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Comrades,

Three years have gone by since the National General Assembly in Kingston where you elected me as your National President. These three years that have sped by so quickly that I can clearly recall, as if it was yesterday, my very first day on the job as the UCCO­-SACC-CSN National President. Right away, during that first week, the National Executive Committee got together and during that same week, we had our first National Labour-Management meeting with the CSC. Not a lot of time to leisurely get used to the task of being National President.

However, being the National President of our union is something that can’t be learned out of a book, but rather “in the trenches”, obviously with the guidance and assistance of all kinds of people around you.

I very quickly realized that this position demands a 24/7 commitment. One should never forget that our union’s activities take place across four different time zones, which means that the days can be rather long. After three years, I can affirm that the position to which you elected me has not been a piece of cake and in my report to you today, I will try to take stock of these past three years.

However, before jumping into the meat of my report, I’d like to look back and recall a few important things. In 1999, I was present when we laid the foundations of UCCO­SACC-CSN. Our principal goals at the time were notably to develop our capacity as a union of correctional officers to negotiate a collective agreement that would mirror who we are, to raise people’s awareness of us as professionals, so as to try to explode the myth of the corrupt and seedy correctional officer that is all too often conveyed in Hollywood movies and finally, to represent our members as effectively as possible.

Right from the outset, we built ourselves an effective union structure that would be capable of acting on behalf of all our members at the local, regional and national levels, as well as in the political and public arena.

The job has not always been an easy one, but over the past nine years, I honestly believe that we have attained the goals that we set out to achieve when we created our union.

I would like to draw your attention to two significant factors, and I will never repeat it often enough, that have played a key role in our success: the members who have been involved day-in and day-out in our union tasks and the CSN, through the collaboration of its office staff and union staff representatives who work every day with UCCO-SACC­CSN, as well as all the employees in the other CSN services who have given us their support depending on our needs.

Today, I’d like to thank everyone who, over the past few years, has been actively involved and given their time to make our union a vibrant and dynamic organization. I’m speaking directly here to all the members of our Local Union Executive Committees, the various national committees, the Regional Executive Committees and finally, my comrades on the National Executive Committee: Doug Hayhurst, National Vice-President, Paul Harrigan, Atlantic Regional President, Jason Godin, Ontario Regional President, Pierre Dumont, Québec Regional President, Kevin Grabowsky, Prairies Regional President and Gord Robertson, Pacific Regional President.

It’s thanks to all of you that UCCO-SACC-CSN has become what it is today.

I’d like to draw your attention here to the departure of two of my comrades-in-arms on the National Executive Committee who have decided to not solicit another mandate. Paul Harrigan, who has been one of the pillars of our union organization in the Atlantic Region. His commitment to UCCO-SACC-CSN and its members, his combativeness and his energy will surely be missed. I want to thank him for all that he’s done as a member of the National Executive Committee over the past nine years and for the unconditional support that he has provided to me over the past three years.

Doug Hayhurst, another pillar from the very beginning. Doug was even fired by Chris Price, who was the Institutional Warden at Edmonton Max Institution at the time. He was fired because he was advocating the creation of a union of correctional officers and because he refused to be intimidated by the CSC. Doug has succeeded, thanks to his relentless work ethic, in leaving our finances in very good shape. I would also like to thank him for the six years that he has spent on our National Executive Committee, as well as for his support over the past three years.

I want to wish my two good comrades a fulfilling end to their careers as correctional officers in their respective institutions.

I’ve learned over the past three years that problems don’t get resolved by yelling “fire”. I’ve understood that one has to be patient and work relentlessly, that one has to think things over and be creative to identify solutions and settle problems to the satisfaction of our members.

I often say that it’s easier to go to war than to find solutions, but at the end of the day, our union work involves, most of the time, a matter of finding solutions to problems. We can’t always be at war. But don’t get me wrong: when one must go to war, I’m ready, whether it’s the CSC, the Treasury Board or the Government.

Let me finish this preamble by saying to you that I am proud of having worked beside you all over these past three years and I want to sincerely thank you for your support.

NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

The National Executive Committee, in the course of my mandate, held some 26 meetings, as well as several telephone conference calls. The preparation of each of these meetings is demanding and requires all my attention, because it’s during these meetings that the National Executive Committee debates the different problems that are submitted to it and this is also where we prepare for the National Labour-Management meetings. Sometimes, we invite members from the various national committees to come exchange and discuss with us to ensure that they understand and share the orientations of our union.

Several committees have been active during the past mandate, including the:

-National Safety and Security Committee;
-National Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee;
-Uniform Committee;
-Return to Work Programs Committee;
-Employee Assistance Program Committee;
-Firearms Committee;
-Deployment Standard Committee;
-Training Committee;
-Work Schedules Committee;
-Security Equipment Committee;
-Protective Vest Committee;
-Job Descriptions Committee;
-Management of high-risk female inmates Working Committee;
-Gangs Committee;
-Recruitment Committee;
-Grievance pilot project Committee;
-Management of high-risk female inmates Committee;
-and finally, the union’s Audit Committee.

All of these committees, with the exception of the union’s Audit Committee, are CSC – UCCO-SACC-CSN working committees on which union representatives and CSN union advisors both participate.

