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I am impressed by the ever-increasing engagement and commitment of our members. This tells me that our union is healthy and vibrant, a place where democracy is at work. It tells me that we are moving towards our vision in which we are all proud guardians of quality, professional public services that promote the well-being of our communities.
Thank you to our members who recently participated in our 14th PEA Convention. I am grateful to have been re-elected as your president for another term. Over the last two years I have learned about our structure, individual chapter dynamics, and the dedicated volunteers and staff who support our union.
As president of the PEA, my primary role has been to preside over executive meetings. It is at these meetings where union guidance, direction and decisions are made on behalf of you, the members. Your executive and committees work to support efficient operations and effective governance of the PEA. The executive is focused on nurturing an inclusive and collaborative environment through respectful discussions.
The pandemic has presented challenges, yet our PEA executive, staff and members have shown resiliency and strength in navigating this new reality. We have kept our focus on the strategic direction of the union, and recognized the importance of taking care of each other. Thank you to the executive for your continued commitment to the PEA.
Although networking has been challenging during this period, we continued to build the power and influence of the PEA within provincial and national labour forums. We have worked to educate our allies and the public on who our members are, what we do and why it is important to support us.
Our voice and interests are heard at the BC Federation of Labour executive council meetings, the BCFED annual convention and the Professional Unions Network of Canada.
These next two years will be busy for the PEA. The focus will be on bargaining fair and equitable collective agreements for seven of our ten chapters. This is the most important business of our union, which will require everyone’s input and support to stay focused on bargaining priorities. You have a team of dedicated staff and volunteers working on your behalf, and I encourage you to reach out and thank them for their efforts and work.
I would like to acknowledge and thank our new table officer team: Melissa Doyle (secretary-treasurer), Cherene Palmer (first vice-president), and Cliff Haman (second vice-president). These members bring a breadth of knowledge, skills, life experience and sincerity to their volunteerism with the PEA, and I am thankful for their unwavering commitment.
I would also like to thank Ronda Field, as outgoing second vice-president, for her many years of commitment and service to the PEA and Health Science Professionals chapter.
Looking ahead, I am hopeful that we will return to a more normal way of life; however, I also know that many of our processes have evolved and that some changes have been for the good. The pandemic has created opportunities for us to reach many more members through online training and engagement. I am optimistic about our future, our resiliency, and our ability to adapt and support each other.
We continue to lobby the provincial government to prioritize and protect our members and other front-line workers as they work to keep our communities healthy, functioning and safe. There are challenges ahead as we head into a busy year of bargaining, a but I am confident in our ability to successfully bargain agreements focused on improvements in wages, benefits, and working conditions.
I wish you plenty of sunshine and over the next few months!
With theatres dark since the start of COVID-19, performers have sought to deliver their art through virtual mediums such as Zoom, Facebook Live, and Vimeo. But these digital options lack a key element of performance: a live, responsive audience.
“I don’t believe theatre exists without an audience,” says Sandra Guerreiro, audience services manager in the University of Victoria’s Department of Theatre. “A live show actually changes depending on the audience. The audience informs the show. The show is not real without an audience. It’s just a rehearsal.”
Guerreiro has attended almost every performance of every show at UVic’s Phoenix Theatre since 1982. She speaks from experience when she says the magic of live theatre requires a symbiosis of performers and audience. Energy from the stage intermingles with energy from the audience, creating a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A graduate of the UVic Theatre program, Guerreiro has worked in the department for 35 years, since the year after her graduation in 1985. She’s part of a small team of eight PEA members, from technical director, to the head of wardrobe, to head of props, who form the department’s core professional staff. She met her husband, Charles Procure, through UVic theatre; he held the head of scenic construction position for more than 30 years until his retirement in 2020. Two of their three sons went through the department; their third, a dancer, studies performance at another institution.
Although she started as an actor, Guerreiro’s calling has been to ensure audiences have an incredible experience at the theatre. Her passion for the work comes through in her memories of past shows at the Phoenix. She recalls in delightful detail scenes of crowds jumping to their feet, cheering; shows held over due to demand; and audience members donating funds to the theatre, moved to give by the power of performance. “They’re not just coming to see the show. They’re supporting the students, the process, the creative experience,” she says.
