Honouring Our Heroes

Yesterday, hundreds gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to honour police and peace officers across Canada. The Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Annual Memorial Service pays tribute to the men and women of law enforcement who are killed in the line of duty.

It’s also an opportunity to thank to those who work so hard to keep us safe.

Among these inspirational men and women are park wardens, who are responsible for law enforcement in our national parks. They also happen to be members of the Union of National Employees.

This year, nine wardens were chosen to represent their comrades in Ottawa.

“It’s really important to recognize the important work of our law enforcement community,” said National Executive Vice-President Eddie Kennedy. Continue reading “Honouring Our Heroes”

UNE Joins the National Day of Action

Last Saturday, union members across the country got together to have their message heard: we’re all affected by these cuts. Thousands of our members have had their jobs eliminated – with many more job cuts to come.

Doug Marshall, the national president of the Union of National Employees, attended the event in Ottawa, where he shared his thoughts on these massive cuts.

“The government says these are just back office jobs. Well first of all, the back office is very important. The people who have contact with Canadians, that’s where they get their support. We’re not only losing those support workers, but we are losing people who directly affect the lives of Canadians in a very immediate way,” said Marshall.

The UNE, Marshall said, is very concerned about the loss of a number of crucial jobs that could put members of the public at risk, including lifeguards at Tofino Beach in B.C., fire protection officers across the country, water inspectors who keep drinking water safe for First Nations people living on reserves – and those are just a few examples.

Events all across Canada

Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, PSAC members gathered at Memorial Park with PSAC President Robyn Benson. “The crowd was electrified by Robyn Benson’s speech,” said Chris Little-Gagné, the assistant vice-president of the UNE’s Manitoba region. “We had face-painting and juice for the kids – and the grownups wrote messages to Harper on a large banner.”

In an interview with Global Winnipeg, Benson touched on how these cuts are affecting morale in the public service.

“It is really disconcerting to be sitting at your desk day in and day out proudly serving Canadians and not knowing if tomorrow a [layoff] letter will show up on your desk,” said Benson.

A moment of solidarity

In Kitchener, Ontario, PSAC members rallied in Victoria Park. “In Kitchener, we have members from FedDev Ontario, Passport Canada and Parks Canada,” said Mary Anne Walker, assistant vice-president of the UNE’s Ontario region.

One affected member from Parks Canada gave an interview. Kathleen LeFaive told CTV Kitchener that she’s passionate about the work she does at Parks Canada.

“I didn’t work for money,” LeFaive told CTV. “I work in heritage because of the love history and the love of teaching.”

PSAC members in Kitchener were joined by public education teachers, who are standing up to the Ontario provincial government after the legislature passed a controversial anti-strike bill.

We have pictures of the rallies in Ottawa, Kitchener and Winnipeg. Got photos from your event? Send them to communications@une-sen.org.

The Quebec regional seminar: a great success

UNE members from Quebec met in Chicoutimi last weekend to take part in a regional seminar. Among the participants were employees of Parks Canada, Statistical Survey Operations, Passport Canada Measurement Canada, the Translation Bureau and others.

Public service layoffs were a hot topic during the weekend. Participants were able to hear about how the cuts were affecting our members and the services that Canadians receive. Those whose workplaces have not been affected by workforce adjustment are nonetheless experiencing difficulties. “If someone retires, goes on extended sick leave or maternity leave, our employer isn’t filling those positions,” said one employee of Passport Canada.

Our members also took part in employer caucuses to discuss how the union can protect our members affected by workforce adjustment. Nathalie Bouchard, a young worker from Parks Local 10269, thought the discussions at her employer caucus were great for hashing out a plan of action. “We’re all on the same page now,” said Bouchard.

Participants also learned a lot about human rights, pensions and the union structure, among many other topics.

“It was a great seminar,” said Quebec Regional Vice-President Jean Pierre Naud. “I think that the communication between members was exceptional.”

Naud says the seminar was a great opportunity for our members to learn, network and share what’s been going on in their workplace. He was also quite pleased with the large participation by new activists and young workers.

We got a few pictures of the seminar on our Flickr page. Go check them out! For more information about regional seminars – or to find out when your regional seminar will be held – consult the events section of our website.

Thanks, but no thanks

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As you may have read on the PSAC website, PSAC President Robyn Benson has invited us to boycott Public Service Week – and with good reason!

We’ve seen our brothers and sisters in tears after getting surplus letters. We’ve seen entire programs – programs that are important to Canadians – shut down. We’ve had our hard work called “redundant”.

I think we speak for most public service employees when we say: Thanks, but no thanks. We’re in no mood to celebrate!

This National Public Service Week, ditch the employer barbecue and join PSAC in protest of the government’s actions.

As a Local, there are many things you can do to take part in this event. Some events being organized include: solidarity gatherings, meetings, barbecues and letter-writing campaigns.

Be sure to check your regional PSAC website for more information on what’s happening in your region!

In Solidarity,

Doug Marshall
National President

pdf English poster
pdf French poster

Solidarity with Quebec Students

Last night, in Ottawa, tons of UNE and PSAC members came to stand in solidarity with striking Quebec students. The strike movement began more than 100 days ago over rising tuition fees. It has grown dramatically ever since the provincial government attempted to quell the protests by adopting Bill 78. The new law, which imposes strict regulations on demonstrations and levies heavy fines for students, has only galvanized support for the movement.

Protesters gathered at Confederation Park in Ottawa’s downtown, where a number of activists spoke to the importance of the movement. Among the speakers was PSAC President Robyn Benson.

“The Public Service Alliance of Canada stands proudly in solidarity with the student movement in Quebec and speaks out strongly against Bill 78,” said Benson

The rally invaded the streets of Ottawa, winding through the heart of downtown Ottawa, made its way into the famous Byward Market before crossing the bridge into Gatineau, Quebec. A number of apartment and condo dwellers took to their balconies, waving red blankets and banging on pots and pans to show their support.

“A thousand people walking from one side of the river to the other, in solidarity with Quebec students, for me, it’s an inspiring demonstration of the power of our voices and of our joint action,” said Sophie Tremblay-Morissette, a UNE member and communications officer for the PSAC-NCR’s Young Workers Committee.

“Let’s do it every night if we have to!”

We caught tons of amazing pictures last night. Go to our Flickr page to see them.

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!

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!

Day of action

When the clock strikes noon on March 1, take to the streets and stand up for public services.

The Harper government wants to make reckless cuts to public services that Canadians rely on. Its austerity plan will have a devastating impact on families and communities across Canada.

Asking Canadians to choose between a strong economy and strong public services: it’s absurd! Canadians need both. On March 1, join thousands of workers across the country and demand better.

Ask your colleagues to stand with you; the only way we can win is if we stand together.

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