Meanwhile, our National Webmaster presented a report to the National Executive Committee on the state of our union’s Web site. Following this report, changes were made and you have certainly noticed an improvement in the quality of our union’s Web site. I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that there are five of our members who take care of our site, and that they do so on a volunteer basis.

During the present mandate, our Regional Presidents, as well as the union advisors have participated, within our Local Unions, in Local Executive meetings and general assemblies, on labour relations committees, as well as grievance committees.

All these members who participate in these various union activities ensure that we are as effective as possible in performing our daily tasks.

I must finally pay tribute to the CSN National Coordinator of Services who usually accompanies the National Executive Committee in carrying out its responsibilities. This position was occupied until quite recently by Michel Gauthier, who has been with us over the past nine years. Éric Lévesque has recently replaced him.

Michel, with your departure, we are losing one very exceptional comrade who has devoted himself to our cause, we, correctional officers. On a more personal note, I’m sort of breaking up with a person who has made me into the trade unionist that I am today. I will always be proud to say that I worked alongside Michel Gauthier and that I shared a form of complicity with him that goes well beyond the simple expression of “co-worker.”

NATIONAL LABOUR-MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE MEETINGS

On May 19, 2007, which was exactly one week after I was elected, I found myself at the same table as the CSC Commissioner. Despite all the union experience that I had acquired over the years, I wasn’t entirely prepared for this meeting, but, come what may, I barrelled ahead. However, I was very well supported and helped by the other members of the National Executive Committee who, for the most part, already had experience and were very familiar with the dossiers that we had to discuss. I thus only had to preside the meeting of the union representatives in attendance.

At the end of this meeting, I was proud of the work of the National Executive Committee and I can tell you today that at subsequent meetings, I was more than ready and capable of playing my role.

These labour-management meetings, where we stand head-to-head with senior CSC management, is the forum where we discuss the various files that have not been resolved at the regional level, as well as the major orientations and subjects that concern us as a union.

During this mandate, we have dealt with two Commissioners, three Senior Deputy Commissioners, three Directors of Compensation and Labour Relations, three Assistant Commissioners Human Resource Management, without mentioning several other personnel changes that occurred in the labour relations area. We have also dealt with four Director Generals Security.

Some of the changes at these high level positions transpired without creating too many difficulties for the union. However, in other cases, they compromised the union’s capacity to function, and this, specifically with regard to labour relations. Stability hasn’t been the hallmark that currently describes the CSC’s operations.

LABOUR-MANAGEMENT MEETINGS — FSW

The presidents of the Local Unions in the institutions for women, accompanied by members of the National Executive Committee, have had the privilege, for several years now, of meeting biannually with the Deputy Commissioner for Women to discuss subjects that are unique to this sector. Five meetings have taken place since May 2007. One of the problems that we have run into over the past few years has been the lack of consistency, because during the present mandate, there have been four different incumbents who have held the top position.

I would also like to point out that over the past three years, the problems in these institutions have been considerable. I would primarily like to refer to the incidents that occurred at the Grand Valley Institution, problems that were generated by the presence of high-risk inmates and the flagrant lack of resources (female correctional officers), which gave rise to considerable mandatory overtime.

Several other dossiers have not been resolved, primarily due to the repeated changes in the Deputy Commissioner for Women’s office and probably also due to the Federal Government’s lack of resolve in supporting the CSC with the necessary budget allocations, or perhaps simply the CSC’s lack of resolve to properly deal with the situation. Each time that there is a change at the top, the union has to start several dossiers all over again from scratch.

In light of my experience over the past three years, I sometimes wonder whether we shouldn’t suggest to the CSC that they simply abolish the position of Deputy Commissioner for Women, which would mean that these institutions would be dealt with on the same level as all the other penitentiaries in Canada.

During the GVI events, I had to clearly communicate UCCO-SACC-CSN’s steadfast position to the Commissioner, namely, that we were determined, as a union, to not abandon our members and leave them without any defence or protection, as was the case in the mid-1990s during the incidents that occurred at the institution for women in Kingston, known at the time as P4W.

I would like to reread here the statement that I made in November 2007, which was just a few weeks after the Ashley Smith incident.

Mr. Commissioner,

In the mid-1990s, we lived through certain events at the Kingston prison for women. These events brought the image of the correctional officers who worked for the CSC into disrepute.

After these incidents, a Board of Inquiry was set up. Judge Arbour presided over this Board and wrote a report on her findings. This report made several recommendations, which resulted in changes in how to deal with women inmates.

The incidents at Grand Valley will likely have a significant impact upon how to deal with women inmates, as well. Already, women’s groups who defend the interests of female inmates are demanding a public investigation to shed light on the unfortunate incidents surrounding the death of inmate Smith.

Mr. Commissioner, UCCO-SACC-CSN has no intention of abandoning GVI correctional officers.

Mr. Commissioner, our members have been very disappointed with your public pronouncements, as well as those of the Minister of Public Safety.

Indeed, Grand Valley correctional officers, as well as correctional officers all across Canada feel that the CSC and the Minister of Public Safety have abandoned them.

