Report from the REVP to the National Board of Directors

October 4 – 7, 2011Brothers 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.

Regionalization (Atlantic)

Atlantic Council
The last Atlantic Regional Council Meeting was held at the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in St. John’s, NL, on June 23, 2011prior to the Atlantic Triennial Convention. 

The convention saw the election of a new Atlantic Regional Council that is slated to come together for the first time November 3-6, 2011. This will involve two days of teambuilding work facilitated by Morna Balantyne. Regional Political Communications Officer, Lesley Thompson will lead council members in a half day of media training. The council will meet for a half day to discuss establishing the committees of council and the roles of council members.

5th Triennial Atlantic Regional Convention
The 5th Triennial Atlantic Regional Convention took place from June 23 – 26, 2011, at the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in St. John’s, NL.

With 278 delegates, 55 observers and 16 guests in attendance, it was the Atlantic’s largest convention yet.  

Organized around the theme “Our Solidarity, Our Strength,” the gathering also sought to focus and mobilize the power of members on the heels of a foreboding federal budget announcement. The federal budget that was tabled by the Harper Conservatives aims to reduce the deficit on the backs of hard working Canadians by slashing quality public services. 

The delegation took part in a massive, harbour-front rally to fight the closure of the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s.  PSAC members believe that in cutting this service, the government is acting in disregard of public will, public good and public safety. PSAC represents the 12 affected workers at the Sub-Centre who are responsible for 900,000 square kilometres of ocean and 28,956 kilometres of coastline in Newfoundlandand Labrador.  The centre also deals with the most distress incidents in the country.  The Unionis front and centre in the fight to support this service and the people who provide it.

The Organizing Committee raised funds for Shannen’s Dream. Its goal is to ensure that the Government of Canada meets its obligations to First Nations children and youth by providing culturally-based and equitable education and proper schools.  A wall of the Convention hall was used to construct a First Nations’ school.  Bricks were sold for $25.00 and name of the contributing body was written on the brick and added to build the wall.  $7820 was raised.

Component Conventions
I attended the National Component convention in St. John’s, NL, where I brought greetings on behalf of PSAC. I also attended the CEIU convention in Halifax, NS, and took part in a convention demonstration protesting the cuts to the public services offered by Service Canada.

Parks Canada Demo in PEI
In mid-June I spoke a Parks Canada demo in Dalvay, PEI. The event was organized to mobilize members around collective bargaining shortly before the sides exchanged proposal. One of the key issues for Parks Canada in workers in PEIis the use of summer student workers and volunteers to perform bargaining unit work.

Workplace visits
As much as possible, I have been visiting workplaces to connect with members and become acquainted first hand with the services they provide. In June, I connected with members of two university DCLs at Memorial in St. John’s, NL. I also toured the Parks Canada Historic sites in RedBayand Lanse-aux-Meadows, NL.

Cuts at Service Canada
PSAC members who work for Service Canada have been heavily targeted since the recycled June budget announcement.  In July, 20 Service Canada workers, 13 in Bathurstand 7 in Miramichi, learned that their contracts would not be renewed.  In August, 150 contract staff at Service Canada’s Public Service Pension Centre in Shediac were told the same.  Many of these members expected their positions would become permanent.  In late August, New Brunswickmembers in Shediac and Bathurstorganized demos in their communities to draw attention to the impact of job loss in the community.  I attended and addressed the event in Shediac. NCRREVP Larry Rousseau spoke at the event in Bathurst. We were very happy hear on September 14 that the terms of 94 workers have been extended at part-time hours until December 31, 2011.

The most recent plan to consolidate the services of 120 Service Canada offices into a mere 20 by 2014 is expected to eliminate upwards of 167 public sector jobs in the Atlantic and 600 jobs nationally. In the Atlantic, we’ve had extensive media coverage on this matter.

In Atlantic Canada the knife will fall principally on small towns and rural areas. Cuts like these translate into families packing up and leaving, classrooms shrinking, and local businesses closing meaning that it’s not just affected workers who are worried. Al Hawkins, the Mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor, NL, has been raising questions in the media. After voicing its own concerns, the Gander Chamber of Commerce received a warning from Phil McIntosh, Director of Investigations at the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying Canada advising that it must be registered as a lobby group to speak out on the matter. The EI processing centres in both communities are slated for closure, as well as the offices in Montague, PEIand in Glace Bayand Sydney, NS.

Atlantic Staff Conference
The Atlantic staff conference will take place during the last week in September where I will discuss with staff the challenges that lie ahead of us in the upcoming cycle and brief them on the new AECportfolios.

Young Workers Retreat
Work is beginning on an Atlantic Young Workers Retreat to be held in late November outside of Halifax.  André Beaulieu, Atlantic Director for Young Workers, Sébastien Bezeau, Acting Regional Representative in the Moncton RO, and Lesley Thompson, Regional Communications Officers, have already begun the planning process and hope to bring together between 20 and 30 young PSAC members.

Negotiation and Mobilization

Fredericton Airport
UCTE members at FrederictonAirportwere in an extended conciliation period which lasted until August 15. The conciliator recommended an additional extension on the basis that further negotiations would be helpful to both sides as progress was being made.  However, the employer (CEO David Innes) did not agree to the extension.

Consequently the 21 day cooling off period kicked in and ended at midnighton September. A mediator was appointed to meet with parties on August 31, September 1 and 2.

The Essential Services Agreement will not be completed until mid-October.  It is the union’s position is that the final tentative agreement cannot be negotiated until the ESAis completed and the new classifications are factored in the agreement.  

Bridge and Police Commissionaires
Commissionaires Nova Scotiais a notoriously unfriendly employer. Commissionaires who work on the two Halifaxbridges and for the Halifax Regional Police were engaged in difficult and prolonged bargaining which came to a conclusion in September.  Commissionaires voted to accept a tentative agreement on Thursday, September 15.

Marine Atlantic
PSAC members who work for Marine Atlantic in North Sydney, NS, and Port-aux-Basques and Argentia, NL, will take a strike vote at meetings planned for October 12,13 and 14.

Political and Social Action

CUPW and Air Canada Strike Support
This spring and summer the Harper Conservatives showed organized labour just how little respect they have for the bargaining process. PSAC members throughout the Atlanticprovided strike support at airports and Canada Post plants and offices. 

Don’t Cut Me: Federal Budget Fightback
Members held plantgates throughout the region wearing Don’t’ Cut me stickers and engaging members to fight Tony Clement’s project to slash $4 billion in jobs and services.  This was successfully followed up with the launch of the petition which we are actively promoting in the region.

Tony Clement has breakfast in Halifax
5 members of the Atlantic Regional Council descended upon the posh Halifax Club for a breakfast briefing by Treasury Board President Tony Clement.  Clement was invited by the Atlantic Institute for Market Research to give a report on his plans for Canada’s economic recovery.  Council members asked questions on the issue of cuts to search and rescue services in St. John’s, NL, to EI and public pension processing at Service Canada, and more.  Wearing “Don’t Cut Me” stickers, it goes without saying that Minister Clement was unhappy to see PSAC members there.


More and more PSAC Atlantic is building its earned media presence. When cuts fall on rural areas and small communities, as they often do in this region, they tend to resonate more with union and community members.  We have had consistent media presence. We have also submitted letters to the editor and opinion pieces with great success.

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 June through September of 2011.

Respectfully Submitted for your Approval,

Jeannie Baldwin
Regional Executive Vice-President, Atlantic