Report from the Atlantic Regional Executive Vice-President to the Atlantic Council, March 12-13, 2011

Brothers and Sisters:

I am pleased to submitmy activity report since the last meeting Atlantic Council as the Regional Executive Vice-President, Atlantic.  My activities are set out under the following headings: Regionalization, Political and Social Action.

Regionalization (Atlantic)

Atlantic Council
At this council meeting we will dedicate one day to Safe Space Training.  The goal of the training is to reduced homophobia/transphobia and heterosexism and help council members learn to foster spaces and situations that are open, safe, and accepting to all GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning) people and allies.

Committees of council will prepare their reports to conventions. Council will also deal with resolutions to convention and will hear reports from the organizing and host committees.

PSAC National Women’s Conference
In October, I had the privilege of co-chairing the PSAC National Women’s Conference with Sister Patty Ducharme.

Health and Safety Conferences
PSAC health and safety activists gathered at the Harbourview Holiday Inn in Dartmouth from November 5-7 and at the Hotel Gander November 26-28, 2010for the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Regional Health, Safety and Environment Conferences.

Under the theme Health & Safety: A Commitment for Life, the conferences examined the Health & Safety issues that PSAC members are facing in their workplaces with an emphasis on workplace bullying and harassment.

Dr. Gary Namie from the Workplace Bullying Institute in Washingtongave a day-long workshop. The conference also looked at the critical issue of environmental sustainability and the Union’s role in environmental regulations.

CLC– Rise up for your Rights
We had the priviledge of having equity members and women’s directors of council attend CLC “Rise up for your Rights” Conference in December along with other PSAC equity members.

Direct Charter Local Conference
Representatives from the fifteen DCLs in the Atlantic will convene for a conference in Halifax on January 29 and 30. Separate day long sessions will take place for university sector members on January 27 and for commissionaires on January 28.

Regionalization (Negotiation/ mobilization)

Pension victory at Sydney Airport
Members of PSAC local 80807 who work at Sydney Airport ratified a collective agreement with the Sydney Airport Authority. The new agreement commits the employer to protecting the defined benefit pension plan, a key demand of the union. The agreement was achieved with the help of federal mediator Murray Keans. The bargaining team unanimously recommended the tentative agreement to its membership at a ratification meeting that took place on November 8, 2010.  The Sydney Airport Authority ratified two days later on November 10.  Employees had been without a contract since September 2009.

The union had been challenging the elimination of the defined benefit pension plan of a number of the bargaining unit members and a proposed cap on the accumulation of sick leave credits of all employees.

The agreement includes a commitment to protecting the defined benefit plans of five bargaining unit members beyond the life of the collective agreement and until they retire. It also contains improvements to the pension benefits of other workers. Sick leave was protected for current employees, however, any new bargaining unit members will be subject to a cap.

UGSW signs first contract
The Union of Graduate Student Workers ratified its first collective agreement on November 8, 2010.  The Union and the University of New Brunswick signed the agreement in December. This is a five-year deal retroactive to May 2008.  

Union of Listuguj Employees ratifies first collective agreement
The staff at Alaqsite’w Gitpu School in the Mi’gmaq First Nation of Listuguj in Quebec ratified its first collective agreement on January 13, 2011 after nearly three years of difficult bargaining and creative community mobilizing.

The two sides entered into conciliation in May 2010, but bargaining soon came to a standstill. Talks resumed in early December. The workers remain in a lockout situation.  Chief and council has yet to ratify the agreement and continues to draw out and frustrate the process.

A letter from Andrew Raven will be sent to the council by mid-February reminding the employer of its obligations under section 50 of the Canada Labour Code. If there is no further movement, there are plans to file a complaint with the CIRB.

Treasury Board Ratification Votes
Between October 20 and November 30, I took part in dozens of information sessions on the Treasury Board tentative agreements.

UTE Ratification Votes
In October we held in several information sessions on the tentative agreement between CRA and UTE.

On November 19, 2010, workers at Canadian Forces Base 5 Wing Goose Bay voted to ratify a collective agreement with Serco.  The 306 UNDE members provide services to the base and to the community including airport maintenance and repair, logistics services, environmental protection, ground and air communications and more.  The three year agreement takes effect April 1, 2011 and expires March 31, 2014.

I had the please of being present for the signing of this agreement in Goose Bay, NL, on February 28, 2011.

Political and Social Action

Commissionaires Halifax Airport
Commissionaires who work at Halifax Stanfield International Airport continue to protest their employer’s plan to cut seven jobs and eliminate job sharing, which could affect an additional ten positions.

On January 6, 2011, members held a demonstration at the airport entrance and were joined by Member of Parliament Peter Stoffer. They demanded that Commissionaires Nova Scotia stop violating their collective agreement as well as labour legislation. 

Winter Warm-up
Winter Warm-up is a joint initiative by the PSAC Labrador Region Women’s Committee, NAPC and the Happy Valley-Goose Bay Area Council and the Labrador Friendship Centre to promote and bring awareness on the issue of Anti Poverty in Labrador. The project is being implemented by the Labrador Friendship Centre, a community centre that services over 15,000 Innu, Inuit and Metis low income families in Happy-Valley-GooseBay, NL. It runs from January to June. The project is supported by the Social Justice Fund. 

I had the pleasure of helping out at the fourth event and was joined by Provincial Director for Newfoundland and Labrador Brenda Linstead and member Brandi-Lee Abbott.

Christmas Shoe Box
Agriculture Unionlocal 80002 and the Halifax Human Rights Committee together spearheaded yet another successful year of Operation Christmas Child. After a year of collecting clothes, toys, books, candy, toiletries and other items, 1487 hundred shoe boxes were assembled for children of all ages. Dozens of PSAC volunteers and their friends and family came together at the regional office to pitch in. Boxes will be sent abroad to children in need.  The Human Rights Committee in Halifaxtook the lead in collecting gfit 300 bags for the homless and provided breakfast for a year at Hope Cottage – a homeless shelter for men. 

Canada Post Fightback
Members of UPCE local 80823 who work at the National Philatelic Centre in Antigonish, NS, continue to work hard to save their jobs and the service they provide. 5000 signatures have been gathered to date on a petition. The local attended the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Convention where it was able to get a resolution passed. As a result the UNSM has sent a letter to Chuck Strahl, the Minister responsible for Canada Post, and to Peter MacKay. Following the placement of the “Handle with Care” advertisements in December there was some media attention on the matter in Antigonish.

The fightback continued in March with a second round of advertisements and a new push to pressure Peter MacKay to stand up for his constituents. Ads were paired with a media release and a web to email tool on the PSAC national site. Unfortunately, in early March Canada Post announced that it would contract out the work of the NPC to the company Aditya Birla Minacs. Our next steps are still be determined.

Senators were in Newfoundlandand LabradorOctober 31 – November 5, 2010, visiting lighthouses and communities on the northeast coast, BurinPeninsula, Avalon Peninsula, and in St. John’s.  PSAC staff coordinated members and allies were to attend many of these meetings to make the case against de-staffing.  The Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans announced in its December report that it was asking the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to stop de-staffing lighthouses until consultation can take place on a lightstation by lightstation basis.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the membership, PSAC Atlantic

Council, RVP/NVP’s, local leadership and staff for their commitment and hard work in the Atlantic Region.

Respectfully Submitted for your Approval,

Jeannie Baldwin, Regional Executive Vice-President, Atlantic