Mr. Commissioner, I repeat, UCCO-SACC-CSN has no intention of remaining silent in such a situation. Our members who are affected by CSC decisions will be supported, and will be defended by their Union.

We know full well that the CSC does not exercise control over decisions regarding criminal accusations, but we do expect that with regard to disciplinary investigations all the elements surrounding this situation will be fully taken into account.

What happened at the GVI institution is unfortunate. This incident could have taken place in any of the institutions for women across Canada.

In our opinion, what occurred at GVI was foreseeable. I do not mean to say that we told you so, but for six years now, the Union has demanded, pleaded and requested that the CSC clarify how correctional officers should be working in the institutions for women.

We have regularly asked that the Commissioner’s Directives apply everywhere, consistently and uniformly, in both the institutions for men and for women.

On several occasions, we have asked that should the Commissioner’s Directives in effect not be applied in the institutions for women, then clear and precise directives that do apply to women inmates should be issued.
To date, the CSC has always refused to listen to us regarding these proposals. The consequences of this refusal have led to a situation where ambiguity now exists in the work that correctional officers are required to perform in the prisons for women.

In addition, over the years, this has had the effect of making correctional officers hesitate before taking action, before making decisions in the course of their work.

Mr. Commissioner, in a workplace such as ours, our members are professionals who in order to be effective must have clear guidelines, and we can openly affirm today that this has not been the case for several years now in the institutions for women.

As a result of a desire to micro-manage the work of the CSC’s correctional officers, the latter have lost some of their instincts, and in a milieu such as the one where we work, we have to be able to trust our instincts.
Mr. Commissioner, in the fall 2005, UCCO-SACC-CSN submitted a document to the CSC entitled “New national strategies for high-risk women”. In this document, we put forward specific proposals designed to properly deal with high-risk women.

Mr. Commissioner, I affirm today that had our proposals been put into effect, we would not be here today speaking about the GVI incident.

In conclusion, Mr. Commissioner, October 24 and 25 have been very trying days for the members we represent. The CSC had decided to suspend seven correctional officers without pay and amongst these seven officers, three have been charged with criminal offenses.

In addition, the CSC has implied that it does not intend to take up the defence of its employees. Fortunately, after discussions between the CSC and UCCO-SACC-CSN, the CSC decided to restore the salaries of our suspended members.

I want to thank you for this decision. This decision has helped reduce some of the tension, both at GVI, and in other institutions across Canada.

Mr. Commissioner, some of our members who have been criminally charged in connection with these events will be submitting a request for financial assistance to cover some of their legal bills. We expect their request to be accepted.

This position, taken by UCCO-SACC-CSN, was a major commitment, because I was announcing the union’s colours for a battle that was about to take place. Today, two and a half years later, I can affirm that we won this battle, and this, thanks to the solidarity demonstrated by our union members, as well as the unwavering support of the CSN.

During this meeting, the Ontario Regional President will summarize the key events that took place in this dossier.

MID-MANDATE

The September 16, 17 and 18, 2008 mid-mandate meeting in Montreal, attended by all the Local Union Presidents, as well as the Vice-Presidents and Secretary-Treasurers from our five regions, the members of the National Executive Committee and our CSN union staff representatives, was an enriching experience for everyone involved.

We had the opportunity, amongst ourselves, to take stock of the preparation and consultation process that preceded the most recent round of bargaining and, by the same token, to discuss how we should prepare the forthcoming 2010 negotiations. We also talked about mobilization and the pressure tactics we used during the last round of bargaining. This exercise enabled us to think about what methods and approaches we might use in the future.

Following these discussions, we concluded that what we did during the last round was very acceptable and that we should plan to work in a similar fashion during the next round of bargaining.

We also had discussions, in smaller groups (by levels of security), regarding the problems that are typical of the different groups. Finally, after looking at the findings of a survey conducted amongst our Local Union Presidents, we discussed the vitality and dynamics of our Local Unions and how we might go about improving it.

These three days were very rewarding and worthwhile for our union. I think that during the 2010-2013 mandate the union should redo this kind of meeting in order to help our activists to continue brainstorming about how to enrich and strengthen our union’s operations and vitality.

NATIONAL JOINT COUNCIL

As the union’s representative at the National Joint Council, I participated in almost all its meetings, regularly accompanied by the CSN National Coordinator of Services. We also participated in most meetings of the union caucus, that are generally held the day before the official NJC meeting.

The National Joint Council is a forum where we can seek improvements to the directives covered by article 44 of our collective agreement. These directives are revised according to a certain timetable; modifications to them can thus not be negotiated at any old time.

Some of them do not necessarily apply to correctional officers, but, seeing as we are all Federal Government employees and the unions are all covered by the Public Service Labour Relations Act, it is wise for us to participate in all the discussions.

The National Joint Council – union caucus is also a consensus-building forum which groups together the 18 Federal Public Service unions whenever a common position might be necessary to deal with certain situations, such as the lawsuit initiated against the Federal Government for walking off with billions of dollars from our pension fund surplus. In this case, the unions lost the first round against the Federal Government in the Court of first instance. Currently, the lawyers retained by the unions are preparing to launch an appeal, which should be heard sometime in 2010.

I’d like to thank the CSN that has accepted, on behalf of UCCO-SACC-CSN, to defray our union’s share of the costs involved in pursuing this lawsuit.

