DECEMBER 9, 2009 minutes


Glenn Nowag - UFCW 1518, Ron Bobowski - CUPW 760, Cheryl Stone - UFCW 1518, Lynda Zorn - BC Forum, Karen Abramson - UFCW 1518, Ronn Dunn -CUPE 3523, Pat Bulmer - CEP 2000, Jeff Carsience - UBCJA 1370, Boyd Sommerfeld - HEU, Doris Janssen - CEP, Jim Failes - CEP, Greg McGowan - CUPE 873, Keith Taylor - CUPE 873, Jason Angulo - CUPE 873, Wendy Mah - BCGEU 407, Carole Gordon - BCTF Local 23, Nancy Ingersol - VTA-BCTF

Nikki Inouye - HEU Vernon, Shawna Rand - HEU Vernon, Debra Critchley - BCGEU, Shane Curveon - ATU 1722

Jennifer Carsience, Chris Berry - COPE 15, Nic Wheeler - UBCJA Local 1370, Kristine Byers - UBCJA Local 1370, Wes Kmet - BC Forum, Greg Fjetland - BCGEU 707

The meeting was called to order by President Glenn Nowag at 7:00 p.m.


GUEST SPEAKERS: Jason Angulo, CUPE 873

Ronn Dunn, Vice President, sat in for Shane Curveon as Sergeant at Arms,
18 Present with 14 Delegates and 4 Guests


FINANCIAL REPORT: given by Ron Bobowski, Sec. Treasurer, M/S/C

-- CLC Union per capita Tax remittance form, submitted to the Sec. Treasurer
-- The executive board made a resolution to help Shawna Rand, Vice Pres NOLC Executive Board in her time of grief, a cheque was sent to her on behalf of the NOLC.
-- Christmas wishes from the CLC and the BCFED were read aloud to all delegates in attendance.

CLC Report: Orion Irvine CLC Rep.
Pension Campaign
The Canadian Labour Congress's Pension Campaign continues. Labour councils in BC have been contacting their Members of Parliament regarding the issue of pension protection and reform. Well over half the MPs have been contacted. The results of this work are showing. The issue of pensions has been in the media and politicians are talking about the issue on Parliament Hill. We are asking the labour councils that haven't contacted or don't have an appointment with the MPs, to keep up the pressure and keep in contact with their office.

Bill C-391 (Long gun registry)
A Conservative backbencher put forward Bill C-391. This bill would remove the Long gun registry. Twenty opposition MPs joined with the entire government caucus to send Bill C-391 committee for study before being brought back for a final vote. It was a big setback for public safety. Heading into the final steps of the law-making process with a 27-vote lead gives Bill C-391 a good chance of succeeding. If that happens, registration of rifles and shotguns would stop and the government would delete the nearly 8 million firearms records used today by police and other law enforcement officials. Police use those records to keep themselves and our communities safe. Statistics show a 50% drop in gun-related spousal homicides since record-keeping started. We can still turn things around. If your MP is a Conservative, your voice is especially important. That's because the Conservative Party has a history of strong support for public safety and the police. It doesn't make sense that so many Conservative MPs who represent communities where the police say they need the gun registry, and where public support for keeping track of guns remains strong, voted in favour of Bill C-391. They clearly need to hear more about this from the people they represent. We need to convince a few MPs to change their minds about Bill C-391, and vote NO when it returns to the House of Commons for final approval. You can help us make this happen:
-- Talk to 20 of your friends. Ask them to do the same.
-- Join our Facebook page.
-- Send a letter to the Prime Minister about how gun control is an important part of any plan to reduce violence against women.
Call, fax, e-mail or visit your local MP. Tell them the law is working. Tell them that gun-related spousal homicide is down 50% since the gun registry was started. Tell them to keep our communities safe. Tell them to vote against Bill C-391 (if you really want to get their attention, add that you won't vote for anyone who votes in favour of Bill C-391 at the next election). We know there are more Canadians who support having rifles and shotguns registered for public safety than who want to see this important policing tool dismantled and all of its records destroyed. It's still possible to turn things around and win this one for public safety.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women December 6, 2009
On December 6th, we mourn the 14 women killed in Montreal in 1989. On this day, we remember all women who are murdered or experience violence by partners, family members and strangers throughout this country. On this day, we recommit to take action against all forms of violence against women in our society. This December 6th will mark twenty years since those 14 young women were murdered in Montreal simply because they were women. We recognize that ending this violence will only be possible when all women in Canada live in economic and social equality? We know that fighting violence requires governments to pursue an integrated legal, social and economic agenda.
Women need a series of comprehensive social and economic policies including:
-- maintaining the long gun registry, which has reduced gun-related spousal homicides by 50% since it was started;
-- access to affordable, safe housing;
-- a living minimum wage;
-- effective pay equity laws;
-- a national publicly-funded child care program;
-- equal access to Employment Insurance;
-- access to justice, including the resources to challenge discriminatory government action and legal aid;
-- increased governmental support for women's centres, rape crisis centres and women's shelters;
-- legal protection and support for women who report sexual assault.
Rather than promoting women's equality, the federal government is severely limiting women's capacity to organize, advocate and lobby. They won't support women's equality in the workplace and have limited women's rights to challenge discrimination before the courts.
Canadians cannot accept an erosion of our hard-won and still fragile equality rights. We will not be silenced by the socially conservative government agenda.
We call on the federal government to reverse its policy decisions on childcare, pay equity, the gun registry, the Court Challenges Program and Status of Women Canada. We call on the government to drop its law and order agenda and instead, develop an effective women's equality agenda.

