November 2015 President's Report

I am pleased to submit the following report on my Labour Council work, and on some key issues I wish to bring to your attention:

  • The Labour Council and the Federal Election
  • Regional Council rejects KPMG Recommendations
  • Living Wage Waterloo Region
  • Health & Safety Dinner next Wednesday
  • By-Law Changes & Per Capita Dues
  • OSSTF Support Workers still without a contract
  • Workforce Planning Board

The Labour Council and the Federal Election

The Labour Council should be proud of the work it did in the recent federal election campaign. We made a courageous decision to endorse the NDP and backed that up with resources to book off two of our members – UFCW 175’s Kelly Dick and Unifor 4304’s Darlene Wilson – for a total of seven weeks to contact union members and work with union leaders to distribute information to thousands of members. Though we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, we were part of the movement that swept Stephen Harper out of power and ousted all but one Tory MP in Waterloo Region. Now the work begins of holding Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal government to the promises it made. Of particular interest to labour will be these ones:

  • Enhancing Canada Pension Plan, restoring Old Age Security and GIS to age 65;
  • Expanding training and apprenticeship opportunities;
  • Increasing infrastructure funding, including new, dedicated funding for public transit;
  • Investing $3 billion over the next four years to improve home care, mental health services and access to prescription drugs;
  • Repealing the Conservatives’ flawed anti-labour bills C-377 and C-525; and
  • Launching a national public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.

 Regional Council rejects KPMG Recommendations

In a huge victory for good jobs and quality public services on October 21st, Regional Councillors rejected KPMG recommendations to lay off as many as 75 unionized workers and attempt to provide the same services through lower-paid workers at community agencies or private employers. In a 14-1 decision, Council voted to maintain its five Regional childcare centres. On the recommendation to cancel a contract to provide employment services through Employment Ontario funding, Council again opted to maintain the higher-quality public services, with a vote of 9-6. The Labour Council should be proud of its role in reminding Regional Councillors of the implications of its decisions. Candidates who were endorsed by the 2014 Better Choices campaign and promoted to 26,000 members of unions affiliated to the Labour Council were reminded that we endorsed them for a commitment to good jobs and public services, and that we would be watching their votes.

Living Wage Waterloo Region

As partners in Living Wage Waterloo Region, a voluntary recognition program for employers who pay at least $16/hour to employees, the Labour Council was recognized for its role in helping double the number of living wage employers in one year, from ten to twenty. The new employers were recognized at an event on November 5th at the Cambridge Conference Centre. Several local media covered the event, and the living wage movement continues to grow!

Health & Safety Dinner next Wednesday

Our annual Health & Safety Dinner is next Wednesday, November 18th at the Puslinch Community Centre (note the new location!). We received four excellent nominations for this year’s Health & Safety Award, and the winner will be announced at the event. Our guest speaker this year will be Sylvia Boyce, who is a Health & Safety Representative with the United Steelworkers and has been very involved in that union’s Stop the Killing Campaign. She is going to speak about the campaign’s efforts to educate police forces about the need to make employers responsible for negligence in workplace fatalities. We have sold over 100 tickets already: if you haven’t got yours yet, be sure to purchase them today!

By-Law Changes & Per Capita Dues

Over the past year, a small group of delegates on our By-Laws and Resolutions Committee has spent a great number of hours reviewing our By-Laws and the new model by-laws from the CLC. Tonight they will outline the proposed changes with delegates and begin a two-month period of soliciting feedback on the proposals. Please share the draft changes with your Local leadership and submit all comments or proposed changes to info@wrlc.ca by Wednesday, January 13, 2016. The draft By-Laws and details about the consultation process are on our website at http://www.wrlc.ca/draft_changes_to_our_by_laws. Thank you to committee members Dave Eales, Nancy Hutcheson, and Nathan Core for their hard work on this project.

 

One area of our By-Laws that the Committee highlighted as needing change was our per capita dues. Our dues have been at the same level - $.25/member/month – for at least twenty years. Many other Labour Councils have much higher dues. I think we need to raise our dues, but the Executive and I agreed to separate this discussion from the By-Law changes being proposed. I would like to form a committee of delegates from Locals representative of the Labour Council’s membership to review the options available to the Labour Council and recommend a plan to bring the Labour Council’s dues up to our present-day needs. The Committee will start meeting in January. Please share this information with your Local’s leadership, and consider naming someone to this committee for this important discussion.

OSSTF Support Workers still without a contract

Last Friday, I joined members of several different unions at a demonstration in front of Education Minister Liz Sandals’ office in Guelph to demand that she not dock the pay of OSSTF support workers for their job action and get back to the bargaining table. Now that ETFO and CUPE have reached settlements with the government, support staff represented by OSSTF are the last remaining union in the education sector without an agreement with the government. Let’s continue to show our support for the workers who continue to serve our students while in their second year without a contract!

Workforce Planning Board

The Labour Council has an opportunity to recommend up to two people to sit on the Board of Directors of the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo, Wellington, and Dufferin. They are looking for workers with experience in the service sector as well as workers from the theatre/stage sector. The commitment is one meeting per month, plus reporting in to the Labour Council. If you are interested in being recommended by the Labour Council, please send a resume and short letter expressing why you would be a good candidate to me at marc@wrlc.ca by November 30, 2015.

Respectfully submitted,

Marc Xuereb
November 10, 2015


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