Over the past year, I had raised some questions about the operations of the union caucus. Following these questions, it was agreed to hold a two-day meeting in January to take stock of how we work. Following these two days of discussions, I believe that we will be able to improve the operations of the union caucus, and this, so as to ensure that the relatively smaller unions are no longer beholden to the two big public service unions. I hope that the discussions that took place will improve the manner in which we make our decisions, the whole in keeping with elementary rules of respect, solidarity and democracy, because it’s important to underscore that all the unions present don’t all operate in the same way, hence the necessity for us all to be on the same wavelength.

THE COMMITTEES

Recruitment

The CSC decided to re-examine its image in order to improve, amongst other things, its ability to recruit candidates and become an employer of choice in the federal public service. As a union, we found this project interesting and insisted upon participating in the work of this committee. After my initial discussions with certain members of the National Executive Committee, I participated in the development of a recruitment plan for prospective correctional officers. We had numerous discussions with the CSC on how to go about improving the quality of the selection of future recruits. In addition, we insisted upon the fact that the CSC should pay recruits as was the case in the past and as is done currently with RCMP recruits, again as a means for improving the quality of the recruits.

At a certain point in time, the CSC decided to accelerate this endeavour and created a task force devoted to the CSC's image in connection with recruitment. Following this decision, we proposed that the union be a part of this task force. The CSC finally accepted our proposal and we delegated two union representatives to sit on this task force. Most of the work was completed last December.

We are now awaiting the practical results from this initiative. According to the CSC person responsible for this working committee, the final decisions regarding the new image and recruitment will be made known in the spring 2010.

Training

The National Training Committee was very busy during the present mandate. Under the watchful eye of the National Executive Committee, a working committee was created to review all the content and training programs from the beginning of a correctional officer’s career until their retirement.

The “CSC – UCCO-SACC-CSN” working committee produced a document on this subject and made 22 recommendations. As a union, we can affirm that we were totally involved in the development of the training programs. We believe that our involvement will be beneficial and worthwhile for all correctional officers.

As a result of the committee's work, the National Executive Committee was involved in determining the annual National Training Standards. This part of the job has not given rise to what we were hoping for. There are a number of divergences between the CSC and the union on what the National Training Standards should be. We hope to complete this dossier before the 2011-2012 National Training Standards are established.

Finally, since the implementation of the new deployment standards, each correctional officer is required to have nine training days per year. In order to ensure that our members are given the training days to which they are entitled, the executive committees of each Local Union will have to discuss training on a regular basis at their monthly Labour-Management meetings. I remind you that our collective agreement enables us to discuss training matters: if we want our members to enjoy the training days to which they are entitled, it is up to each Local Union to see to it that the Institutional Wardens make these training sessions a reality.

Prior to April 2009, we were entitled to an average of five training days annually, which was never really complied with. For many years, the union would ask the CSC to increase the number of training days. Now that the institutions’ budgets provide for nine training days, it’s up to us to make it all happen.

Working committee on security

Following discussions with the Commissioner, it was agreed to set up a task force made up of four people (two from the CSC and two from UCCO-SACC-CSN) to determine the operational situation in four medium-security institutions. In addition, this committee was asked to comment on and make recommendations on a number of subjects including the shortcomings between passive security practices and sanctioned policies or legislation, to determine exemplary practices where active security practices are applied, to determine possible policy modifications or any elements that hinder the effective implementation of security practices, etc. Once again, the union’s goal was clear: get involved in our work organization to improve how we do our work.

The committee's report, containing 30 recommendations, was sent out to all our Local Unions. Following this most productive exercise, we should propose to the CSC to extend this committee’s mandate so that it could carry out similar analyzes in other institutions.

At the joint meeting held on February 3, 2010 with the Institutional Wardens, as well as our Local Union Presidents, some of the subjects contained in this report were used as a basis for our discussions.

High-risk female inmates

In the fall 2005, the union proposed to the CSC that we modify our approach to how we deal with high-risk female inmates. According to what I’ve been given to understand, the Commissioner at that time didn’t really pay a lot of attention to our proposals. However, in the fall 2007, after the Grand Valley Institution incident, the CSC was searching all over for the document that we had submitted in 2005, and we promptly handed over to them again.

Following this incident, the CSC quickly set up working groups to identify solutions to prevent other similar situations from happening again. We insisted, as a union, to be included in one of the working committees. The UCCO-SACC-CSN representatives who participated on this committee also participated in drafting one of the reports whose goal was to improve the situation of high-risk female inmates. Once again, our expertise was very useful. To the best of my knowledge, the work of these committees was completed in the spring 2008. However, nothing has of yet been formally put into place other than writing new directives to protect the CSC, but not to improve the daily lives of the high-risk female inmates in question.

Perhaps one of the difficulties in the women’s sector is that, since 2005, there have been four different Deputy Commissioners for Women. Perhaps that’s why nothing’s happened there over the past five years.

Grievances We discussed at length with the CSC the establishment of a pilot project to better deal with all our grievances. Finally, after more than a year of discussions, we reached an agreement with the CSC to set up five pilot projects (one per region) in an attempt to resolve an impressive number of grievances.

