This reporting covers the period from the last PRC meeting in February. Sisters, Brothers and friends,
This continues to be an unusual time and I know we are all adjusting to this new COVID reality. It’s been very challenging for me not to be able to interact with members in person. I never thought that we would be running ratification votes for a potential 19,000 members all online. I also never thought that we would have to cancel our typical Labour Day activities because they go against basically every public health order.
This time has been even more trying because the Prairies are going through some significant challenges. In Manitoba, we have a premier who has been asleep at the wheel throughout the pandemic. The few times Pallister has taken action, it was to attempt to buy seniors’ votes with direct cash payments, threaten Manitoba’s public sector and universities with layoffs and significant cuts, respectively, and shame low- wage workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic shutdowns for accessing CERB. Recently, after skyrocketing COVID-19 cases and becoming the province with the most cases per capita, Manitoba’s government finally took action and applied some of the most strict public health orders in the country. Manitobans are still waiting to see the effect of those measures.
In Saskatchewan, we have government that is so apathetic to the concerns of parents, teachers and school administrators they waited until the start of classes to announce additional funding to support schools adjust to the pandemic and compared substitute teachers to yoga mats as things that weren’t budgetary priorities at the moment. Following the provincial election in October, we still don’t have any assurances on the future of our crown corporations – where PSAC represents members – are being threatened. Saskatchewan, like the other Prairie provinces, is facing some of the highest rates of COVID-19 cases per capita in the country. Despite that, the provincial government has been slow to act and is leaving Saskatchewanians with more questions than answers.
In Alberta, contempt is the word that most accurately describes the government’s attitude towards working people and public services. Kenney’s UCP government is criminalising dissent with Bill 1; waging war on Alberta’s labour movement, devaluing young workers with their new, lower youth minimum wage, enabling employers to have exemptions from minimum labour standards, and is essentially putting an end to overtime pay with Bill 32. The UCP government also had the gall to attack Alberta’s health care professionals and put forward Bill 30, a piece of legislation that opens the door to privatization of Alberta’s healthcare system in the middle of a pandemic. With Bill 47, Kenney and his government are weakening workers compensation on the backs of injured workers.
This is all on top of government health policy that is more focused on supporting businesses in the province than the health and safety of Albertans. Currently, bars, restaurants, and casinos are still open, even when Alberta is reporting more active COVID-19 cases than Ontario – a province three times the population of Alberta. I’m genuinely scared for Albertans as the government puts plans in place for field hospitals before considering further community restrictions.
Throughout our unstable realities, the pandemic hasn’t stopped the work, only shifted the way that we must respond.
On January 16 & 17, 2020, as the AEC officer assigned to the PA and Common Issues teams, I participated in the PA PIC Mediation session. A frustrating two days of waiting but it couldn’t be said that the team wasn’t ready and available for negotiating.
As many units were in the process of strike votes or preparing for the beginning of strike votes, I attended several events including a UNE Alberta initiative for Parks locals to start planning for strike votes. A great session with many unique yet effective ideas.
I attended as many strike prep sessions in the Winnipeg office as possible to talk about the process of bargaining. It was so encouraging to see the boardroom full at each session. I attended the Agriculture Local 50056 AGM in person, UHEW 50012 AGM in person and UNE SSO 30040 AGM by phone.
On January 30th, I participated in an RSS with the Winnipeg Airport Authority Firefighters bargaining team and was able to sit in caucus with them on March 5th to further develop our strategy. It has been a difficult round of bargaining but the team is committed to a fair deal for their members.
On March 11th, I attended a meeting in Regina with Negotiator Seth Sazant with members of UHEW 40721 to discuss concerns about taking possible strike action. While attendance was low, it was a respectful and productive conversation and provided an opportunity for members to hear directly from the negotiator as to what has transpired at the table and how we got to the point of requesting a strike vote.