Wal-Mart court ruling a narrow technical victory
The president of the Canadian Labour Congress says that Supreme Court of Canada judgments involving a Wal-Mart store closure in Quebec are based on legal technicalities and that the ruling would likely not apply in the rest of Canada.
Ken Georgetti was commenting on SCC rulings today in two cases related to Wal-Mart's shutting down its store in Jonquiere, Quebec in April 2005. "We have always believed that Wal-Mart closed its store in Jonquiere because its employees had voted to join a union," Georgetti says. "But the Supreme Court of Canada has now ruled that under the Quebec labour code, the onus was on the workers to prove that the company closed the store for that reason. In other provinces and territories the onus would have been on the company to prove that was not the case."
Wal-Mart shut down the store, throwing 190 employees out of work; seven months after the United Food and Commercial Workers had been certified to represent workers there. The company claimed the store was not profitable. Georgetti says, "This decision will not deter unions from taking on Wal-Mart in Quebec and other provinces."

New job numbers confirm that the labour market is still slipping. The job numbers for October 2009 confirm that the labour market continues to deteriorate rapidly and there are no signs of improvement. While there were some indication in recent months that labour market deterioration was slowing, that can be described as the eye of a hurricane before the second part of the storm hits us.
In October, the number of employees in Canada dropped by 71,000. The public sector lost 26,000 employees and the private sector lost 45,000. The unemployment rate rose from 8.4% to 8.6% and the number of unemployed Canadians is now 1,587,400, up by 37,700 since September 2009.
The decline that occurred in the last 12 months was mainly in manufacturing, construction, transport and natural resources. The deterioration of the labour market is now spreading to the service industry, including retail and wholesale trade, down by 31,000, and ̉other services", down by 20,000. Women ages 25 and over (-24,400) and young workers (-19,900) who are traditionally over-represented in service, retail and wholesale, suffered most of the layoffs in October. Since October 2008, about 400,000 Canadians have been laid off, most of them full-time workers (378,000). The unemployment rate has increased by 2.3 percentage points, from 6.3% to 8.6%. The number of unemployed Canadians has grown by 435,900 during the same period, a 37.9% increase over a year. In summary, the deterioration of the labour market has spread to all Canadians in all sectors of the economy. Fewer than half of unemployed workers qualify for Employment Insurance and those who do get benefits are receiving an average of about $50 a day. We have asked the government, again and again, to fix Employment Insurance, but they keep tinkering around the edges.
Statistics Canada reports that in October 2009 there were 1.59 million unemployed Canadian men and women, or 8.6% of the workforce. Since last fall, 400,000 jobs have been lost.
Workers have paid their Employment Insurance premiums in good faith, and the program should be there for them now that they have been thrown out of work, through no fault of their own. The EI system needs comprehensive reform, and we are calling upon Ottawa to:
-- change accessibility rules to provide regular EI benefits on the basis of 360 hours of work, no matter where people live and work in Canada.
-- make all workers eligible for up to 50 weeks of EI benefits.
-- raise benefits immediately to 60% of earnings calculated on a worker's best 12 weeks of earnings.