During the first six months of 2009, a lot of effort was put into getting Local Grievance Committees to work smoothly, and notwithstanding numerous obstacles, I believe that this pilot project was a success. In each region, there were many grievances that were settled, withdrawn or referred to arbitration. All the work that was put into this project was most “worthwhile” for our members. I hope that over the next few years, we will be able to continue working with this approach to resolving outstanding grievances. We must, as a union, continue to make use of the Local Grievance Committees stipulated in the global agreement.

MAJOR CHALLENGES

Over the past three years, the union has been confronted with a number of major challenges. I would like to take a few minutes to briefly recall some of them to you.

Grand Valley Institution This dossier kept us busy for nearly two years. A lot of energy was invested to support our members in this epic clash. At the end of the day, our efforts were not in vain. We reached seven satisfactory settlements for the seven members involved.

What this dossier proved to me is crystal clear: as a union, we are capable of accomplishing some big things when we decide to collectively roll up our sleeves and get the job done. Once again, I want to draw your attention to the critical role played by the CSN throughout this whole battle.

Second-hand smoke After the CSC decided to definitively institute a no smoking policy inside the prison fences following the inmates failure to comply with the regulations which allowed them to smoke only outside the buildings, a Tribunal of first instance is now compelling the CSC to re-authorize smoking inside the prison fences. Fortunately, the CSC has decided to appeal this decision. This case will be heard in the months to come.

If ever the CSC should lose in appeal, I’m really anxious to see how one person’s right to smoke will be reconciled with someone else’s right to not breathe in the second-hand smoke that the former exhales and this, for all non-smokers (both inmates and personnel). We’ll have to think about what kind of actions we can take in order to have our rights respected.

Protective vests

Over the years, we have sought to protect ourselves from handcrafted knifes. Finally, the CSC agreed with the union that all employees working in maximum-security institutions would be entitled to have a stab-resistant vest and as would also be the case for employees working in segregation units in medium-security institutions. Once these initial discussions had been completed, it was decided that all correctional officers working in medium-security institutions would have a stab-resistant vest, which should become a reality sometime in 2010.

We had proposed to the CSC that they purchase more modern vests, in other words, lighter, stab-resistant and protective vests. Our voices weren’t heard, and we were told that “the order has already been made, it’s too late and impossible to change it.” Several months later, we realized that the order had in fact not been made at the time of our discussions and that it would have surely been possible to revise the entire operation. It appears to me that there are some people at the CSC that we can’t really trust. I’d say that the procurement department is probably the least transparent of them all. Over the years, one learns one’s lessons.

OC spray

As I’m writing these lines, there’s a pilot project under way in certain Ontario institutions in connection with having OC spray worn on the correctional officer’s belt. I’m hoping that the project will be conclusive, because as a work instrument, OC spray is very dissuasive and much less repressive than a strong-arm intervention of the emergency response team or the use of firearms.

Symposium on intimidation

As National President, I was called upon to work with various groups associated with our justice system, including the CSC, to prepare a conference to examine threats and intimidation directed at official representatives of our justice system. In addition to preparing the symposium, in cooperation with the CSC, I accepted the responsibility for shooting a video on the kind of intimidation that CSC employees can be subjected to, and more specifically, correctional officers. The video, nearly 30 minutes long, was very well received by all the participants, including the 30-some correctional officers who attended the symposium in October 2008, in Québec City. This video, with the consent of the people involved, can now be used as a training tool with recruits, as well as with anyone who works for the CSC. I’m very proud of this initiative, as well as the positive light that this video has shone on the professionalism of UCCO-SACC-CSN.

2010 Negotiations 

It seems like it was just yesterday: already four years have flown by since we signed the last collective agreement. We are now getting ready to pick up where we left off and to engage in sustained discussions so that we will succeed in achieving the demands made by our members.

These negotiations will take place in a difficult context. First of all, the Harper Government has already decreed what our salary increase will be for the first year of our collective agreement and this, after having already amputated one half per cent from our 2009-2010 salary increases. This cutback was difficult to digest, because I’ve already heard people at the Treasury Board telling us “an agreement is an agreement, you’ve gotta live with it.” The Treasury Board has not kept its word vis-à-vis the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers. The present round of bargaining is thus getting under way under this dubious cloud.

During the tour we undertook to consult with our members to prepare our proposals in the fall 2009, they suggested numerous changes to our collective agreement and the global agreement. In December 2009, the members of the bargaining committee got together to undertake an initial analysis. In February, we had a second meeting and we completed our work in March 2010. With the announcements made in the Federal budget, we decided to wait for the National General Assembly to discuss our next round of bargaining. Immediately after this meeting, we will embark upon a tour to see our members to present them with our bargaining proposals. This round of bargaining will not be an easy one, but I believe that we are going to find a way to be as realistic as possible in what we ask for. We hope that we’ll be able to quickly agree upon the subjects that will be negotiated with the Treasury Board, as well as those to be negotiated with the CSC.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you all that the bargaining committee is made up of the National President, the five Regional Presidents, as well as the CSN National Coordinator of Services.