Since the shutdown of the office, we have used a multitude of platforms to stay connected and active. In addition to regular and as needed calls with the AEC and NBOD, I have been in regular communications with DCL employers and separate employers. I attend a weekly call with Casino Regina management (was twice weekly initially before the layoffs), as needed calls with CAHRD management and local executives, as needed with University of Winnipeg and Brandon University. There has also been a number of virtual meetings regarding MOU’s for several of our airport units.
Regular Communication with PRC and National Officers
In order to have good communication, be informed about local struggles and solicit feedback during the pandemic, there have been bi-monthly meetings separately with
the Prairie Region Council and Prairies National Officers. The national officers have expressed that it is helpful to hear the reality in other workplaces. Members of the PRC appreciated being able to connect as a group. These regular meetings took a break for the summer starting in July and we continued with these meetings in the fall.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
In early June, former staff came forward online through #CMHRstoplying following online support expressed on the museum’s Facebook page for the Black Lives Matter protest in Winnipeg. Former staff detailed harassment, discrimination, inappropriate practises as well as being silenced and pushed out of their jobs. Staff were also forced to censor gay content in the museum for specific groups. We were saddened but unfortunately not shocked to hear of these stories. The PSAC Local at the museum has been raising these issues with museum management since at least October 2018. As recently as two weeks before the information was made public, the Union made proposals in contract talks with the museum to ensure anti-harassment training for all museum staff – including management – proposals that were rejected by the museum.
At the time, PSAC-Prairies called for the museum to accept proposals to proactively work against harassment and discrimination at the bargaining table. We continue to call for this. Additionally, PSAC-Prairies and UNE urged the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to not extend Mr. Young’s term as CEO. Mr. Young resigned as further allegations of ignored sexual harassment became public. A new CEO, Isha Khan, former Executive Director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, was recently appointed. Staff are hopeful with this appointment however there are many staff that still exist within the management team that helped foster the environment that lead to the public allegations.
Meeting with Staff of Minister Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage
The Chief of Staff from the Minister’s office requested a meeting to discuss the CMHR issues. Myself and Brother Kevin King, UNE National President participated. We were asked to provide as much information as possible on the reality within the Museum and also asked to provide what we saw as solutions. They were aware of many of the issues and we received a commitment that the Minister was committed to affecting change within CMHR both internally and externally.
Win on Federal Assistance for Museum Workers
Working with Brother Silas, PSAC Prairies and NCR issued a joint letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage urging federal assistance for national museums during the pandemic. On Friday, June 19, 2020, the Ministry released new program information called the Museums Assistance Program (MAP). I am grateful that Minister Guilbeault listened to our call and took action to ensure that our national museums weren’t left behind.
Response to Paul Samyn’s comments criticizing Service Canada Employees
Paul Samyn, one of the Winnipeg Free Press editors, writes an introduction piece to their daily COVID-19 newsletter, and has been since the start of the pandemic. However, with one of his introductions in June, he chose to give readers the impression that workers at Service Canada were on vacation while Canadians couldn’t get access to the vital services that they needed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In response to these comments, an op-ed was written in response, and when it was clear the Winnipeg Free Press wasn’t going to publish our response, it was posted to the website, social media accounts and shared through our MailChimp newsletter. Our response was well received by members. Labour allies in the province were also reached out to for support. The response can be read on the PSAC Prairies website.
Convention 2021 Preparation
Plans for the 8th Triennial Prairie Region Convention were well underway. The Prairie Region Council met in Calgary February 27th – 28th, 2020 to prepare the budget and resolutions for convention committees. Convention committees which included PRC and also some component national officers were held February 29th and March 1st. Registration was closed and we were in the process of seeking nominations for the Prairie Voice Awards. However, due to COVID-19, the work around Convention preparation was suspended. In the Spring it was confirmed that the 2021 PSAC National Triennial Convention will be postponed until 2022 and the PSAC Regional Conventions and PSAC Component Conventions will be postponed until 2021. Prairie Region Convention has been rescheduled to June 25th – 27th, 2021 in Regina, SK.
