A loss of our heritage

UNE members, archivists and concerned citizens gathered at the Library and Archives Canada main building yesterday to mourn the loss of our documentary heritage.

“On behalf of over 68,000 academic staff from universities and colleges across Canada, we proudly join all of the archivists and allies who are gathering here in Ottawa today to mourn the loss of the National Archival Development Program,” said Angela Regnier, communications officer for the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

The National Archival Development Program is a grant program that helped support provincial, territorial and municipal archives. The program is being eliminated. According to the Canadian Historical Association, the program’s small annual budget of $ 1.7 million supported over 800 local archives during the past 26 years.

Regnier says the National Archival Program is just the latest victim of this government’s attacks on access to research, knowledge and cultural heritage.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers also condemned changes to Library and Archives Canada’s mandate and the loss of many knowledgeable employees. Last month, 235 of the 544 UNE members who work at Library and Archives in Ottawa received notices. The department says 105 positions will be eliminated.

What you can do:

  • Write a letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages James Moore and to Librarian and Archivist of Canada Dr. Daniel Caron. For key points to write about, click here.
  • Go to the Save Library and Archives Canada website and sign up for updates.

There are photos of the rally on our Flickr page!

In memoriam – Laurel Gladu

The following was written by Kevin King, Regional Vice-President for the Alberta, NWT and Nunavut region and a friend of Laurel Gladu.

I wish to write on the sudden and unexpected passing of Sister Laurel Gladu, Assistant Regional Vice President of the Union of National Employees’ Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut region.

Laurel passed away on May 15th, 2012. She had just completed steering committee work for the upcoming UNE Health and Safety Conference in Montreal in October.

Laurel has been an activist within PSAC at her workplace of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada since the early 1980s. Her union involvement started as a steward in Inuvik (Local X0305), then in Yellowknife (Local X0304). In the late 1980s, Laurel moved to Edmonton where she became a continuous member of her Local Executive (Local 30067) until this early Spring.

Laurel was a well intended activist who worked hard – often with direct representation as a skilled chief shop steward. She worked tirelessly, with a wonderful dose of common sense, towards the steadfast advancement of women’s issues, the promotion of Aboriginal Peoples’ rights, and the raising of awareness of occupational health and safety matters.

Laurel was my confidante on the regional team of UNE. This region is an extremely difficult region to administer, but Laurel took on the labour issues, offering dignity and respect to members who worked in difficult workplaces, and, at times, with less than cooperative managers.

Her friends were many in the labour movement; her passing leaves a void among all activists within the Prairies and the PSAC Prairie Region of PSAC.

Regionally, Laurel was a Human Rights Representative for Equal Opportunities from 1990 to 1993. She was also Assistant Regional Vice-President at the UNE during from 2008 until just recently. Laurel also represented members at all but one triennial convention of the UNE since 1990.

Most importantly, Laurel was my friend.

She cherished the love of her family, her children and grandchildren, golfing and the memories of her favourite vacation destinations: Las Vegas and Myrtle Beach.

I am so deeply saddened by her passing, and cannot imagine the grief of her loved ones and friends.

Laurel’s family has shared the following information regarding her funeral service:

May 23, 2012
2 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Time)
Evergreen Memorial Gardens
Edmonton, Alberta

There will be a service to pay your respects to Laurel’s family at 1:30 p.m.

Sincerely and in solidarity,

Kevin King
Regional Vice-President
Union of National Employees, PSAC

May is Asian Heritage Month

May is Asian Heritage Month. Let’s encourage everyone to learn more about this month and celebrate the contributions Asian-Canadians have made – and continue to make – to Canada!

As B.C. Minister of State for Multiculturalism John Yap recently wrote, the definition of Asian is fairly broad and inclusive. “Asian Heritage Month celebrates a long list of people who come from, or whose ancestors came from; East Asia – China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan; South Asia – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka; Central Asia – Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan; and Southeast Asia – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam,” wrote Yap.

As a person who came from Brunei Darussalam, in Southeast Asia, and who is of Chinese ancestry, Asian Heritage Month is especially meaningful to me. I had a lot to learn when I first arrived in Canada; its vast geography, its people, its government, its education system and, of course, human rights.

On the other hand, my immigration to Canada has given others a chance to learn about the unique aspects of Southeast Asian and Chinese culture. Today, as Canadians, we appreciate our country’s rich Asian-Canadian diversity and its many different ethnicities, languages and traditions.

