May Council Report
The May 2015 executive council meeting began with the swearing in of seven new executive councillors from a variety of workplaces including BC Hydro, FortisBC and ICBC.
After swearing in the new councillors, Communications Director Sage Aaron unveiled the last in the union’s series of videos featuring the stories of commuters who are voting Yes in the Metro Vancouver transit referendum. The videos have been produced in collaboration with two other unions with members at TransLink, CUPE BC and ATU. The videos were shared online and Aaron provided statistics on the Facebook ad buy MoveUP spent to boost the post. She also reviewed the results of a phone canvass of the union’s membership on the issue – the 43 percent are in favour or are leaning towards voting yes, while 17 per cent said they are opposed.
Aaron then provided an overview of the status of the union’s rebranding project, and reported on the input the executive council gave on the brand building blocks. Focus groups had just recently concluded on the assumptions underlying the rebrand, a few proposed new names and the brand building blocks. The feedback from the focus groups are being used to further refine the branding process.
MoveUP president David Black then gave his report. He mentioned the four staff job postings that the union currently has open – an organizer to back fill for maternity leave, two union representatives and an admin support staffer. Council also approved a motion to continue to include the union’s HR manager position in the next year’s budget.
He then gave council an update on some of the more challenging agreement negotiations, which includes BCAA, FortisBC Energy and Capilano University. FortisBC Energy members are voting on a tentative agreement while Capilano’s strike vote process has just begun. The union is also meeting Capilano management in mediation this Wednesday. BCAA’s strike vote is being counted today.
Black gave council an update on the union’s contracting-in grievance against BC Hydro. “A great deal of work has gone into this,” explained Black. “We’ve won all of the cases and are working with BC Hydro to fix the issue.” Black said that, in contrast to times past, there has been respectful discussions with the government as well as BC Hydro regarding the problems with the current contracting out practices. While nothing has been promised, the employer is making an effort to at least listen and take the union’s concerns seriously.
Moving to the National Union’s report, Black spoke as the COPE SEPB Vice-President for Region 4. The National Executive Board’s next meting is June of this year and the major topic of discussion will be the convention in June of 2016.
Under the Global Union Federation topic on the council agenda, Vice-President Heather Lee told council that MoveUP has received notice from UNI Global Union that the next meeting would be in October and Black reported out on IndustriALL North America.
Vice-President Gwenne Farrell attended the IndustriALL international executive meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, last week as Vice-Chair of IndustriALL’s women’s committee. She informed council that there had been quite a bit of discussion about women’s representation, or the lack thereof, and quotas. While a quota policy is currently in place for 30 per cent women on the executive, that doesn’t flow through to the leadership or staff. Some of IndustriALLs regional groups have voted to move up to 40 per cent female representation.
The executive members at the Stockholm meeting focused on three main topics: a global living wage campaign; the Rio Tinto campaign timed for Valentines’ & Mothers Day which explained why loved ones wouldn’t want diamond mined by a company with a terrible labour record; and the campaign to stop precarious work. Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven once sat on the IndustriALL executive, and came to speak at the meeting. He talked about unions working collaboratively with government and employers on health and safety measures.
As part of the financial report, Lori Mayhew also gave an accounting of her other duties as MoveUP secretary treasurer since the last council meeting. She attended the Public Service Pension Plan Advisory Committee, and New West District and Labour Council meeting in her role of president of that body. Mayhew took part in the site visits that have, over the last three years, visited every single MoveUP workplace save one. Mayhew also spoke at the lower mainland Day of Mourning event, and has been working on the logistics of the move to the union’s new office building.
Board member Tim Weigelt gave a quick Electoral Committee report, in advance of the afternoon’s planned break out groups. Council split into the three groups – utilities, combined and ICBC – to meet at lunch and review their areas. Following lunch the groups came back with recommendation for changes or rationales for the status quo. There were a few amendments to electoral report. The BC NDP group was removed from the “labour” group and placed in “miscellaneous” group.
Lori Mayhew also offered the political action report. She mentioned the Alberta election, of particular interest to MoveUP members as Premier Rachel Notley’s husband was once a research officer at MoveUP. The average age of Notley’s cabinet is 40 and 43 per cent of the NDP caucus are women. David Black attended the swearing in ceremony yesterday and provided insight to council about how the Alberta NDP managed to engage voters.
Rysa Kronebusch and Susan Orr presented the women’s committee report. The committee held a strategic planning session on May 21. The donation drive the WRC conducted at BC Hydro for the Wish Drop-In Centre in Vancouver was a big success. MoveUP’s BC Hydro members were extraordinarily generous and provided a literal truckload of donations. “It was a really moving experience and had a huge impact,” said Kronenbusch. The committee had received four applications to the Summer Institute for Union Women and were sending two members, Tania Busch and Gagan Gill.
Cenen Bagon, a retired MoveUP member who worked at Accenture, took the floor to thank council members for their ongoing support of new Canadian workers struggling to gain permanent residency. Bagon volunteers with the Vancouver Committee for Domestic Workers and Caregivers’ Rights. This organization recently helped found the Caregivers Assistance Resource and Education centre (CARE Centre) to help domestic workers who find themselves in exploitative situations with their employers. MoveUP recently helped sponsor a film fundraiser, which raised over $15,000 in total, which doesn’t yet include the matching funds promised by Scotia Bank. “I appreciate that when people at COPE make decisions, actions flow,” said Bagon. “It’s not just lip service.”
After lunch, David Black introduced Marlene Lunn and Jane Lindstrom from the Red Shirt Foundation. They founded the organization in memory of Lunn’s husband, who was shot while working at a sawmill in Nanaimo a year ago. Speaking about the shooting incident, Lindstrom said, “It’s an over the top event, not the kind of thing most people contemplate,” but that it had catalyzed a conversation about violence in blue-collar industries like manufacturing. Together with Western Forest Products, the United Steelworkers and the Workers Compensation Board, the Red Shirt Foundation has raised $60,000 to research workplace violence in the manufacturing sector. “White collar (workplace) findings aren’t transferable,” explained Linstrom. In the context of a loud shop floor, she asked, “What difference does it make when people can’t hear each other?”
During the final pieces of business, the executive board passed a policy supporting the development of Site C under certain conditions, and increased the aid money that the executive board voted to donate to Nepal earthquake relief from $1,000 to $5,000.