During these negotiations, we will do what we have to keep you informed, to keep you up to date via meetings with our Regional Executives and once we will have transmitted the information, it will be up to the Local Unions Presidents to inform their respective executive committees, as well as the members of their Local Unions on the situation at the bargaining table.

Another key element should be kept in mind: we are the first major group to sit down to negotiate with the Treasury Board. The eyes of all the other unionized federal bargaining units will be focused on us. Our every move will be closely scrutinized, because in contrast to the last round of bargaining, we’ve earned the respect of most of the other federal public service unions, who have realized that our last collective agreement was a significant milestone and everyone who has taken the time to read the fine print has told us that it was a very good deal.

We have laid out a set of realistic bargaining proposals. We are going to invest all our energy in convincing our vis-à-vis of the merits of the demands being made by our UCCO-SACC-CSN members.

As a conclusion to this part of my report, I’d like to issue you a word of caution: one of the most difficult aspects to manage during any negotiation, are the rumours. Let me make it very clear to you today, if there isn’t an information leaflet coming from the bargaining committee, it’s because there’s really nothing to report to you and if there are rumours circulating about, they’re simply not true. Please believe me, we have to convince our members to be patient and to wait for the information until it is distributed officially. Please, let’s not become slaves to the rumour mill.

Pension

During the present mandate, we have continued our meetings with various politicians in order to make improvements to our pension benefits. It’s important to recall that the Conservative Party promised us to improve our pension benefits, a promise which has not yet materialized. In my office, I still have the letter sent to us by the Conservative Party, which spells out this commitment. I’m not embarrassed to show it to anyone. I hope that Mr. Harper and his Government will show us some respect in our upcoming negotiations.

In 2008, we also continued our public campaign to improve our pension benefits. We met with several MPs and Government Ministers to remind them of the commitment made by the Conservative Party. We also met with the leaders of the other political parties, as well as with a good number of MPs to solicit their support for this matter.

In 2010, we will continue to campaign on this issue. As we’ve said in the past, to bolster our cause, I would like to encourage you to speak to your local MPs and especially to Conservative MPs to remind them that correctional officers are still waiting for their pension benefit improvements and this, as was promised to us by the Conservative Party.

The right to be represented 

Since 2001, namely ever since UCCO-SACC-CSN was certified, we have repeatedly experienced difficulties in being recognized as the representative of our members at various meetings, hearings or disciplinary inquiries, as well as at administrative inquiries, hearings or inquiries conducted by the employer.

Today, we believe that this problem has finally been resolved. During the summer 2009, the union, after much negotiation, finally signed an agreement with the CSC that clarifies the rights of our members to be represented at all kinds of inquiries. As a result, today, there can no longer be any wardens who can refuse the presence of a union representative.

At the time of any inquiry, we are entitled to record whatever is being said there. We are entitled to take notes and at the end of the meeting, the recording and the notes we take belong to us. It is out of the question, and under no circumstances, should they be left with anyone else. In order to safeguard this agreement, we have made a few modifications to our bargaining proposals. The dictatorship era in this matter is now decidedly over.

But as I know the CSC only too well, there will surely be one warden somewhere who will tell us that the signed agreement is not all that clear and that a given employee is not entitled to be represented and that the union representative’s role is ambiguous. Don’t allow them to trample over your rights. Should any employer refuse to allow any member to be represented, refuse to have the meeting, refuse to participate in the inquiry, refuse to let the hearing proceed.

Videos 

We are working on a project to shoot two videos, the first one was to be used as a training tool for our union officer training sessions. This video should be helpful to us in improving the workings of our union executives, in the work we do during Labour-Management meetings and finally, on how to conduct Local Union General Assemblies.

The theme of the second video will be our union’s history. We have realized that since the day that our union was certified, a little more than nine years ago, more than half of our current members have been hired and thus have less than nine years seniority. We thought that it would be worthwhile to perhaps create an instrument that would recount our union’s history.

I believe that it’s indispensable that the members of our union be made aware of our origins, who we are and why we are UCCO-SACC-CSN. I am working on this dossier with the help of a few CSN union staff representatives. In addition, the CSN has accepted to defray the cost of making these two videos.

CSN SERVICES

Over the past three years, we have had the benefit of receiving many services from numerous CSN resources. I would like to present here a list of the union staff representatives and advisors from the different CSN services who have worked with us, as well as the team that is assigned to work exclusively with UCCO-SACC-CSN, in addition to a few people who often collaborate with the CSN, without being CSN employees.