There were a number of strike vote meetings planned as well as worksite visits prior to the shutdown. These included an event in Calgary with National President, Chris Aylward. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, all meeting and events were cancelled. It is unknown when an in-person outreach event such as this will be able to be rescheduled.
Closure of all Regional Offices
On Friday, March 13th, 2020, staff were notified that all regional offices in the Prairie region would be closed for at least two weeks and that staff were being asked to work from home. Staff have continued to service members during the physical office closure. The offices are not scheduled to open up until at least June 30th, 2020.
Health and Safety Webinars
Since the office closure, the Prairies region has been hosting weekly webinars, with a focus on health and safety. The Health and Safety Representative was taking the lead initially, however, we have expanded the development of the weekly webinars to all regional office staff as well as the topics of the webinars. On May 7th, 2020, Chris and Magali joined the Prairie Region webinar for an interactive session, where members were able to hear directly from their National Leadership and ask questions.
List of Webinars topics and dates:
Webinar #1: COVID Pandemic and Your H&S Rights at Work (March 24th, 1016 attendees).
Webinar #2: COVID-19 Pandemic and the Role of Representatives (March 31st, 64 attended).
Webinar #3: Union Strategies for Mental Health & Well-Being (April 9th, 159 attended).
Webinar #4: Ergonomics and Working From Home (April 16th, 77 attended).
Webinar #5: Mental Health Challenges (April 23rd, 76 attended).
Webinar #6: What is Work/Life Balance During a Pandemic? (April 30th, 73 attended)
Webinar #7: Connect with your National Leadership (May 7th, 149 attended).
Webinar #8: PSAC 101. An Introduction to Your Union (May 21st, 74 attended).
Webinar #9: Returning to Work Following the Pandemic (May 28, 156 attended).
Webinar #10: How the Federal Public Service Pension Plan works! (June 4, 381 attended)
Webinar #11: Get Involved. It's Your Right! (June 11, 57 attended).
Webinar #12: Simple Steps to Being a Better Ally (June 18, 41 attended).
- Webinar #13: Preventing a Grievance, Strategies for Early Conflict Resolution (June 25, 36 attended.)
Still Here for Canada Campaign
PSAC members have made significant contributions to the COVID-19 relief efforts, consistently gone above and beyond, adjusting quickly to emerging federal priorities. The Prairies REVP office continues to work with regional offices and the national office on the development of the Still Here for Canada campaign to showcase PSAC’s members contributions to help Canada get through this unprecedented situation. Three members have made submissions so far. As we actively promote the campaign and reach out to members individually, we hope for more participation in the region.
PSAC Post-Doctoral Researchers Developing COVID-19 Vaccine
In a state-of-the art research lab at VIDO-InterVac, nestled in the University of Saskatchewan campus, a team of PSAC post-doctoral researchers are inching their way closer to a viable vaccine for COVID-19. This lab received federal research dollars in one of the early federal relief announcements. Members from DCL Local 40004 are working directly on the vaccine for COVID-19.
National Public Service Week
This National Public Service Week was an important time to recognize the membership for their hard work and significant contributions to Canada’s pandemic recovery. PSAC Prairies placed a print advertisement with the Winnipeg Free Press and Post-media in Saskatchewan and Alberta including the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Regina Leader Post and Saskatoon Star Phoenix. Additionally, radio ads ran in all three Prairie provinces including CJOB 680 AM, CFPG 99.1 FM The Peggy, BOB FM, and NCI Spirit of Manitoba in Manitoba, CJME 980 AM, CKOM 980 AM, and CHQX 101.5 FM in Saskatchewan, and CFFR 660 AM, CHQT 880 AM, CFRV 107.7 FM, and CFWE (rebroadcasts in 35 communities) in Alberta. A virtual solidarity party was hosted during NPSW but was advertised to all our membership. Regional op-ed pieces were published in the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal and though the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba.