Originally from Vancouver, Guerreiro was introduced to UVic in 1981, when she attended a seven-week summer theatre program for high school students from across the country. It changed her life.
“I fell in love with UVic theatre,” she remembers. “I thought, these are my people, this is what I want to do and where I want to go.”
Already scheduled to begin her post-secondary studies at Langara College, Guerreiro returned to Vancouver for one year and then transferred to UVic. She’s been there ever since.
A live show actually changes depending on the audience. The audience informs the show. The show is not real without an audience. It’s just a rehearsal.
As an acting student, Guerreiro performed in student productions but also learned about theatre administration. Over the summers she balanced acting with working shifts in the theatre’s box office. The summer after graduating, half-way through the teacher education program at UVic, her supervisor and mentor, Bindon Kinghorn, the theatre manager of the Phoenix at the time, asked her why she was leaving the theatre to teach. Guerreiro jokingly answered, “It’s not like someone’s offering me a job.” The next day, Kinghorn did just that, offering her a part-time position as his assistant.
She took the job, and over the next three decades, the position evolved to match the changing times. She went from assistant to the theatre manager, to assistant theatre manager to audience services manager, with a few other titles in between.
“I guess I made myself indispensable,” she says humbly. “Literally, I created my job based on my own skills.”
In addition to her work as audience services manager, Guerreiro team-teaches a production management course for first- and second-year students. Other PEA theatre staff also instruct in their areas of specialization—costumes, lighting and sound, stage management, scenic construction, props, communications, and audience services.
She also plans special events for the department, which over the years have drawn thousands of people and raised tens of thousands of dollars. She organized the department’s 25th and 50th anniversaries, the latter of which involved six themed events over a long weekend. It was attended by alumni from across Canada and the United States and as far away as England.
Guerreiro confesses that finding work-life balance is a work in progress. The typical 9 to 5 schedule doesn’t exist in the theatre world, even when the theatre is connected to an institution that follows more traditional business hours. It’s not unusual for the production team to work all day and stay at the theatre late into the night, Guerreiro explains, admitting she has even postponed two family funerals during show runs. “No one forced me to do this, and my department was very supportive of me taking any time off, but I just felt that I couldn’t leave my students or my department without backup,” she says.
When asked what it is that makes theatre people devote that kind of time, effort and heart to a production, she laughs and says, “Artists are kind of crazy. They’re very, very committed and passionate about their art.”
For her, it’s also about love of what she does: “I love working with students. I believe in what we do; I believe in the program.”
Guerreiro’s commitment to her theatre students and colleagues inspired her to get involved with the PEA in 1995, the year the UVic chapter was formed. She’s been a local representative from the start and has sat on every bargaining committee since 2004. She’s also a member of the committee that meets with university administration in between rounds of bargaining and was recently elected to the UVic executive.
For someone with self-declared difficulty achieving work-life balance, why add this extra commitment? Because of her colleagues, Guerreiro says. “I feel like, here in the Department of Theatre, we’re different. We’re a small department and a poor department, and we have different needs when it comes to our collective bargaining,” she explains. She wants to be a voice for her colleagues and to play an active role in conversations with the university about the best interests of the department.
Joining the PEA helped immensely with improving working conditions, she adds. Now members track their overtime and are compensated fairly for it.
Work-life balance has been better during COVID-19, Guerreiro admits, but it’s only because public performances are prohibited. She feels the loss immensely. Live theatre is her vocation and passion; her work and life. Audiences feel the loss, too, she says. “I’ve been doing a donation campaign, contacting all our patrons. They’ve been so generous. They say they miss the work we do.”
Livestreamed performances are on the horizon for the Phoenix Theatre, but they don’t have the same magic, for either students or audiences, Guerreiro says. Nonetheless, as audience services manager, she’ll use her creativity to think of ways to engage people watching on screens. As she always has, she’ll adapt her role to deliver an unforgettable theatrical experience.
Remembering theatergoing before COVID-19, she reminisces about productions she’s seen at the Phoenix, on Broadway, and in London’s West End. She recalls musicals attended during family holidays and plays she snuck out to between conference sessions. She describes the thrill of being thoroughly swept up by the energy of a performance that closes with a genuine, spontaneous standing ovation.
“You just stand up,” she says. “You don’t even know you’re standing up; your body just does it. You’re yelling and clapping. You are in love. That’s what I love about theatre.”
