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MARCH 4, 2009 minutes

MINUTES - MONTHLY MEETING, NORTH OKANAGAN LABOUR COUNCIL AT KELOWNA

AFFILIATES PRESENT
Glenn Nowag, Pres., UFCW 120
Pat Bulmer, CEP 2000
Ron Bobowski, Sec/Treasurer, CUPW 760
Bill Zeman, CUPE 3523
Cheryl Stone, Rec. Sec., UFCW 1518
Nikki Inouye, HEU-Vernon
Ronn Dunn, VP, CUPE 3523
Carol Kenzie, HEU
Carole Gordon, COTA
Linda Thiel, HEU
Shawna Rand, Northern Delegate, HEU-Vernon
Jim Failes, CEP 823M
Shane Curveon, Sergeant at Arms, ATU 1722
Boyd Sommerfeld, HEU
Maria Tokarchuk, HSA
Dave Porteous, Trustee, UFCW 120

GUESTS
Karen Abramsen, BC Forum
Tisha Kalmanovitch, Guest, NDP Candidate, Kelowna Mission
Faye Saxon, BC Forum
Tish Lakes, Guest, NDP Candidate, Westside Kelowna
Wes Kmet, BC Forum
Blake Wright, Guest, NDP Candidate KLC for nomination
Mark Olsen, Guest NDP Candidate, Vernon Monashee
Mathew Reed, Guest, NDP Candidate KLC for nomination
Darren Tompkins, Guest CUPE 5523
Eileen Robinson, Guest, NDP


REGRETS
President, Glenn Nowag called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

CALL TO ORDER
President Glenn Nowag called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA
M/S/C to adopt agenda of March 4, 2009

GUEST SPEAKERS
Mark Olsen, NDP Candidate, Vernon Monashee, B.C., gave a short bio.
President, Tish Lakes, of NDP Kelowna Mission Constituency, and also NDP Candidate of Westside Kelowna Constituency, spoke on the critical issues that this Province faces today and encourages everyone to vote NDP. The three Kelowna NDP constituencies, Kelowna Lake Country, Kelowna Mission, and Westside Kelowna are working together one to request financial endorsement from the NOLC.
NDP candidate, Kelowna Mission, Tisha Kalmanovitch, spoke about her experiences in the political arena.
NDP, Westside Kelowna Constituency, Eileen Robinson, spoke on the NDP Neighbour to Neighbour strategy, happening March 21, 2009. She asked for volunteers to help with this campaign.
Kelowna Lake Country has a contested nomination on Friday, March 20, 2009, at First United Church, 5:30 pm
Kelowna Mission and Westside Kelowna are having a joint nomination meeting on Tue. March 24, 2009 at First United Church, doors open at 6:30 pm. For more information contact Karen Abramsen at 250 769 1977.

ADOPTION OF PREVIOUS MINUTES
February 4, 2009, minutes circulated at meeting, approved by membership. M/S/C

CREDENTIALS REPORT
26 present with 16 Delegates and 10 Guests

OBLIGATION OF NEW DELEGATES
The North Okanagan Labour Council reaffirmed delegates present this night in order to update our contact and Union affiliation information. Delegate registration forms were distributed to all in attendance and turned in to the Recording Secretary.

FINANCIAL REPORT reported by Ron Bobowski, Sec/Treasurer
-- M/S/C to adopt financial report as circulated

EXECUTIVE BOARD REPORT/ACTION CORRESPONDENCE
It was the decision of the executive to be a bronze donator of International Women's Day which awards 2 people from our Labour Council to attend with a $100.00 contribution. Karen Abramsen and Wes Kmet will be in attendance. The NOLC will also donate $30.00 to the B.C. Federation of Labour.
The Executive recommended that the NDP Candidates, in the North Okanagan Labour Council area, wanting financial endorsement, would be given the NOLC Candidate labour based questionnaire. The amount given will be based on the results of the questionnaire and the number of ridings, full or partial, to be determined by the Labour Council Political Action Committee.
Action Correspondence was read for the delegates and guests. Due to the high volume of all other email and mail correspondence, since the last meeting, it was made available to all delegates and guests in attendance if they desired.