Finally, as an Asian British Columbian, I am pleased to share with you that on Monday, May 7, 2012 – after 70 years – the Province of British Columbia formally apologized to the Japanese-Canadian community for the internment of thousands of people during the Second World War. For more details, please refer to this article by the CBC.

Enjoy reading and have a great week.

International Day Against Homophobia – May 17

I expect that we’ve all heard the story about the small town gay boy or lesbian who moves to the city in order to escape the constraints of small-minded bigotry. That was my life and homophobia was just a regular part of it – like eating, sleeping and walking the dog. Imagine living with a persistent fear of being discovered that lingered under the surface of every activity. No one knew my secret – except every boy in my high school who managed to sniff out my fear like hungry dogs.

In grade 10, the son of a rich business owner in my town held me in a headlock while he demanded that I tell him that I loved him. Several of his friends watched me confess my love. I’m not sure if the love was mutual. One of my friends was also there to witness the spectacle. Saying those words was humiliating because it exposed me for what I really was – a boy who loved other boys. There was also another guy in high school that called me “Klinger”; a reference to a character from the TV Show Mash who dressed in women’s clothes in order to get a psychiatric discharge.  He was a friend. I’ve never told him how much that name hurt me.  We’re no longer friends and I’ve never told him why.

After graduating from high school in 1985, I moved to Vancouver and never looked back. I was free to reinvent myself, but without the extravagant hand gestures and exuberant joy that made me who I was in high school. I lost a piece of myself because of homophobia.

I know that my story may seem a little dated, given that many kids are coming out in high school now. But this fear of gay and lesbian people persists in religion and within our governments and institutions. Many of our workplaces are safe, but some are not. I think there are still many people out there like my friend – the one whose nickname made me feel so unsafe and exposed. He didn’t know how to act or what to do when confronted with someone different.

We all need to make ourselves aware of what homophobia is and how it can be fought.  It can be brutal and it can also be subtle…  either way, it hurts.

– Rodney Hynes

Rodney Hynes is the National Equity Representative for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People.

Homophobia comes in many forms. To find out more about the various ways it can manifest, follow this link to Fondation Émergence’s website.

Are you an Ally? The Canadian Labour Congress has a guide for allies that answers many questions about LGBT issues.

A sincere word of thanks

The past few weeks haven’t been the easiest, to say the least. Though, even with the added stress of dealing with layoffs – some of us personally, some of us through friends, families and coworkers – countless UNE members volunteered to tell their story to Canadians.

I would like to personally thank each and every one of you who took a moment to put a face to these mass layoffs and spoke about the impact on public services.

In solidarity,

Doug Marshall
National President
Union of National Employees Continue reading “A sincere word of thanks”

Helpful WFA Tools

The Union of National Employees recently created two factsheets on WFA: one for employees who fall under Treasury Board and one for Parks Canada employees. These factsheets are found in the WFA resources for Locals section of our website. This section also houses many links to WFA documents created by the PSAC.

Many locals have already been using our factsheets to assist their members. Anna Roosen-Runge, of Local 00137, said the factsheets came in very handy last week when a large number of members received affected and surplus letters. “I’m finding this new version to be quite helpful for our Local,” said Sister Roosen-Runge.

At the Union of National Employees, we remain committed to helping our members – and the local leaders who assist them – in any way we can. If you are a member in need of assistance, please contact of a member of your Local. Local Executive members who require assistance should contact a member of their regional team.

pdf WFA Factsheet for Parks Employees
pdf WFA Factsheet for Treasury Board Employees


Solidarity Against Austerity

Today, members of the Union of National Employees took part in a rally against austerity in Ottawa. The rally drew more than 1500 of activists; many of whom were UNE members from all over Canada who were in Ottawa attending the PSAC National Triennial Convention.

“We are here to give a clear message,” said Larry Rousseau, PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President of the National Capital Region, “when you mess with public services – when you destroy public services – you destroy Canada.

One thing is for sure: our members were very energized by the rally. “I thought it was great,” said Mike LeBlanc, the Assistant Regional Vice-President for the Atlantic (N.B.). “We need more and more of these and all over the country.”

