Council Leaps into a New Year and Diversity Training

February 29, 2016

The first council meeting of 2016 also took place on the first February 29 in four years, as 2016 is a Leap Year. The council began with President David Black giving traditional thanks to the Coast Salish people on whose traditional unceded territory the council meeting took place. Black then acknowledged that the hotel workers at the council venue, members of UNITE HERE Local 40, are in the middle of difficult contract negotiations with their employer. President David Black encouraged the councillors to express their support for a fair contract to both the hotel workers and management.

Communications Director Sage Aaron gave a brief report which updated council on the process, and alerted council to the fact that the union’s website was reaching its end of life. The communications department will be gathering information about needs and wants for the website over the next six months.  

Next on the agenda was the president’s report. Black started with a staffing update. Current staffer Kevin Smyth was the successful applicant for the Senior Union Representative position left open by Glen MacInnes’ departure, and former Canadian Labour Congress Pacific Region Director Amber Hockin as MoveUP’s Director of Operations.

Black gave council some bargaining highlights. Bargaining with Accenture Business Services is in process, but it is dragging on and taking longer than the union had hoped. Coast Mountain Bus Company bargaining is on the horizon, and Vice-President Alicia Gallo has begun the work to ready her negotiating committee. TransLink contract negotiations will likely follow Coast Mountain Bus. Coastal Community Credit union is also in process, and is proving to be challenging.

Bargaining preparations have also begun with Enterprise Rent-a-Car. The Musicians Association is in strike position, and the union is hopeful that the parties can reach a resolution. At Southern Railway, MoveUP’s members have signaled that they are not interested the employer’s proposal of a two tier agreement. The union is talking with the CUPE members who also work at that location, knowing that if MoveUP’s members do have to take job action, the CUPE members will likely be walking the picket lines as well.

Black reported out in the 2016 BC Budget lock up, which he attended with Vice President Annette Toth and the union’s communications staffers. With the failed transit referendum still so fresh, MoveUP focused on the lack of transit funding in their critiques.

After delivering his report, President Black took questions from councillors on MoveUP’s organizing efforts, and the training and networking offered by the National Labour Leadership Initiative Black attended in Portland.

Black also offered a brief National Report in his role as National COPE SEPB vice president. Previously, the board had decided there wasn’t enough in the budget to send the full board to the National convention. Black mentioned that this may change if there is room the budget.
Vice President Gwenne Farrell also offered a short Global Union Federation report. Farrell and Black were both approached by Tourism Vancouver about IndustriALL’s 2017 World Energy Conference, which brings together 300 energy workers from across the world. Farrell and Black are working with Tourism Vancouver and IndustriALL to put Vancouver forward as a possible location.

Secretary-Treasurer Lori Mayhew gave the financial report, which led councillors through the statements of revenue and expenses and the balance sheets for November, December and January, as well as the usual review of the Member Defence fund and third quarter earnings statement. Lori also spoke about the contracting in grievance win at BC Hydro, and the positive impact this will have on the union’s bottom line.

Some time ago, council decided to receive committee reports via email in advance of the council meetings. With this change council time is more efficiently used to discuss the contents of the reports, if required. The Audit, Education, Electoral, Events and Social Planning, and Human Rights committee reports were all received by council. The Arbitration Review committee report was approved after a few minor corrections, made by Gwenne Farrell. The majority of time was spent on the Constitutions and By-laws committee changes, following a request from committee chair Tim Weigelt. The changes were made as a result of the changes to MoveUP’s constitution at the November convention, and Weigelt wanted to make sure the council heard and understood the changes.

As part of the efforts to make the council meetings more effective and efficient, the afternoon was set aside for leadership skills development and training for all councillors. The theme of this workshop was Diversity, Inclusiveness, Leadership & Advocacy and it was led by Ana Mohammed, a mediator, human rights lawyer and former BC Human Rights Tribunal member. Mohammed’s presentation was tailored for the labour movement and union activists. After grounding the council in the many historic reasons for racial, gender, class and disability inequity in our society,  she walked councillors through detailed strategies to address these inequities in the union and in the workplaces MoveUP represents. One specific recommendation was for councillors and leaders within the union to reach out to approach and mentor people from under-represented communities.