Continued Closure of all Regional Offices
Staff in the region have continued work from home throughout this reporting period and it is unknown when and how the regional offices will be able to safely reopen. The COVID-19 active case count varies significantly from region to region. Staff have done an exceptional job responding to this new work reality while continuing to provide excellent service to the membership. The regional office closures have been a challenge for many staff with respect to certain tasks and have negatively impacted the region’s committees and area councils.
COVID-19 Membership Impact
Due to public health orders, Casino Regina had to close to the public. All members were laid off with the exception of maintenance and security staff. An MOU was signed with the employer regarding the process of recall to ensure that members who were without childcare or lived with someone immune-compromised could refuse callback during the pandemic period. 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 will be allowed to open which will allow more members to return to work.
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. Regina airport and Protec (firefighters at Saskatoon 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 is being felt more so now that there are less contracts for the fall term as the universities move to a primarily virtual model. We continue to push for health and safety protections for our members and to find ways to connect with members now that some may not even be physically in the same city.
Phoenix Anniversary Rally
To recognize that PSAC members have been dealing with the consequences of the Phoenix Pay system for four years, members in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg held
rallies. We received a respectable amount of media coverage for all three events and good levels of membership and ally participation.
Additionally, other activities took place across the Prairies to mark the day. Members from UTE Local 30027 in Lethbridge mourned yet another anniversary of the failed Phoenix pay system. Members from UNDE locals 30907 and 30910 rallied at the front gates at CFB Suffield with informational handouts on phoenix and the damages agreements. This activity was supported by UNDE local 30912 who are not directly affected by Phoenix. They also delivered letters to Member of Parliament, Glen Motz’s Office. Local media covered the activity. A few locals marked the day with a cake, including AGR Local 30049.
Local 40004 Tuition Fee Increases Campaign
At the beginning of February, the local was made aware of substantial tuition fee increases planned for the University of Saskatchewan graduate students. This was released through a report from the Dean of the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The tuition fee increases planned were 10 percent in every year for 5 years for domestic students with a 6.9 percent differential increase for international graduate students. These increases would have placed an undue burden on PSAC members, negatively effecting the financial stability, food security and mental health of our members.
A letter was written to Dr. Trever Crowe, Interim Dean, College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by myself on behalf of Local 40004 members urging him to reverse course as well as a press release that garnered media attention from the Star Phoenix. A rally as well as quarter-page advertisement in the Star Phoenix was planned, however both were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the end of in-person classes on campus. It was thought that the timing of such an ad would be inappropriate and membership mobilization would be impossible.
Currently, the University of Saskatchewan has put on hold the majority of tuition fee increases, including the increases planned for a significant part of our membership. This struggle against tuition fee increases will likely continue in the future, however it is impossible to tell when that may be at this moment.
Local 40005 - Support Casino Regina Workers During COVD-19
After closing their doors on March 17th, 2020, Casino Regina workers anticipated layoff notices. However, due to the mobilization of Local 40005 and the PSAC Prairie region, SaskGaming committed to paying workers until April 3rd, 2020. This was a significant victory for members who saw their livelihood dried up practically overnight.
There were regular phone calls with SaskGaming as the pressure continued to extend this commitment beyond that deadline. Unfortunately the Crown Corporation decided on its own to issue temporary layoff notices to 549 unionized staff and 42 non-union employees effective April 3rd. The union was made aware of this information on an afternoon phone meeting on March 26th.
PSAC-Prairies mounted an online campaign calling on the provincial government to intervene and overturn the decision of Casino management. This included a letter writing campaign through NewMode which saw roughly 400 letters of support for Casino Regina workers sent to the province and SaskGaming as well as media campaign. Unfortunately, those calls did not impact SaskGaming’s planned layoffs, however, members will still retain their benefits.
University of Saskatchewan’s researchers join PSAC Local 40004
Following an organizing drive that began in fall 2018, the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board certified PSAC as their bargaining agent on April 14, 2020 following a vote by secret ballot which confirmed strong majority support for unionizing. We are proud to welcome 120 research associates, professional research associates, professional associates and research scientists employed at the University of Saskatchewan.