REPORTS OF LOCAL UNIONS, COMMITTEE REPORTS, CLC REPORT
CUPE 3523 - Ron Bobowski, gave a report for the United Way. He thanked the NOLC for sending him to the CLC Week 4, Winter School at Harrison Resort.

Cheryl Stone gave a report on the CLC, Winter School and thanked the NOLC for allowing her to attend.

Cheryl Stone reported on the Labour Council Conference Call, Thursday, Feb 19, 2009 "Road to Victory", Count me in campaign. There will be conference calls every two weeks for updates on this strategy. The Road to Victory campaign calls for door to door visits in each constituency hopefully having union members working in their own neighbourhood and reporting back to the Labour Council as to their progress.

CUPE 3523: report -- Bill Zeman reports that a benefit arbitration grievance was won by the union. There are 5 other grievances going to arbitration. Bill spoke on the upcoming election and how CUPE 3523 will be helping on some of the campaigns in the Okanagan Valley. He just returned from a first ever CUPE national K-12 Conference held in Regina, Sask. There are about 100,000 CUPE members that are involved in K-12 education.

CEP 823: Jim Failes, LOCAL 823-M, COMMUNICATIONS, ENERGY AND PAPERWORKERS UNION OF CANADA Hello. I am new to NOLC meetings. My name is Jim Failes and I have recently become President of CEP Local 823-M, which represents the Unionized workers of CHBC Television here in Kelowna. You may be familiar with my predecessor, Kevin Hagglund, and my immediate predecessor, Steve Fast. You may also know that times aren't so good at CHBC these days. The station is for sale, along with the 4 other E!-branded stations that belong to our parent company, Canwest Global. We are also suffering through issues of overwork and lack of cover for absence, due to a round of layoffs announced November 12, 2008. We lost 18 employees at CHBC, 14 of who were Bargaining Unit members. The station's total staff was reduced by nearly a third. At this time we are particularly concerned about upcoming License Renewal hearings. In late April, the CRTC will be considering renewal applications for conventional TV stations across the country, including CHBC. Canwest has just announced that in markets under 1 Million people, they are proposing a commitment of 5 hours of local programming per week. Although our management insists that this is a minimum "benchmark" allowing flexibility to produce more than 5 hours, it is nevertheless the place Canwest is asking the bar to be set, and it is all that would be required of them. We believe this is unacceptably low. CHBC currently is committed to producing 18.5 hours per week. One action CEP is taking to fight for a real commitment to local programming (especially local news, which comprises the vast majority of local programming), is a petition to members of parliament. This petition, using mail-out cards, asks government to require the CRTC to make local programming commitments a condition of license for broadcasters. Please take the time to fill out a card tonight, and take as many as you like to others who will do the same.

UFCW 1518: Cheryl Stone reported that Coopers Stores are in negotiations with management, this week, March 4 to 6, 2009, as their union contract expired February 28, 2009. There are 12 Cooper Stores in B.C. with most of them being located in the interior. A discussion was held regarding automated check stands and Cheryl asked that we boycott them in order to save jobs in those facilities that have them in place.

EI Board of Referees, Faye Saxon, worker representative, reported that the case load has increased immensely since the down turn of the economy. They were scheduling one Board per week and now it is two. One of the big problems is when a worker leaves one job for another and then gets laid off. The Commission has to decide if there was "just cause" for leaving. If they rule against the claimant, the hours from that job will not be included and the worker may not have enough hours to qualify. We are also seeing many problems arising if a woman requires sickness benefits or gets laid off in the lead-up to a maternity claim. It is very complicated the way the law is written. However, this may negate some of the benefit time for maternity/parental leave after the birth. If any of your members find themselves in this position they should make enquiries BEFORE applying for ANY benefits during the nine months preceding expected date of confinement. The weekly benefit rate is calculated on the earnings from the last 26 weeks -- which may well bring the benefit rate down considerably. There is a requirement for a person wanting to take re-training or apprentice training, with benefits or to have the course paid for, the whole of the arrangements must be made with the Commission in advance of the course commencing.

COTA: Carole Gordon spoke about the up coming Regional Social Justice Conference "Making a Difference for Children Living in Poverty: Empathy, Advocacy & Education". See attached for details of this conference.

EI Board of Referees: Karen Abramsen reported that the annual Board of Referees Information Session was held on Feb. 27, 2009. During this session they learned about new developments with EI, National, Regional and Local stats and spent time on case studies. The recent 2009 Federal Budget has some issues affecting EI.
These include: 5 additional weeks to collect, (45 to 50 weeks max)
Extending work sharing agreements by 14 weeks
Extending the Wage Earner Protection Program to cover severance and termination pay owed to eligible workers impacted by employers' bankruptcy.
Freezing EI rates at $1.73 per 100 for both 2009 and 2010
In 2006, the CSN and the Syndicat national des employes de L'Aluminium d'Arvida argued at the Supreme Court that the active employment measures in the EI Act (employment benefits, work sharing, training, etc.) were unconstitutional as they fell under the jurisdiction of the provinces and that the federal government could not use the EI surplus for purposes other than EI benefits. The decision rendered on December 11, 2008, confirmed that the active measures were constitutional and that the federal government could use the EI surplus for other uses. However, the way EI premiums were collected in three different years was illegal and needed to be remedied.
In Budget 2008, the Government of Canada announced it is creating a new, independent Crown corporation, the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board (CEIFB), to enhance the independence of premium rate setting and to ensure that EI premiums are used exclusively for the EI program. The Boards' mandate is restricted to overseeing the programs' finances. It has no authority whatsoever to change the EI program. This will not impact on EI Appeals or the Board of Referees. Finally - The Federal Government has transferred the responsibility (& funds) to the B.C. Provincial Government (as of Feb. 2, 2009). This means the referrals to training, the job creation partnerships, and other EI benefits programs and measures are now being administered by the Ministry of Housing and Social Development (MHSD). This type of transition takes time and it couldn't happen at a worse time!

CLC, Orion Irvine: Glenn Nowag read Orion's report. Orion stated that the CLC is undertaking a mobilization in the labour movement around the economic crisis. The target in the short term is EI reform. Rallies will be held across Canada with the first two in Ontario before the end of March. We would also be undertaking a lobby effort on the topic of EI reform. Approved EI claims are up 33% in BC over last year. Unemployment in the area is up to 6.4%. There is also a very long waiting list for EI. Claims are taking well over the 28 days that is mandated. They are trying to clear the back log but it's going to be a long time before this happens. In the longer term, retirement security, bank bailouts and interest rate spreads will also be issues addressed by the campaign. This is going to be a yearlong campaign that will form a large part of the CLC's work for the coming year. Provincial Election; the BC Fed is gearing up its Count Me in campaign. 22 organizers across BC are working on the campaign. Day of Morning materials are being produced and Orion will send them out.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
NOLC Executive Oath of Office was administered by Pat Bulmer.
BC FORUM: A letter from the CLC regarding BCFORUM will come to the Labour Councils so that we can amend our by-laws.
BC Fed Women's Campaign School March 21-24 2009, Harrison Hot Springs, Provincial Election, Nikki Inouye, Northern Delegate, NOLC will attend.
The Gert Beadle award letter written by Karen Abramsen, was read aloud to the delegates and guests. Faye Saxon of BC FORUM, was nominated and will hopefully receive this award. The Award ceremony is being held, Sun., March 8, 2009.

NEW BUSINESS
National Day of Mourning, April 28, 2009. Day of Morning materials are being produced by the CLC and will be sent out soon.

FINAL CREDENTIALS REPORT
16 Delegates 10 Guests

GOOD AND WELFARE
Karen Abramsen; Okanagan Jazz & Blues Society mentioned the upcoming jazz event: Brandi Disterheft at the Habitat, Friday March 6th, 2009

ADJOURNMENT
The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Cheryl Stone, Recording Secretary.

NEXT MEETING: Vernon at the Village Green Hotel, April 8th, 2009, 7:00 pm

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