MoveUP September Council Meeting

September 10, 2012

The MoveUP Council takes a break from meeting during July and August to allow Councillors the time to vacation with their families. As a consequence, the September council is always a full one as the Executive Board and Council pick up where they left off, catch up and get focussed on the coming year. This year was no exception.

Communications Director Sage Aaron gave the first presentation of the meeting and introduced the council to parts of the newly revamped Membership Orientation Package, and described the plan to create a series of online videos with Point Blank Creative, which will explain how MoveUP works, what the union’s responsibility is to its members, and the members’ responsibility to the union.

Vice President Gwenne Farrell reported out on the global union activity. In June this year, the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM) and International Textiles Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF) formally merged to become IndustriALL. Because of this merger, the last congress of the ICEM moved into the first congress of IndustriALL. Farrell acclaimed to executive spot as part of the new global union’s efforts to have at minimum 35% women on the executive. Members of IndustriALL, including Farrell and President David Black, went to Alma, Quebec to support the steelworkers local there who were locked out by Rio Tinto. In a good news story, the parties signed a contract in July. IndustriALL’s current big campaign is against precarious work, which is not most may think – precarious work is work without security, agency, outsourced, and casual work.

Continuing with Global Union Federations (GUFs) Vice President Heather Lee reported out on the activities of UNI Global Union. UNI is working hard to move organized labour from being reactive in situations, and moving a strategic and forward thinking position from a global perspective by analyzing global economic trends to find opportunities for labour. UNIs job loss survey on banking sector is tied to our organizing interests. 

Vice President Jeff Gillies reported out on national COPE – SEPB business. The national executive discussed feedback from Midterm Conference, and is making changes to improve next Midterm Conference. There was discussion about making the executive seat reserved for women an equity seat, but in the end no change was made because the union’s membership is more female than male but women are not equally represented within the leadership ranks. The next national convention will be held in June 2013 in Winnipeg.

Guest speaker BC Federation of Labour Communications Director Michael Gardiner presented the latest set of polling numbers on public sector bargaining. "When we talk about things the right way, we are in line with public opinion," explained Gardiner.

Executive Board Member Melanie Greenlaw and Executive Councillor Caitlin Gilroy reported back on their experience attending the Summer Institute for Union Women, held at the Sonoma State University in California. This year’s Institute was themed “Campaigning for a New Generation” and both Greenlaw and Gilroy were proud to attend as young female activists. They met many women from several different unions and several different states and provinces. Greenlaw took the Strategic Campaigns Class and work-shopped MoveUP’s Stop Smart Meters campaign. She also took other short classes on political campaigning and market research. Gilroy took Worker Rights and Advocacy Skills which was taught by local labour lawyers. They spent their first day examining harassment and discrimination laws. As the class attendants were all from different regions they discussed the difference in local jurisdictional laws. Both Greenlaw and Gilroy enjoyed the panel, entitled “Challenges in Politics and Activism for Women.” Gilroy pointed out many women faced different problems but there were patters to these challenges which kept repeating.

The Council also elected two delegates from each of the Vice President groups to go to this year’s BC Federation of Labour convention. Rysa Kronebusch and Andrea Foster were elected from the Utilities group, Korleen Carreras and Jocelyn Jenkins were elected from the Combined Units, and John Hooker and Jeff Bryant were elected from the ICBC group.

Executive Councillor, and Audit Committee member John Hooker reported out for the Audit Committee. The committee met yesterday and brought the new members up to speed on the process and history. The Committee decided they would put out a request for proposal for auditors to ensure the union is still getting the best value from the current auditors, PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Vice President Farrell spoke in glowing terms about the Union Rep Training Program when it came time for the Education Committee report. Of the four people trained, she explained, three people are working in the union office and the other is working on the ICBC Job Action Committee. The union is keen to continue the program next year. Farrell reminded the Councillors that applications for the CLC Winter School at Harrison is coming up and there are twelve spots open to MoveUP, four under each Vice President Group.

Melanie Greenlaw reported out for the Social Committee. The Breakfast with Santa program is so popular that the union has had to expand to three sessions. The challenge for the organizers is to cut down on the number of no-shows.

Long sought after changes to WCB now recognize stress related illness from workplace. These changes formed the basis of Vice President Farrell’s Health and Safety Committee report. Previously only Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by an unusual event outside normal scope of work could be covered by WCB. That has now changed to include harassment and bullying in the workplace. The change also requires workplaces to have bullying and harassment policies. There are concerns that this is for optics only and that a complainant would have to get confirmation by a psychiatrist which would then reviewed by WCB. The change is brand new and there have been no tests yet,

Executive Board Member Joyce Glauska combined the Human rights and Multicultural reports – after she updated Council on the most recent developments with the Musqueam grave site, Enbridge, and Human trafficking legislation, she talked about the her experience on the weekend-long Canadians for Reconciliation Society bus tour. The tour just took place this past weekend so the experience was very fresh in Galuska’s mind. The tour took the participants to various historical sites of importance to local First Nations, and of significance to the Chinese labourers who built the railroad out to BC. Most of the participants were Chinese or Chinese-Canadian and this experience was tailored to give them an understanding of the forces that buffeted Canada’s First Nations people through to today’s reverberations. But almost even more so the goal was to showcase the vibrant and diverse cultures B.C.’s First Nations people are nurturing today.

Melanie Greenlaw talked about the Vancouver Pride Parade as part of the Human Rights report. About 600,000 people came to the parade to celebrate the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community. This year boasted the largest Multi-Union Pride float ever and many COPE members and some retirees were there.

Secretary-Treasurer Lori Mayhew spoke for the Pensions Committee, focusing on the recent Halifax Pensions and Benefits conference she attended with Vice President Gwenne Farrell.

Executive Board member Korleen Carreras spoke for the Political Action Committee. Carreras laid out the elements of strategic plan to needed to prepare the union for political action as the May 2012 provincial election date draws closer. She asked the Council members to fill a survey in order to find out skills, needs, and interests as related to the 2012 election. On the federal scene, Carreras explained that she was carefully watching two bills, one which could impact on women’s right to choose, and a bill which could negatively impact the financial oversight of trade unions.

Executive Board Member Stephen Von Sychowski gave a brief report from the Youth Action Committee, reminding everyone of the pub night planned for September 28.

In final business, MoveUP adopted a new Union First policy, and a motion to hire a new organizer on a full-time permanent basis was approved.