The next steps for the Local include developing concrete bargaining proposals, electing a bargaining committee and sending a notice to bargain to the University of Saskatchewan to negotiate a first collective agreement.
Ratification Votes for PA, TC, EB, and SV groups as well as PSAC-UTE
Over the summer and fall, PA, TC, EB and SV groups of Treasury Board, CFIA and Park Canada employees as well as PSAC-UTE reached tentative agreements with their employers. All groups ratified their collective agreements.
Due to the public health recommendations, all ratification votes had to be conducted online. For the Treasury Board, ten webinars are scheduled for the PA group, six webinars for TC group, three for the EB group and six webinars for the SV group. Seven webinars are scheduled for PSAC-UTE members, four webinars for CFIA and five webinar sessions for Parks Canada members.
At the start, there were some challenges with members signing up for the wrong webinar. However, some changes were made to the way the webinar information was advertised and that seemed to help with member’s confusion. Overall it is a new process and more succinct messaging will be required for any future virtual processes.
Solidarity and Political Action
MFL Call for Presumptive WCB Coverage for Workers with COVID-19
At the beginning of the pandemic upheaval, the Manitoba Federation of Labour called for the Government of Manitoba and the Workers Compensation Board to immediately move to provide presumptive coverage for all Manitoba workers who are infected with COVID-19 through the course of their employment. We promoted this call using PSAC Prairies social media accounts and wrote a letter in support of this call to the Minister of Finance, Hon. Scott Fielding.
AECEA ask for Alberta Government to Provide Assistance to Early Learning Centres
The Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta asked for PSAC-Prairies to support their ask for the Government of Alberta to provide urgent assistance to early learning centres in Alberta. While the provincial government’s announcement of deferrals for tax payments and the federal government’s offer of interest-free loans are welcome, they are insufficient to help organizations meet immediate and ongoing costs. We signed on to their call and contacted Minister Schulz on behalf of AECEA’s call.
MOFA and CFS-MB Campaign Against up to 30 percent cuts to Manitoba Universities
PSAC represents workers at the University of Winnipeg, Local 55600, who are markers, tutors, lab demonstrators, teaching assistants, English language instructors, research associates and research assistants as well as Brandon University, Local 55601, who are student assistants, research assistants, academic residence assistants, student ambassadors, and tutors. The proposed cut would dramatically impact our members working conditions as well as their ability to obtain work. We used PSAC Prairies social media accounts to promote the campaign and petition calling on the Manitoba government to reverse its plan. We also wrote a letter of support for the campaign to the Manitoba Premier, Hon. Brian Pallister and the Minister of Economic Development and Training, Hon. Ralph Eichler.
Resource Support for the Manitoba Health Coalition’s Webinars
PSAC-Prairies is a member of the Manitoba Health Coalition. We received a request from the organisation for the use of our webinar tool, GoToWebinar. So far, we have supported three webinars for the organisation, and they have expressed interest in using the webinar tool in the future.
MFL International Women’s Day Breakfast
Every year, the Manitoba Federation of Labour hosts an International Women’s Day breakfast at the Union Centre. PSAC-Prairies purchased four tickets to support this year’s breakfast.
Day of Mourning in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta
With a state of emergency in effect in all three Prairie provinces leaving us unable to congregate, the Day of Mourning was forced to look very different than in previous years. This year, all activities took place online. In Manitoba, the Manitoba Federation of Labour livestreamed a ceremony on Facebook. In Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and the Canadian Labour Congress – Prairies collaborated on a video that sought community members in Saskatchewan to each read the names of people who were killed or injured at work, or who died of a workplace illness within the last year. In Alberta, the Edmonton and District Labour Council produced a video as well. We shared all contributions to the day on social media. We hope that next year we will be able to come together in person.
