Prairies Regional President's report
Presented at the Fourth National General Assembly
The last three years have been no less busy than the three previous; we had spent a lot of time traveling to the different locals, dealing with problems, mobilization, and negotiations. I believed that once we signed the collective agreement, things would settle down: boy was I wrong! It seems to have just gotten busier, educating our members and Local Executives with the changes to the collective agreement, and educating all on the addition of the global agreement. It seems at times we are spending as much time or more educating managers to the changes as well.
Labour relations in the Prairies Region, at the regional level, have been strained over the last two years, given the preceding Regional Deputy Commissioner (RDC) moved to become the Senior Deputy Commissioner (SDC). During that process, we had an acting RDC and our new RDC has been in place for just over a year. She opened up the first Regional Labour-Management Committee (RLMC) meeting stating her belief in not telling wardens what to do. This is significant because the new RDC comes from the region and was a warden in the Prairies. To say the least we have not been able to establish the same level of communications we once enjoyed. We continue to work on this and the Regional Executive continues to come up with different ways to address this problem.
We have challenges in our locals with filling and retaining all the Local Executive positions, so as to not burn out the Local Presidents. This is a challenge in not only maintaining consistency at our Regional Executive table, but also with regards to training needs within our locals as we seem to have a perpetual need to deliver training. This problem has existed in the Prairies Region throughout my whole career and will continue to be a challenge.
The deployment study has certainly been a problem for the region as it has been in all regions. We were successful in getting some of our issues addressed in the beginning, given all the hard work locals did when evaluating their needs at the start of the deployment study process. We were successful in getting some additional positions since, with locals doing the research and work need to justify their needs.
We continue to address the media where and when needed, with the majority of the time the reporters reporting our issues in the manner we presented, having the effect we desired.
In an effort to give back to the community and maintain a positive image we have aligned ourselves in Alberta with the Child Find organization. Numerous correctional Officers from different institutions have participated at different venues around Alberta. We sought and gained the approval from the commissioner so that correctional officers can participate in these events in uniform. We have been well received by the public and the Child Find organization. We will continue with this and hope to expand into all three provinces soon.
We have continued to maintain two observer spots at our Regional Executive and RLMC table in order to encourage and to develop future executive members. We make an effort to make it to each CTP graduation to introduce our newest members to the Union, our history, and our purpose.
As the Regional President, I have visited each site and attended either a Local Executive and/or Local General Assembly at each of the sites as requested and as much as possible. If it was not myself attending, the local was visited by either Robert Clarke, Regional Vice-President, Amanda McQuaid, Regional Secretary-Treasurer, or Jessie Caron, CSN union advisor. I believe that collectively, we have served our membership and region well. I have averaged over the past three years about 125 days on the road which is a challenge given there are 244 working days in a year.
National Return to Work Committee (NRTWC)
I feel the most successful or productive national committee I sit on, with the assistance of Jessie Caron CSN union advisor, has been the National Return to Work Committee. It has been a long road since signing the global agreement which includes the inception of injury on duty and the setting up of local, regional and national committees. We have worked hard to establish the proper tools and guidelines for the union to finally have some say and control in representing our injured correctional officer. We now have terms of reference that are the consistent at all levels, no longer can regions or local managers make up their own rules on how we deal with our injured correctional officers. Local Committees now have the power to ensure all correctional officers cases are reviewed, whether they were injured on the job or off, as either situation may require a return to work plan. We also have agreement that all correctional officers requiring accommodation for whatever reasons are discussed at the committee. Never again should we see the days of managers making deals and correctional officers falling through the cracks when it comes to return to work.
National Joint Occupational Safety and Health (NJOSH)
I sit on this committee with CSN union advisor Corinne Blanchette and National Vice-President Doug Hayhurst. This committee has and continues to be one of my most frustrating committees. We sit four times a year with the other unions and management, which by itself is difficult, as to get agreement on dates for the meetings.
Some victories are the Twinrix vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, ensuring institutions do Post Exposure Protocol (PEP) exercises and ensuring correctional officers are not out of pocket any money when placed on medications, related to the exposure. As well, we have secured national direction making sure that with the introduction for the new deployment standards that local IJOSH committees review, comment and sign off on post orders before they can be implemented.
Talott masks remain one of our losses. We pushed the issue hard to have the masks removed from our duty belts and placed with the AEDs and gowns and change to the bag type of ventilator. Despite forcing CSC to bring in Health Canada and representative from Talott to the NJOSH table, we could not gain the support of the rest of the committee. What was very unfortunate dealing with this file is it was reported that in two regions, Québec and the Prairies, masks failed when needed. This would have helped us to get rid of these from our duty belts. No one in either situation keep the failed masks for testing. I cannot stress enough that in the future there are any failures, keep the mask as evidence.
Many times, complaints under article 127 or 128 under Canada Labour Code, part II, are called by our members we don’t usefully capture and store the information from these cases. Whether it’s a victory or a loss, we can learn and become safer and wiser from both. We need to develop a mechanism or reporting system to capture this information, and share it with all our locals.
The Canada Labour Code, part II remains one of our most effective tools in our tool box, when used properly.
Safety and Security Committee
This committee has not sat since September 2008 due to the difficulty in trying to arrange meetings with management. The National Executive Committee took the decision in November 2009 to cancel further meetings because our agenda items are covered at other tables such as: National Labour-Management Consultation Committee, National Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee or bi-lateral meetings with various CSC managers. The effectiveness and composition of this particular committee had been questionable since the committee’s beginning. The National Executive Committee looked at reorganising the focus and direction of this committee. Given all the different files this committee was responsible for and the National Executive Committee’s members sitting on the different committees and bilats, we decided that this committee would be better served made up of the members of the National Executive Committee. We have also gone through three different Director Generals of Security which in itself has posed many problems. We have scheduled a meeting for June 7th, 2010 and will evaluate how this new composition and new DG of Security serves the union.
In conclusion, the Prairies Region, given its geographical layout will continue to be a challenge to not only those holding regional positions, but to our Local Executives as well. That being said, I still believe we, in the Prairies, are all up for the challenge that the next three years and negotiations will bring.
Prairies Regional President