At CHBC Television, we continue to struggle along short-staffed with less than 2/3 of the employees we had a year ago. The last of our most recent layoffs takes effect tomorrow. Nine members are still waiting to learn the fate of their contractual severance -- totalling about $335,000 -- (which is "caught" in our parent company, Canwest Global's Creditor Protection process) I don't know if any of the nine has found more than part-time work, which means it's all the more important that I thank the NOL Council, again, for your generous support, as well as that of the individuals who contributed from their own pockets. These donations were cheered at a recent send-off social organized by our Unit, and gratefully received by our laid off members. A most sincere "Thank you"!
We continue to petition for what's owed to these members, and are pursuing other avenues for aid. In this regard, we heard recently from MP Ron Cannan, following up on a meeting that we had with him in October. He brought good news, direct from the relevant ministry, that money from the Wage Earner's Protection Program would be available to our members. Unfortunately, this happy turn led within hours to a dead end, then a re-check, followed by an apology from a ministry official who admitted to being just plain wrong. This defect in the WEP Program is merely one way in which Canada's laws fail workers whose parent Companies are insolvent. We've just seen more of that in the Ontario Court of Appeal's ruling against Nortel's ex-employees. We must all urge change. We've had still more ups and downs. Our new composite Local has extended an EI Top Up program that will add about $100 a week to EI benefits paid to our un-severanced members. At the other end of the spectrum, our GM has seen fit to deem these laid off employees NOT BE INVITED to CHBC's Christmas Party, citing a need to move forward and keep things positive. This week at CHBC, we're doing a self-survey of job tasks, keeping a running account of what tasks we do. We hope this will give us a better handle on creeping evolution in jobs. New tasks are added regularly, and (although we don't have job descriptions) we're pretty sure it's time to complain. An example? -- CHBC launched a new web site a couple of weeks ago, and now Newsroom staff is being asked to prepare print versions of news stories for the web -- on top of all their regular duties. Amazingly, this is not as easy as our managers originally portrayed it. We're encouraging them to hire someone -- say, one of the unemployed laid off folks, who have re-engagement rights. Stay tuned. Speaking of staying tuned, the campaign for Local TV continues. Our Unit Secretary, Barbara Vanstone, is in Ottawa this week helping CEP prepare a television commercial advocating a fee for carriage of Local TV signals on cable. Watch for it; we hope it'll be better than those currently being aired by the Broadcasters and the Cable companies.
Respectfully submitted,
Jim Failes, President, CEP M1 Okanagan

Pat Bulmer, CEP 2000
The union has won arbitration on over staffing in the pressroom. In our last negotiations, staffing was increased to 5 people per shift, but the company could reduce it to 4 if it could show there was a reduced amount of work. The company tried to implement this. The union grieved. At arbitration, the company cited a reduction of business, but couldn't prove the workload had been decreased. It lacked numbers to back up its case. The union proved that while the number of pages printed may be down, with increased use of colour and units on the press, the actual workload was not "significantly" reduced, (as the contract language requires.)

Carole Gordon, BCTF Local 23 (COTA)
FSA campaign this year focuses on parent withdrawal from the FSA. The tests run January 18 to the end of February, an extension of 2 weeks due to the Olympics. BCTF's position is that a test that measures the system needs to be administered on a random-sample only. After our effort to boycott the tests last year, it is left to the parents of students in grades 4 & 7. Our resolution at the BCFED Convention asking for support of the parental withdrawal, among other things, was passed. There is an estimated six million dollar shortfall for School District 23.