Saskatchewan Provincial Election
On October 26, 2020, Saskatchewan went to the polls in one of the first elections to take place in Canada since the beginning of the pandemic. In order to support the membership as they make their decision on how they will vote, an election leaflet was mailed to members with information on key issues that affect working people, including keeping our Crowns public. Casino Regina, PSAC Local 40005, is a Crown corporation and it is in the best interest of our members for it to remain a Crown.
Partnership to Defend Public Services – Manitoba
Unions in Manitoba successfully challenged Bill 28, the Public Services Sustainability Act. The bill was passed by the Progressive Conservative government in 2017 and was found unconstitutional in June. It mandated a two-year wage freeze for public-sector workers as each new collective agreement was negotiated, followed by a 0.75 per cent pay increase in the third year and one per cent in the fourth. The Pallister government has filed an appeal and affected unions continue to meet with legal counsel.
Manitoba: Bill 16, Labour Relations Amendments Act
Instead of listening to the court ruling, Premier Brian Pallister gave Manitobans Bill
16, The Labour Relations Amendments Act. Unfortunately, Pallister has learned nothing from the June ruling and instead has chosen to engage in a petty and cynical attack on working people and their unions. There are many changes, however here are some of the highlights: Bill 16 makes it easier for bad employers to fire striking workers, to decertify a union, to reject union certification and removes the requirement of employers to notify workers for an upcoming technological change, eliminates Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and targets the public sector unions that took him to court.
Alberta: Bill 1, 30, 32, and 47, Defend Workers Rights Campaign
In the spring, Kenney’s UCP government released Bill 1, the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which threatens freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Bill 1 dramatically effects unions’ ability to legally picket during a strike by deeming trails, roads, alleys, squares, sidewalks, boulevards, ditches “essential infrastructure” where legal picketing could be punishable by fines and jail time. AUPE has filed a legal challenge to the bill. PSAC will be there to support in any way that is necessary.
The goal of Bill 32, Restoring Balance in Alberta’s Workplaces Act, it to tip the scales of power in the workplace towards employers and corporations and away from working people. It wages war on Alberta’s unionized workers and undermines foundational rights all workers have through the Employment Standards Act.
Here are some highlights to Bill 32: allowing for easy employer access of union financial statements through new financial report guidelines, requiring that unions determine the amount or percentage of the union dues are spent on “political activities and other causes” and require that union members opt-in to consent to the union’s political work, removing timelines for union certification, restricting workers from picketing at a second location, making it illegal to delay those crossing a picket line for even a minute, relaxing work permits for 13 and 14-year-olds, creating a new lower youth minimum wage, reducing layoff pay and time necessary for shift changes, and forcing averaging overtime arrangements onto workers, basically eliminating overtime pay in the province. The Alberta Federation of Labour have expressed their intention to enact an legal challenge to Bill 32 and PSAC is working with them to support that challenge.
Bill 30, the Health Statutes Amendment Act, is an omnibus bill that opens up Alberta to increased privatization of healthcare and lays the ground work for two-tiered health care in the province. The UCP government has made important regulatory changes and are looking to ramp up private surgical facilities and contracting out of surgeries, a privatization plan that constantly fails to provide better, more cost effective service to Canadians. The long-term effects on Alberta’s healthcare system could be devastating. PSAC will keep the board updated on any more developments as well as the ways that the union can help in the struggle to keep healthcare in Alberta public.
Bill 47, Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act, not only make worksites less safe by cutting OHS, but it also makes it more difficult for injured workers to get WCB benefits, makes it easier to kick injured workers off benefits and focuses on saving employers money on the backs of injured workers.
SOLIDARITY RALLY for USW Local 9074 Members
In June, the employer at Fat Cat Wear Parts, USW Local 9074, in Selkirk, Manitoba locked out its workers. The 60 members of the Local were shut out of the plant at midnight on June 19, after the company rejected the union’s proposal for a two-year wage freeze without any further discussion or attempt to bargain further. Frank Janz, alternate REVP and I attended a solidarity rally for the locked out workers, organised by the Manitoba Federation of Labour. The lock out ended on August 27 when members ratified the proposed collective agreement, achieving a wage increase that was approximately 50% higher than the offer rejected on June 19.