  • Nathalie Joncas, actuary, our guru in the pension plan dossier;
  • Claude Rioux, who occasionally does research work for us;
  • François Massie and Georges Étienne Tremblay, union advisors who defends work accident victims and also act as an occupational health and safety instructors;
  • François Lamoureux and Guy Martin, Heads of the CSN legal department, who have worked with us on several legal matters;
  • Daniel Charest, Julie Sanogo, Éric Lévesque, Yvan Malo, Marie Pepin, Anne Pineau, Mario Évangéliste, Richard Baillargeon, Marjorie Houle, Andrea Talarico, Isabelle Lacas, Catherine Sauvé and Gérard Notebaert, lawyers in the CSN’s legal department;
  • Lyle Stewart, union advisor, CSN communications department;
  • Ginette Beausoleil and Lucie Michaud, union advisors in the CSN’s audit department;
  • The accounting department staff;
  • Éric Morin, union staff representative, organization department;
  • Richard Lanthier and Isabelle Ménard, labour relations department – research module;
  • Marc Larocque, computer services;
  • Legal firms outside the Ontario, Pacific and Québec regions;
  • Jean Gladu, graphic designer;
  • Michel Giroux, photographer;
  • Pierre Tremblay, filmmaker;
  • Allen Gottheil and Hélène Paré, translators.
  • And finally, the team that works with us on a daily basis:
  • Angela Gauthier and Louise Dorris (retired), office employees, Abbotsford;
  • Corinne Blanchette, union advisor, Pacific Region;
  • Lise Champagne, office employee, Edmonton;
  • Jessie Caron, union advisor, Prairies Region;
  • Marie-Paule Fauvel, office employee, Kingston;
  • Michel Bouchard, union advisor, Ontario Region;
  • Catherine Guérard, Sylvie Poirier and Lorraine Lafrance (retired), office employees, Montréal;
  • Ariane Pelletier, union advisor, Québec Region;
  • Robert Deschambault, union advisor, Québec Region (currently on leave for union business);
  • Ginette Gauvin, office employee, Moncton;
  • John Mancini, union advisor, Atlantic and Québec Regions;
  • Éric Lévesque and Michel Gauthier (retired), National Coordinators of Services.

As you can see, several CSN employees, as well as many outside resources provided by the CSN have worked and been involved with us. In addition, all the CSN union advisors who are assigned to UCCO-SACC-CSN participate, along with the members of the National Executive Committee, on various national committees. In your name and on my own behalf, I would like to thank them all for the important work that they have done with us. I am convinced that we will be able to continue to rely on this extraordinary union machine. Thank you one and all.

THE MEDIA

We have continued to be present in the media each and every time that it has been necessary or when the opportunity to speak out publicly has been offered to us and such an intervention is judged to be positive and worthwhile in advancing the interests of correctional officers.

During the present mandate, the GVI dossier has clearly been the one to which the media has given the most coverage and I’d have to say, generally speaking, that this coverage has been good. With only one notable exception: the CBC program The Fifth Estate, which in my opinion painted a negative portrait of federal correctional officers. The editing and approach taken by this program was done in a sensationalist fashion. I would however like to draw your attention to the fact that the Ontario Regional President, Jason Godin, did an excellent job on this program, notwithstanding the many traps that were set for him by the program’s host.

Despite all our efforts to cultivate a professional image for our members, this program made us look like people who had no compassion, which is entirely the opposite of who we really are.

In addition, the correctional investigator in the Blackwind dossier, with the collaboration of the media, also tried to get the public to believe that the correctional officers in this situation neglected to act and just let the inmate die. We have also been associated with charges of racism, which is likewise entirely untrue! Two different inquiries clearly demonstrated that racism was not an issue that was related to the unfortunate death of this inmate. Of course, no retraction was ever published. Indeed, the point I’m trying to make here is that correctional officers are always being scrutinized and that our work can always be criticized.

I continue to affirm that we are all professionals and we are called upon to exercise a most difficult and challenging profession.

BILATERAL MEETINGS

In addition to National Labour-Management meetings, we meet regularly with the Heads of Labour Relations at National Headquarters. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss and resolve all kinds of dossiers, such as the interpretation of the collective agreement and the global agreement, the application of the latter, the application of arbitration awards that are either won or lost, the CSC's orientation in terms of labour relations, the negotiation of national agreements outside of the designated period for renewing our collective agreement. In point of fact, we discuss numerous problems at the national level that, for one reason or another, cannot be resolved in our Local Unions or at the regional level.

The CSC has shown a certain resolve to discuss and settle certain problems. However, the solutions are not always obvious. Often, it takes months and months to finalize a dossier. Our determination and goals are clear however: we have to continue these meetings with the Heads of Labour Relations at National Headquarters, as often as necessary.

FEBRUARY 3, 2010 MEETING

Last February 3, a meeting was held with the Commissioner, the Institutional Wardens, the Regional ADCIOs, the Local Union Presidents, the Vice-Presidents and Secretary-Treasurers from our Regional Executives, as well as the members of our National Executive Committee. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss work organization, disciplining inmates, training and the equipment we need to do our job. This meeting was prepared jointly and I can say that we made an excellent choice of subjects for our discussions.

There must however be concrete results that come out of these discussions. It was thus agreed to set up a follow-up committee whose only goal would be to prepare an action plan that we would use (employer-employee) to improve work organization. I’m convinced that what will come out of this meeting will be beneficial to the CSC as a whole.

Perhaps, over the course of the next mandate, we should discuss again with the CSC the possibility of organizing another meeting like this one, to discuss different subjects of common interest to us both.

DEPLOYMENT

This dossier has taken up an enormous amount of the National Executive Committee’s time. In 2003, the Commissioner at that time set up a working committee, made up solely of employer representatives, to review the deployment norms in each of institution. Right from the beginning, we had to fight with the Commissioner to participate in the process. But the CSC turned a deaf ear to our demands during the first year of deliberations on the deployment issue. It was only in 2006 that we became genuinely involved in the discussions on the new deployment standards.