It was a day that marked a first in PEA history. As a result of the COVID-related health orders received in March, the 14th PEA Convention pivoted within three weeks from a two-day in-person event to a half-day, completely virtual experience. Held on April 29 during the afternoon, chapter-elected delegates reviewed the PEA’s finances, debated and voted on resolutions, and elected table officers to serve on the Association executive.
The convention opened with President Shawna LaRade acknowledging the Ktunaxa and Little Shuswap territories, where she lives and works as an agrologist with the Government Licensed Professionals chapter. She then addressed the delegates, walking them through the agenda, online voting platform, and introducing parliamentarian Lisa Zwarn, who assisted with convention proceedings.
Shawna then gave a brief overview from her president’s report, sharing that the PEA made significant progress on our strategic goals over the past two years. She noted that the PEA increased resiliency by focusing on internal and external organizing, and committed resources to enable both new member growth and member engagement. She also shared that the PEA focused on education to help ensure that our union celebrates our diversity and provides equitable and inclusive opportunities to learn, grow and participate in union business. Finally, she reported that the Association Executive worked effectively to focus on common interests and goals since 2019, and table officers have also made significant contributions.
Next, Executive Director Scott McCannell reported on the upcoming collective bargaining and noted the positive member-satisfaction measures of PEA bargaining approaches. His report addressed grievance activity and staff changes. Both the president and executive director reports were available in the convention program.
PEA Secretary-Treasurer Melissa Doyle discussed the overall financial health of the union, noting that it has been a positive two years and the PEA is doing well financially despite the market turbulence that the pandemic has caused. Melissa shared that she appreciates how resistant our portfolio is to market volatility and thanked Raymond James, the firm that manages the PEA investment funds, for their efforts. The 2019 and 2020 finance reports will be released for members shortly.
Baker Tilly Victoria, which acquired long-serving PEA auditor Cowland and Associates, was appointed as the PEA’s auditor until the next convention.
The Resolutions Committee made recommendations of support on the 13 submitted resolutions, two of which were combined.
The Resolutions Committee introduced the list of resolutions submitted by members and recommended support for all 13 of them, two of which were combined. A resolution is a motion or proposal submitted to the delegates, urging a policy or a course of action that will guide the union in the coming months or years.
The following resolutions were passed by delegates:
1. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA will leverage our relationship with the BC Federation of Labour and work with other unions to develop a coordinated wage improvement strategy and lobby PSEC before the start of next bargaining round
2. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that PEA denounce violence and discrimination based on race, colour and origin;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that PEA call upon members to speak out against discrimination in the basis on race, colour, indigeneity, religion, and cultural or ethnic origin, and take proactive steps to prevent the occurrence of intolerant, discriminatory or racist acts in their homes, workplaces and communities; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that PEA continue to educate members about systemic racism, privilege and inclusion; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that PEA lobby the provincial and federal governments to uphold the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and the British Columbia Human Rights Code and end systemic racism.
3. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA Constitution and By-laws be amended to use inclusive language.
4. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA adopts a triennial convention and revises the PEA Constitution and By-laws accordingly.
5. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA promote the development of enhanced extended care benefits and counselling services to address mental health issues of members and their families, through negotiations in the next round of PEA bargaining in conjunction with BC Federation of Labour advocacy.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the PEA provides information and other supports for members and staff to assist with good physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health and well-being and also provides supports to promote safety in PEA workplaces; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the PEA will promote employers taking action in workplaces to improve members’ well-being.
6. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA will actively support and promote campaigns that aim to raise minimum labour standards.
7. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA explores expanding leave options for members to support caregiving responsibilities for the next round of bargaining and in conjunction with the BC Federation of Labour advocacy.
8A. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA advocates that the federal, provincial and municipal governments recognize and affirm that access to water and sanitation are fundamental human rights, and opposes privatization in any form of water and wastewater treatment services.
8B. BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA calls upon the federal government to allocate $4.7 billion to water and wastewater infrastructure in First Nations communities, as called for by the National Engineering Assessment, and to develop a national plan to implement human rights to water and sanitation.
8C. BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA will create and promote educational content regarding the importance of clean drinking water as well as the facts surrounding clean drinking water in Canada including Indigenous communities.
8D. BE IT RESOLVED THAT the PEA will not enable bottled water to be sold or provided at any meetings or events where potable water is available.
