Brothers and Sisters:
I am pleased to submitmy activity report since the last meeting of the National Board of Directors as the Regional Executive Vice-President, Atlantic. My activities are set out under the following headings: Regionalization, Negotiations/Mobilization and Political Action.
The Atlantic Council met October 17-20, 2013 in Saint John, New Brunswick, at the site of our upcoming convention. PSAC National President Robyn Benson attended the council meeting. Regional and National Component Vice-Presidents from the Atlantic also attended to take part in a special round table discussion on political action. The next meeting of the Atlantic Council will take place February 4-6, 2014, in Halifax.
Telephone Town Hall Meeting
On January 15, PSAC Atlantic held its first Telephone Town Hall meeting that invited all the region’s members to talk about key issues affecting our union, including Bill C-4, health and safety and collective bargaining. We were happy to have National President Robyn Benson on the call, as well as National Health and Safety Officer Jeff Bennie and Senior Research Officer Julie Chiasson. Our new Regional Coordinator Gaby Levesque was the host. Over 3200 PSAC Atlantic members were on the line for the English language call, and some 260 for the French language call. The feedback has been exceptionally positive and the Region looks forward to doing another telephone townhall soon.
The Atlantic Region has been at the forefront of the national campaign to stop the closure of 8 Veterans Affairs Offices, 3 of which are in our Region. The October 3rd Ottawa launch of the campaign video was followed by three town hall meetings in Charlottetown, Sydney and Corner Brook. The meetings were well attended and kicked off joint initiatives between our union and community partners to support veterans it their fight to save the offices that provide the one-on-one services they rely on.
The campaign has gained broad support from all political stripes and all walks of life. Media in the region has been almost exclusively positive and we have worked hard with our communications team in Ottawa to keep the story alive. PSAC members and veterans have been exceptional spokespeople and community advocates.
We have worked closely with the three communities’ municipal councils, all of which passed resolutions in support of keeping the offices open. The Liberal Party and the NDP both provincially and federally have also been supportive and engaged.
The Veterans March of Concern that took place on November 9 in Sydney was a powerful a display of opposition to this government’s decision. Over 3000 people took to the streets in advance of Remembrance Day to send a clear message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and to Minister Julian Fantino to keep these offices open.
Workers and veterans requested meetings with Gail Shea and Peter MacKay in October, both of whom refused. In response, the Region worked with a group of 10 Veterans from communities served by the Sydney Veterans Affairs office to spend a day in Antigonish outside of federal Minster Peter MacKay’s constituency office. Veterans asked MacKay’s constituents to sign postcards to the Prime Minister demanding that the offices remain open and fully staffed. Some 200 post cards were signed, and public support was entirely on the veterans’ side.
The offices are slated to close on January 31, 2014 and plans for January activities are under way.
Bathurst Town Hall Meeting
PSAC members in Bathurst took the initiative to organize a town hall meeting on January 9, 2014. I shared the floor with Yvon Godin, NDP MP for Acadie-Bathurst, Liberal MLA Brian Kenny, and CEIU National Vice-President Debbie Grey.. I talked to over 50 PSAC members about the impact that Bill C-4 will have on collective bargaining and health and Safety.
Newfoundland and Labrador Local Presidents Meeting
National Vice-President Chris Aylward joined me in St. John’s, NL, on January 16, to talk to local presidents in person and by conference call about Bill C-4, Bill C-377 and Bill C-525, and collective bargaining. The meeting gave an opportunity to bring together the region’s leaders for the first time since the spring Regional Leadership Meetings.
PSAC Atlantic Honours Dr. J. Calbert (Cal) Best
On International Human Rights Day, the Public Service Alliance of Canada honoured the legacy of founding member Dr. J. Calbert (Cal) Best (1926-2007). Dr. Best was an African Nova Scotian human rights and labour activist from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, the son of Dr. Carrie M. Best and Albert Theophilus Best. He was co-founder and president of the Civil Service Association of Canada, the pre-curser to the Public Service Alliance of Canada. On December 10, 2013, the Halifax Regional Office of the PSAC dedicated its board room to Best’s life and work.
PSAC Atlantic at the Federations of Labour
PSAC submitted resolutions at the PEI, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour Conventions on both Bill C-4 and the closure of Veterans Affairs Offices. The resolutions passed unanimously. The Veterans Campaign video was also shown at all three conventions.
I also had the honour of receiving the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour Outstanding Union Leader Award alongside Les Holloway.
Negotiation and Mobilization
Lecturers’ Union of Memorial University of Newfoundland
Postdoctoral Fellows, who form a unit within the Lecturers’ Union of MUN reached a first, tentative agreement on December 13, 2013. Negotiations to achieve a renewal for LUMUN’s per-course instructors are on-going and proving to be quite challenging. Members could soon be in a strike/lock out position and are currently mobilizing around a possible strike vote.
City Hall Employees Association
Directly Chartered Local CHEA voted to accept a tentative agreement on December 5, 2013.
Political and Social Action
Regional Actions around Bill C-4
PSAC Atlantic members actively lobbied Senators and MPs during the short time between the first reading of Bill C-4 and when it received Royal Ascent. Members met with MPs Tilley O’Neil Gordon, Greg Kerr and Geoff Regan, as well as Senator James Cowan. Members in St. John’s also held a public demonstration with labour and community partners to protest Bill C-4.
I have continued to be outspoken in the regional media. I have done a number of radio interviews, in particular on Bill C-4 and the closure of the Veterans Affairs offices. An opinion editorial on Bill C-4 and a letter to the editor on Canada Post I wrote also appeared in a number of papers in the Region.
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.
Lastly, you will find enclosed, the details of my activities from November through February.
Respectfully Submitted for your approval,
Regional Executive Vice-President, Atlantic