Resource Support for the Manitoba Health Coalition’s Webinars
PSAC-Prairies is a member of the Manitoba Health Coalition. We have been providing support to the organisation through the use of our webinar tool, GoToWebinar. So far, we have supported four webinars for the organisation, including one on September 9, 2020 on the topic of a senior’s advocate for Manitoba.
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 to take action. The next step up the ladder of engagement is calling their Member of Parliament.
UNDE Campaign – Uncover the Costs
On October 26, UNDE and PSAC nationally launched a join report, In the Interest of Safety and Security: The Case for Ending the Privatization of Department of National Defense Services. In order to follow-up the national launch with regional media outreach, regional press releases were drafted and sent out in each province featuring regional examples of the consequences of contracting out DND service. Membership engagement was also prioritized. A webinar for Prairies UNDE members featuring national officers from UNDE, June Winger, National President, Mona Simcoe, Vice- President, Manitoba and Saskatchewan and Brian Meakin, Vice-President, Alberta and the North was held on November 12.
Members were asked to participate in the campaign by signing a letter to the federal government as a first step, followed by calling their Member of Parliament to request a meeting on the campaign. Every MP across the Prairies received the report along with an introductory letter highlighting regional examples. Marianne Hladun, REVP, PSAC Prairies and Mona Simcoe, UNDE VP, MB and SK, had a productive meeting with MP James Bezan, Defence Critic for the Official Opposition.
For next steps in the campaign, UNDE Locals across the Prairies have been sent lawn and handheld signs to organise local (safe and socially distanced) actions. PSAC and UNDE have been meeting weekly to work together on the regional component of the campaign. We will continue to do so into the new year.
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.
Dec 6, National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
With the current state of COVID-19 in Manitoba, we continue to not be able to congregate. In order to recognize December 6 while following public health directive, 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.
The graduate employees bargaining unit at the University of Saskatchewan have continued to bargain virtually since the shutdown of online classes at the University. A tentative agreement was ratified in October.
Notice to Bargain has been issued for the Professional Research Associates at the University of Saskatchewan that became members of PSAC in April 2020. The University negotiator has requested a postponement to commence this set of negotiations.
A tentative agreement has been ratified for the Royal Canadian Mint Protective Services Officers (GSU) in Winnipeg.
A tentative agreement has been reached and ratified by UCTE Firefighters at the Winnipeg Airport.
Notice to bargain has been issued to CAHRD (DCL Local at Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development). Bargaining will be done virtually Dec. 7-9, 2020.
A tentative agreement has been reached for UHEW members at Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation. Ratification will be conducted in December 2020.
Negotiations continue at the Canadian Museum of Human. The newly appointed CEO had asked for a short postponement in order to review our proposals before bargaining resumes.
Following ratification of a tentative agreement with DCL 40005 at Casino Regina, the employer refused to honor the signed minutes of settlement. All issues have now been resolved and the agreement has been signed and printed.
In addition to regular negotiations, we have been working with employers to clarify our interpretation of collective agreements and/or negotiating letters of understanding:
Several LOU’s have been negotiated with the Royal Canadian Mint.
An LOU was reached with Saskatoon Airport Authority to keep members employed but doing different work. This has been extended.
An LOU was reached with Calgary Airport Authority to rescind some layoffs and return members to payroll through the employer wage subsidy. This has been extended.
An LOU was negotiated with Winnipeg Airport Authority for staff reductions and cost saving measures. Members rejected the LOU and there were some layoffs both permanent and temporary.
LOU’s were negotiated with Edmonton Airport Authority for three bargaining units. Two units rejected the LOU and one accepted. There have been layoffs.
Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies