I’m submitting my activities report for the period of October 2019 to April 6, 2020, as Regional Vice-President (RVP) for the Quebec Region.
I was elected RVP for the Quebec Region in October 2019 in a by-election following the retirement of our sister Nancy Gagné. I want to first start out by saying thank you to Nancy for all her hard work, dedication and representation for you, our members in the Quebec Region. We wish Nancy a wonderful retirement.
As part of this mandate, I recognized the importance of strengthening our union locals, and one way of accomplishing this is by having a well-diversified team in order to ensure all members are represented. We were also able to strengthen our union locals by broadening our team by engaging non-elected members in addition to our elected local executives. This will not only increase visibility and strength of our Union but will also encourage new union interest and participation. I believe that investing our focus on a strong team will promote one of my main objectives of having active, engaged and informed members.
The Quebec region has seen a total transformation within the two new locals; Quebec local 10007 and Montreal local 10042. With a risk of going under trusteeship with the Quebec local 10007, we held elections in November 2019. I was present at the election process to explain the importance and benefits of having representation in house. I explained the role for each position and reassured them that I would be there to support and guide them. This election turned out to be a total success with a new President, two Vice-Presidents, a treasurer, a secretary and 3 non-elected shop stewards.
The Montreal Local 10042 was also successful during their election process held in January 2020 with a new President and Vice-President joining the existing team composed of the Treasurer and 8 non-elected shop stewards.
With my objectives in mind and commitment to my new team, I have been busy providing them with support to bring the locals to a level of independence. I am answering questions, mentoring, providing feedback and shadowing the new Presidents in some of their tasks such as; consultations with members and employer, participating in local Labour Management Consultation Committee (LMCC) meetings and helping with level 1 grievances as needed as well as other tasks. It is great to see that since the Locals’ debuts, and training which has been well received, my involvement at the local level, in the day to day union activities have decreased as the Local Executive gain more experience.
The Quebec region has been without a permanent Area Director since September 2019 and since then we have had two acting Area Directors for a term of four months minus a day each. The Montreal District has also experienced a very impactful reduction in resources at the management level, having three management positions filled by acting for four months minus a day. I can tell you that this presents a set of challenges, particularly around consistent communication between management, and our efforts on files-issues that have been ongoing with the employer.
I receive regular complaints from the members regarding management related issues and I have been actively working with the local offices to help them address issues and complaints that they have raised. These complaints were more generally related to the need for consistent leadership, transparency, and increased support.
We held a general meeting with the case managers from the Montreal office and management to address over 10 written complaints that I received from that specific group. During this meeting, issues were addressed, and management were provided with a list of staff expectations. For example; having regular team meetings, sharing of important information, transparency, especially in staffing and opportunities and support. As a result of this meeting, I am engaged in actively requesting clarification and ensuring follow-ups with the collaboration of the local president.
The president of local 10042 continues in the process of setting up his team with well-defined roles and responsibilities to better support the Montreal, St-Jean and Gatineau offices.
The Quebec District also had their share of issues adapting to the new governance. Having said that, the President of local 10007 has been working actively with his team in engaging all members from the three different locations under his region while keeping them informed every step of the way and building good communication and trust with management.
I work closely with the Presidents of union locals; having regular meetings, assisting them as needed in advancing the interests of the members. We work together in finding alternative methods to support mental health in the workplace. The union locals have provided funding to the six different offices to support activities to favor mental health and having an inclusive and a positive feeling in the workplace.
I have also been working on a few files regarding return to work after a period of long-term leave. These types of leave require negotiation for duty of accommodations. I am currently working on two ongoing complex files in collaboration with Sun Life, PSAC National Pensions and Disability Insurance Officer and Human Rights Officer whom all had to be involved to ensure members’ rights are protected.
I also provided feedback and participated in a teleconference with our UVAE National Labour Relations Officer and the PSAC Classification Specialist regarding the Veteran Services Agent grievance. This is the process used to establish if there is ground for a reclassification and was very informative and educational. I was able to transfer those skills and apply this type of critical thinking in other files.
During the period that covers this report, I participated in only one second level grievance hearing. I’m hoping that the fact that there was only one second level grievance is a direct result of the level of engagement and groundwork that the locals are doing. I want to thank the Local Executives and shop stewards for their commitment and hard work to ensure our members are cared for and that their rights are protected.
The following is a list of additional activities completed during the period covered in this report:
- I attended my first five-day NEO meeting in Ottawa in November 2019. It was a wonderful experience in learning more about our Component and meeting our National Team.
- I attended the PSAC National Health and Safety, a three-day conference, held in November 2019 in Montréal.
- I sit on the UVAE NEO Human Rights Committee
- I attended the Gatineau LMCC in December 2019.
- I’m a trained Union Joint Learning Program facilitator and I have facilitated the following sessions;
Duty to Accommodate; Respecting Differences / Anti-Discrimination; Preventing Harassment and Violence in the Workplace; Understanding the Collective Agreement.
It is important to note that the National Team has been extremely involved and dedicated in the current crisis of COVID-19 ensuring the safety of our members. We continue to work hard and ensure members’ well-being is not compromised in this unprecedented situation.
I have to say, that the learning curve as RVP has been a challenge though a very exciting and rewarding experience. I look forward to continuing to work hard to help protect all our rights.
Regional Vice-President Quebec