8E. BE IT RESOLVED THAT the PEA will call on the federal government to enshrine water and sanitation as human rights in Canadian law.
9. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA shall call for the federal and provincial governments to: A) consider strategies for low-income workers to access paid sick leave benefits through EI or government programs; B) work with small business owners to develop a plan for provision of sick leave benefits, and C) enact paid sick leave provisions in federal and provincial law.
10. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA, in the pursuit of climate justice, lobby municipal, provincial and federal governments to: A) support the development and proliferation of renewable sources of energy and fuel, particularly wind and solar, and; B) support sustainable land use, forest conservation, and reforestation, and; C) support of the rights of Indigenous peoples; D) recognize that access to clean and affordable water is necessary and important, and; E) support for coordinated municipal, provincial, federal and global efforts to manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the PEA calls on members to take personal and collective action to save our planet.
11. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the PEA will promote the importance of science in policy-making, the importance of science education, and the value of science to society.
12. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Professional Employees Association lobby the provincial and federal governments, including the Ministries of Health and the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to explore creative solutions and incentives for the recruitment and retention of Health Science Professionals (physiotherapists, psychologists and pharmacists) in public practice including (but not limited to) signing and retention bonuses, loan forgiveness programs and salary adjustments to make public practice employment more attractive; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that PEA continue to actively participate in the Joint (Unions and Health Employers Association of BC) Recruitment and Retention Committee to advocate for and strategize regarding recruitment and retention of Health Science Professionals.
An election was held for only the second vice-president position. The other three positions were awarded by acclamation. Congratulations to the four members who were elected to the following positions:
• Shawna LaRade (GLP), President
• Cherene Palmer (HESU), First Vice-President
• Cliff Haman (UVic), Second Vice-President (new)
• Melissa Doyle (UVic), Secretary-Treasurer
Thank you to outgoing table officer Ronda Field for her volunteerism and dedication within the union and her HSP chapter these past two years.
PEA service awards are presented to members who have demonstrated substantial and continuous service to the union. Brent Hird, from the Family Maintenance Agency (FMA) chapter, was the recipient of the 2021 award. Brent has been the FMA chapter chair for over 15 years. During this time, he has provided the FMA with exemplary legal support, including serving for eight years on the Association executive, and through three negotiating rounds on the FMA Bargaining Committee. The last round of negotiations for his chapter were very challenging, but through it all, Brent was steadfast in his commitment to FMA members. Congratulations, Brent, on this much-deserved award.
Thank you also to all of the members from the Credentials, Resolutions, Sergeant-at-Arms, and Ways and Means Committees for their time and dedication. We sincerely appreciate your involvement.
And of course, thank you to the 58 delegates who took the time to attend convention and to debate, decide and vote on the business of our union. We appreciate that Zoom fatigue
is real and that a virtual event is not the same meeting in person. We also acknowledge that our decision to focus on the business of convention, with our choice of platforms, meant limited opportunity for social interaction and relationship building. Thank you for sticking with us through a very condensed and full agenda.
We look forward to hopefully having everyone together for our next convention in 2024.
Our Executive Committees are established following convention to serve the ongoing functions of the Association. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit www.pea/org/executivecommittees and submit your name by June 10, 2021. Members are appointed to committees for three-year terms and meet virtually, two or three times per year. Union leave is available.
The PEA is looking for members to volunteer as scrutineers in the 2021 and 2022 online elections. Scrutineers oversee voting procedures and ensure that all PEA policies relating to elections are followed. The time committment is about one hour per ballot. Training and union leave will be provided. Email email@example.com to volunteer.
The PEA office in Victoria remains closed, and a future reopening in 2021 will be assessed based on the status of the pandemic. All services continue to be provided remotely and virtually where possible.
We’re pleased to welcome Katt McGrath to the PEA team in the role of Administration Assistant—Communications. Katt is on a one-year term and recently graduated from UVic with a masters degree in global business.
Our annual member survey was sent out in May, the results will be used in the PEA’s strategic planning and chapter communications planning processes. Thank you in advance for taking time to share your thoughts with us.
We wish HESU member Jacquie Janum all the best in her retirement. Jacquie was a long-time chief steward and president of her union and we sincerely appreciate her dedication to the HESU executive.
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