The resolution calls on the PSAC to make electronic voting available for all ratification votes as another option/alternative form of voting to supplement the traditional paper ballot.
From April 24 to June 4, 2014, PSAC members working for CFIA were among the first to use this technology to vote on their tentative agreement with live and interactive webinars held over several days and time zones to accommodate all members. Select in-person meetings were also available as an alternative.
Mike Vanson, Regional Vice-President for Agriculture Union, Northern Alberta and the NWT, tested out the electronic voting with CFIA and voted in favour of the resolution at Convention based on his positive experience.
“There were so many opportunities for members to go and to listen over the phone,” he explained. “You had upward of a dozen times that you could participate in and you didn’t have to listen in your own time zone. You also don’t have to vote right away, which gives people time to think and ask questions.”
Vanson believes this is a positive step forward and will assist members from other bargaining units in the future. The resolution will be forwarded to the 2015 PSAC National Triennial Convention for costing and consideration of delegates.
- Prairie Region Triennial Convention Locations (BL-015)
Resolution BL-015 called for the Prairie Region Council (PRC) to make every effort to ensure that the Regional Convention rotates through the three provinces of the Prairie Region. This has been past practice, but was never entrenched in the PSAC Prairie Region By-Laws.
David Fandrich, former PRC Representative, voted in favour of this resolution. He believes this will improve access to Convention for all members.
“Wherever the Convention is hosted, Locals from the host province typically send more observers and delegates. That's why it’s important to rotate the Convention to ensure each province has a chance to fully engage their Locals, and get activists involved.”
The by-laws will be amended to include this addition and the next Prairie Region Convention is set to be held in Alberta in 2017.
- Removal of Barriers for Members with Disabilities (GEN-013)
Delegates also passed GEN-013, which calls on PSAC to ensure that a review of facilities used for local, regional and national events is completed by a designated member of the Members With Disabilities (MWD) Working Group or regional representative well in advance of booking.
Kim Haynes, Persons With Disabilities Representative on the PRC, voted in favour of this resolution and is pleased that it will advance to the PSAC National Triennial Convention.
“With this resolution in place, there would be an onus on the organizers and the MWD Working Group to ensure that the facilities can accommodate all members with disabilities. This can be done at little to no cost to PSAC and will greatly improve access to events for all members.”
The resolution will be forwarded to the 2015 PSAC National Triennial Convention for costing and consideration of delegates.
- Child Care Provider (GEN-002)
Some of the most passionate debate was heard during GEN-002, which calls on PSAC to remove the barrier caused by the current Family Care Allowance Policy by amending the definition of a family care provider to be any person who provides this care with a receipt.
The resolution states the PSAC does allow payment for family care allowance with receipt, but does not allow reimbursement of care costs associated with family care provided by a relative in the same home.
Sherry Hunt, Southern Alberta Geographical Representative on the PRC and devoted child care advocate, worked with sisters from the Lethbridge Regional Women’s Committee to submit this resolution.
“We see it as a case of discrimination based on where you live,” Hunt explains. “If your mother is not living with you, you could pay her. The real issue is that this is a loss for members and their families, whether financial or time.”
The original resolution was referred back to Committee for amendment and eventually tabled. However, the same resolution passed at the PSAC National Equity Conferences and the PSAC Prairies Women’s Conference and will advance to the 2015 PSAC National Triennial Convention.
The resolution aims to recognize multi-generational and extended family households and compensate family member caregivers fairly. Hunt believes if this resolution passed it could save the union money and encourage more women and families to get involved with their union. She is optimistic about the resolutions future.
“We’re going to keep campaigning on child care issues and building momentum. I think with the Rethink Child Care campaign that PSAC has already endorsed, these issues will become a lot more clear and important for people. When we get to Triennial it will be a clear priority for members.”
Delegates debated and voted on all resolutions with concurrence recommendations from Convention Committees, with the exception of four concurrence resolutions in the General Resolutions package. These resolutions will be debated and voted on by the Prairie Region Council at the first PRC meeting following Convention on Sepember 22, 2014 in Regina.
Delegates passed Resolution BL-003 “Electronic voting at Prairie Region Convention” which called for an immediate change to the by-laws to allow for electronic voting for REVP and Alternate REVP.
Marianne Hladun was elected Prairies Regional Executive Vice-President. She previously served for two years as REVP after Robyn Benson, former Prairies REVP, was elected PSAC National President at the PSAC 16th National Triennial Convention on May 4, 2012 in Ottawa.
Susan Norman was elected Alternate REVP. She previously served as Westman Area Council Representative on the PRC for two consecutive terms and had been re-elected to the position prior to Convention. Her Alternate Glen Johnston assumed her position and Susan was sworn in as Alternate REVP.
Additionally, Resolution BL-017 “2nd Alternate for PRC Positions” was also passed which allowed for the nomination and election of a 2nd Alternate for all PRC positions, other than REVP and Alternate REVP, for the first time. Convention delegates passed the resolution and 2nd Alternates were elected and sworn in alongside Reps and Alternates.
Read the complete list of elections results and meet your new Prairie Region Council for the 2014-2017 term.
Prairie Voice Awards
The Prairie Voice Awards were created to recognize and salute the tireless work our members do every day in their locals, their committees or councils, and their communities. It’s a way for us to say thank you to our sisters and brothers for their commitment to the labour movement and their efforts to make our union stronger. They are presented every three years at Convention.
This year, we recognized members in seven different categories. The winners at the 2014 Prairie Region Triennial Convention were: Tamara Wilton (Steward of the Year), Timothy Hunt (Human Rights), Brea Lewis (Labour Award), Todd Panas (Leadership,) Nancy Johnson (Mentor), Nancy Johnson (Political Action) and Hycinth Jayasuriya (Community Outreach).
Learn more about the Prairie Voice Awards and the 2014 winners.
Standing Together for Public Services
This government has cut billions of dollars from public services and thousands of federal government jobs. These cuts are putting public services and public safety on the line. Harper’s shameful record is a resounding failure.
Delegates were all given a flyer about Conservative cuts and watched a two-minute video featuring PSAC members shining a light on cuts to public services. Then they stood together in solidarity to denounce public service cuts by proudly holding up signs that state "Standing Together for Public Services / Standing Together for Fairness".
Delegates sent a strong message to the government that we are united, ready and committed to defending public services, our collective agreements, and our working conditions.
An album of photos from this action has been posted to the PSAC Prairies Facebook page. Locals and members are encouraged to contact their local PSAC regional office to request posters and stand together with us.