Many other social justice activist groups attended. Among the organizations, there were activists from ACORN Canada, a group that seeks to empower low and moderate income families. Also spotted among the crowd were Bridget Tolley and Kristen Gilchrist who are volunteers for Families of Sisters and Spirit; an organization that seeks justice for murdered and missing native women in Canada.

We have TONS of pictures of the rally. Go check them out on our Flickr page!

Truly a sad day

Doug Marshall rose on a point of privilege this morning during the proceedings at PSAC Convention. He asked for a moment of silence for our brothers and sisters who were informed today that they may lose their jobs.

“This is truly a sad day for our members and for our union,” said Marshall. “At the Union of National Employees alone, almost 3000 members across half a dozen departments received notices that their jobs are affected or eliminated.”

The UNE National President says that while the numbers are appalling, they don’t tell the whole story. “What we’re really talking about here is people; our friends, our colleagues and our family members. People we know are losing their jobs.”

He also urged members to be there for each other during this difficult time.

“If there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that we have amazing people in our union – people who are always ready and willing to help others,” said Marshall. It’s comforting to know that they’ll be there to support those devastated by today’s cuts.”

The UNE recently created Factsheets that provide a clear explanation of the Work Force Adjustment Process for Employees of Parks Canada and Treasury Board. We hope these will assist members who are facing layoff and the union representatives who will support them.

WFA Factsheet for Parks Employees
WFA Factsheet for Treasury Board Employees

National Day of Mourning – Apr 28

Vincent Massey Park will again be the site of Canada’s National Day of Mourning ceremony for workers killed or injured on the job. Although the Canadian Labour Congress has officially observed the day since 1984, April 28 was first proclaimed a Day of Mourning by an Act of Parliament in 1991. Today, in over one hundred countries around the world, April 28 is officially observed.

According to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, there were a total of 1017 reported workplace fatalities across the country.

“The figures don’t even begin to tell the true number of lives lost as a direct result of the workplace,” said Sean McKenny, president of the Ottawa and District Labour Council. Because these figures come from various provincial workers’ compensation boards, McKenny says they don’t include 38% of workers who aren’t covered by workers’ compensation systems.

“So unquestionably the actual numbers are much higher.”

“We’ve seen a significant number of workplace injuries and fatalities in the city of Ottawa over the last year,” said McKenny. “It needs to stop”.

The ceremony at Vincent Massey Park starts at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday April 28.  Mayor Jim Watson will be in attendance to officially proclaim the day.  Speakers include: Hassan Yussuff (Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress), Robert Blakely (the Canada’s Building Trades Union), MP Paul Dewar (NDP-Ottawa Centre) and Sean McKenny (President of the Ottawa and District Labour Council). This will be followed by the laying of wreaths and roses.

Members of the Union of National Employees will also be there. We’ll post pictures on our Flickr page very shortly.

Early morning caucuses at PSAC Convention

The PSAC Convention is fast approaching and we hope you’re as excited as we are! We’d like to quickly inform you that the Union of National Employees will hold caucuses during the PSAC Convention.

Caucus meetings are extremely helpful; it’s our time to discuss resolutions, meet candidates and talk about other issues among fellow UNE members (it’s also a good place to get that first jolt of morning java!).

All caucus meetings will take place at the Ottawa Convention Centre at 55 Colonel By Drive. We have arranged for simultaneous translation during all our meetings.

Your attendance at these meetings is mandatory, unless you must attend another caucus (such as equity caucuses). If you are unable to attend, please inform your Regional Vice-President.

We know that getting up in the morning isn’t always easy… that’s why we’re luring you with a full breakfast and beverages of the caffeinated variety! The Union of National Employees will provide a full breakfast for all caucus members, including Area Council members, equity delegates and observers. Breakfast will be served starting at 6:45 a.m.; the caucus starts promptly at 7:30 a.m. (please remember not to claim per diem for those meals).

Here is the caucus schedule:

Date Time Room Notes
April 29 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Room 213/215 Coffee, tea and juice
April 30 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Room 213/215 Full breakfast at 6:45 a.m.
May 1 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Room 213/215 Full breakfast at 6:45 a.m.
May 2 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Room 213/215 Full breakfast at 6:45 a.m.
May 3 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Room 213/215 Full breakfast at 6:45 a.m.
May 4 7:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Room 213/215 Full breakfast at 6:45 a.m.

We look forward to seeing all of you in the National Capital Region for a great convention!