Lynda Zorn, BCFORUM
As BC FORUM's North Okanagan delegate, I just attended a conference in Vancouver December 7 and 8, 2009. David Rice, CLC, was the guest speaker Dec. 7, talking about the CLC's 3 point plan regarding pension reform and encouraging local labour councils to meet with their MPs to lobby for its adoption. I was happy to report that NOLC had already planned on doing so. He also revealed the plan to amalgamate NOLC and SOBLC. The next day it was David Porteous, outlining the WE group of services. You will find pamphlets and other information on the back table. Along with BCFL, WE has been very supportive of BC FORUM in terms of money, staff and office space, as well as helping fund the conference. During some lively discussions, I was surprised by the expertise and wealth of experience fellow delegates brought to the table.
The CLC has recommended labour councils change their bylaws to accommodate regional delegates with a voice but no vote or office, and I appreciate NOLC doing just that. Most delegates were happy with those limitations, but a couple reported their labour councils were too small for them to function without delegates holding office, and one said his had gone even further by passing a resolution removing all restrictions. Since one of the main aims of BC FORUM is to ensure the continuing liaison of retirees and the labour movement, stressing the allowable age of 50 for membership to employees still in the labour force would foster that objective. We were also reminded that some unions will pay first year BCFORUM membership and some delegates felt we should offer it carte blanche to everyone.
In response to Sister Cheryl Stone's question of a receipt acknowledging paid membership, I suggested BC FORUM could furnish delegates with cards that would allow them to fill in the applicant's name and the date upon receiving the $15 fee, and then forward the funds and info to BC FORUM office in timely batches, hopefully saving the latter some time. The suggestion seemed to solicit a favourable response from delegates because of its immediacy. Existing members have different due dates for membership renewal because of the free $2500 group accident insurance coverage. If you are unsure of yours, I have the list to consult.
There are information pamphlets, with application forms, on the back table. You can also apply on line, and view the current edition of the Advocate, press releases etc.

-- Labour Council flyers - The printing of the new NOLC flyers was discussed at the Executive meeting and second at the General meeting to go ahead and have 2,000 flyers printed by Print Craft, which is a union shop in Vancouver. Everyone was in favour of the importance of this form of advertisement to get the word out about who we are and what we do in our community.
-- BC Fed - CLC Harrison Winter School - It was recommended by the NOLC Executive that Ron Bobowski, Secretary Treasurer, Table Officer attend. A motion was passed at the Executive Meeting and second at the General meeting that Sister Cheryl Stone, Recording Secretary and Table Officer, attend as well.
-- North Okanagan Labour Council AGM - February 2010 There was no response from the attending delegates to offer to head up a committee for the upcoming 2010 AGM election of Executive Officers. This will be revisited at the January 6, 2010 meeting.
Please think about volunteering for this very important position, there is not a lot of work involved. It is very crucial that this take place in order to move forward with elections for our labour council. Call or email Ron Bobowski for more information.

CLC Rep Orion Irvine asked that the NOLC Executive pass a motion regarding merger of councils. The motion "that the executive officers be authorized to discuss, with the CLC and the Okanagan Labour Councils, ways in which the Okanagan area Labour Councils can work more closely together, up to and including a merger" was passed. A discussion was held at the General meeting and the motion was second by the delegates in attendance. This would just be the first level of discussion. The CLC will have a meeting in January 2010 for further talks regarding this issue, with the NOLC and the SOBLC, South Okanagan Boundary Labour Council.

FINAL CREDENTIALS REPORT: 23 Present with 17 Delegates 6 Guests

-- The funeral service for Shawna Rand's son, Eric Shawn Rand, was held on November 20, 2009. Eric understood the importance of helping others in need. To keep his spirit alive the Eric Rand Memorial Fund has been set up with the Village Green Branch CIBC, 3201 30th Ave., Vernon, B.C. V1T 2C6. Transit #00260, account number 8924236, please assist if you are able.
-- Carole Gordon, BCTF asked that everyone remember the United Way in their time of need for donations. Please go to www.unitedwaycso.com to help out. Thank you from the United Way.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 pm by Glenn Nowag, President

Minutes respectfully submitted by Cheryl Stone, Recording Secretary, UFCW 1518,

NEXT MEETING: Jan. 6, 7 p.m. at NOLC office, 201-1358 St Paul Street, Kelowna.

Go back to News & Notes