After consultations with our Local Unions, we frantically negotiated the new deployment standards, the number of positions and the number of correctional officers per position, as well as a summary description of the duties linked to each position.

Before implementing the new deployment standards in the spring 2009, the union still had numerous objections. We had wanted to resolve all the problems before the new deployment standards would come into force. But the CSC decided, all the same, to implement these new standards in the spring 2009. The Commissioner had implied to us that after the new standards came into effect, we would nonetheless be able to continue discussions regarding the different problems and if we were able to demonstrate that certain standards should be revised, the CSC would be open to discussing them and identifying solutions, where possible.

I have to say that the Commissioner kept his word. We have succeeded in negotiating adjustments in several institutions. Just a few weeks ago, I was once again involved in revising the deployment standards in two Ontario institutions.

I can affirm today, notwithstanding my reservations a little more than a year ago, that the process of implementing the new deployment standards is well under way and that we continue to improve the conditions under which our members do their job, through negotiations.

Each time that we succeed in correcting and improving the deployment standards, our members have generally been satisfied. In addition, I can also affirm that the Institutional Wardens are also grateful for the work being done in this dossier by UCCO-SACC-CSN. Over the next mandate, the National Executive Committee will have to remain involved in this dossier.

CORRECTIONAL REVIEW PANEL

The National Executive Committee had several meetings with Mr. Sampson’s working group. We also tabled a position paper with Mr. Sampson, where we pleaded in favour of a certain number of recommendations.

When the Correctional Review Panel Report was made public, we saw that some of the union’s recommendations had been retained. I seriously believe that if the Federal Government were to give the CSC the necessary means to implement most of the recommendations contained in this report, how we do our jobs would change and the inmates’ reintegration into the community would be improved. Ultimately, it would be Canadian society that would come out the winner.

POLITICAL MEETINGS

Recently, the Prime Minister of Canada reshuffled his cabinet. As in the past, we wrote to certain recently appointed Ministers to try to meet with them, and to explain our major concerns, as a union of correctional officers, to them.

First of all, we’d like to talk with the new Minister responsible for the Treasury Board, Mr. Stockwell Day, about the Government's orientations with regard to the renewal of our collective agreements over the coming years. I hope that the Minister will accept our invitation, because when he was Minister of Public Safety, we had the opportunity to meet with him several times and at these meetings, he showed an openness to discussing our concerns.

We also asked for a meeting with the new Minister of Public Safety, Mr. Vic Toews, to discuss certain dossiers that were on the desk of his predecessors, but that have yet to be completed. We hope to discuss with him our position paper dealing with contaminated blood, as well as the demands made by the lobby “Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network” who advocate having syringes given to inmates so that they can shoot their illegal drugs into themselves without endangering their health.

We have already taken a position on this subject; the National Executive Committee’s position has not changed. We disagree with instituting a syringe exchange. We should not be exploring schemes to allow inmates to shoot themselves up with drugs safely, but rather the appropriate techniques for preventing drugs from getting into the institutions in the first place.

In addition, we will reaffirm to the Minister, and this, in contrast to what the Under the Skin magazine claims, correctional officers are not the ones who are smuggling drugs into the institutions. I can’t affirm that this absolutely never occurs, but from there to claiming that drugs are getting into our institutions primarily by way of correctional officers is more than a stretch, it is a totally unfounded assertion.

This lobby is trying to discredit us, because we disagree with their proposal. Accordingly, unless our members say otherwise, our position remains the same: No syringes, period.

WORK PLAN

When I was elected National President of our union, I set myself a certain number of goals that I hoped to achieve and that I shared with the members of the National Executive Committee. I’d like to make a list of some of these goals with you right now: I wanted to improve our means of communications to our members; I wanted to stay as close as possible to the membership and in the course of my first year as President, I wanted to visit each and every institution to meet with our members; I was hoping that in the course of my mandate, that we would review all together the manner in which we consulted with our members during the last round of bargaining; I also wanted to take stock of all the components pertaining to our mobilization campaigns; I likewise wanted to conduct a survey of our members to evaluate the vitality and dynamics of our Local Unions; I was hoping for greater involvement of our members in our local, regional and national union activities; I wanted to organize a meeting where senior CSC management would be present, along with all our Local Union Presidents; I wanted to the set up a group RRSP for our union members, etc. Clearly, I was aiming for an active presidency which would see our union continue to make progress and grow.

These were the principal goals that I had set for myself, and, I can say to you today with pride that along with the National Executive Committee, we have succeeded in achieving most of these key goals that were laid down at the beginning of my mandate.

CONCLUSION

The future for me and for the National Executive Committee is all laid out before us.

Let’s continue the actions that are already under way Let’s continue to make our union work even more effectively Let’s continue to deepen our solidarity Let’s continue to build our unity Let’s continue to demand conditions that improve our profession Let’s continue to work at earning more respect for ourselves as correctional officers Let’s continue to work at winning more respect for our union Let’s continue to develop our collective interests Let’s continue to fight egotism Let’s continue to make information circulate more freely and more widely Let’s continue our political action And finally, here’s to success in our negotiations for the renewal of our collective agreement.



In french