The Professional - July 2017 - Volume 43 - Issue 2
In this issue
Message from the President
Uncertain times, Convention 2017
By Frank Kohlberger
A Life in Libraries
Barbara Jo May retires after 35 years in the library system
Words by Jessica Woollard
A report on the PEA's twelfth convention
Unions and the movement for LGBT rights
Words by Benjamin Isitt
2016 Financial Statement
An overview of our 2016 financials
By Melissa Doyle
Standing up for Safety
A recent forester victory highlights the PEA at work
Words by Al Gallupe, Brett Harper and Jackie Wong
Farewell Al Gallupe
We bid a fond farewell to labour relations officer, Al Gallupe
Words by Scott McCannell
Young Worker Camp
Connect with young workers
I am honoured to have been re-elected as president at Convention 2017.
I am proud to be part of the PEA and promise to continue working on union growth and on ensuring that our members are well represented. Speaking of growth, I am delighted to announce that the PEA has added a new chapter! Please join me in welcoming the staff members of the Hospital Employees’ Union, who have voted to join us. We look forward to working with our new members.
The PEA recently held its 12th convention, which was attended by 68 delegates representing eight chapters. We debated 12 resolutions and made decisions that will shape the next two years of our organization. We also elected two new table officers: Susan Dempsey, in the role of second vice-president, and Melissa Doyle, in the role of secretary-treasurer. I know that Susan and Melissa will do a fantastic job in their new positions. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our outgoing table officers Warren McCormick and John Foxgord for their years of service to the PEA.
Democracy is key to our union, and having member representation at convention enables us to set the direction of our organization. It also enables us to chart a course that will ultimately improve the wages, benefits and working conditions of our members.
We live in uncertain times, especially with the lack of clarity surrounding the results of the May 9 provincial election. Whichever elected party or parties come into power, it will be up to them to set priorities regarding public sector wages and benefits, funding levels for post-secondary education and health care, and the role of the public service in resource management. We need to understand how these priorities will impact the PEA’s own strategic goals.
Thank you again for your continued support. I look forward to serving as your president for the next two years.
BARBARA JO MAY RETIRES AFTER 35 YEARS IN THE LIBRARY SYSTEM
Words Jessica Woollard
When you pick up the latest James Patterson mystery at the Kelowna library, or borrow last year’s best-foreign-film Oscar pick from the Vernon branch, the items you’re holding in your hand are provided courtesy of Barbara Jo May.
For the last seven years, May has worked as the adult collections librarian for the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL). The sprawling region, which includes 29 branches, spans an area about the size of Ireland—from Golden and Revelstoke in the north to Princeton and Hedley in the south.
The types of material May chooses range from music, movies and documentaries to books in every format—print, large print, ebooks, audiobooks and more. In selecting the material, she makes sure to balance popular titles with interesting works that people “might not find out about, because they’re under the radar.”
As May approaches her retirement, The Professional looks back on her 35-year career as a library professional, the changes she experienced, and the important role libraries play as the “living rooms” of modern society.
Once Upon A Time
Trout Creek #15. That’s the number on the library card May used while growing up in the small town of Trout Creek, near Summerland, BC. At that time, the “public library” consisted of a book deposit located in a private home. It was open for a few hours only, one day a week.
It wasn’t until May arrived at Simon Fraser University in the 1970s to study politics and anthropology that she discovered all that a library could be. “[The librarians] would fly around finding things for me…I was impressed with that kind of service and help,” she says.
After completing her undergrad, she returned to SFU to pursue a master’s degree in political science. Again, the SFU librarians had an impact, and eventually, May decided to leave SFU and enroll instead in the Master of Library Science program at the University of British Columbia, graduating in 1982.
Living the Dream
May’s career in libraries took her far and wide. Her first job was as a children’s librarian in Kelowna. Following that, she went to the Toronto Public Library, then to the Northwest Territories, where she helped establish public libraries in remote communities. “I used to joke that I had a third of the land mass of Canada as my territory,” she says.
For 10 years, May held positions at the Yellowknife Public Library, including chief librarian (the public library equivalent of CEO). She then worked at libraries in Alberta and British Columbia, holding various managerial positions.
As May neared the end of her career, she decided to return to the Okanagan—the place where her love of libraries began—and accept the adult collections position with ORL. “It’s never failed to amaze me how diverse the interests are,” May says. “I love that we get people who take out books on crazy subjects like raising goats for cheese making ... we want to serve the communities we’re in the best we can.”
Witness to Change
The library world had changed in the years since May worked at ORL the first time. In the 1980s, the librarians weren’t organized, though there was a lot of interest in the trade union movement, and May remembers marching in a protest. When she returned in 2010, the professional librarians (those with a master’s in library science) were part of the PEA. She got involved right away, first on committees and then on the executive. “There are so few of us in our chapter, I really believe everyone has to play a part, and generally people do… take turns in different roles,” she says. May adds that she attended many conferences and workshops through the PEA and was grateful for the opportunities to learn.
Perhaps the most significant change to libraries over the course of May’s career was the rise of computers and the Internet.
When May started working as a librarian, library materials were listed on catalogue cards, and librarians were needed to help patrons interpret the cards and find the items. With the advent of online catalogues, patrons could search for their own materials. This freed up the librarians to help patrons with more complex tasks, such as research, learning computer skills and developing the information-literacy skills necessary for evaluating what is or isn’t a reliable source.
Learning for Everyone
Libraries play an important role in protecting people’s right to intellectual freedom, a subject May is particularly passionate about. Throughout her career, she served on the Intellectual Freedom Committee and on the Information Policy Committee of the BC Library Association. May’s belief that people have the right “to choose what they like to read or view or listen to,” so as to make up their own minds about things, is a value upheld by public libraries.
Libraries are also often referred to as the living rooms of the community—gathering places where everyone is welcome to learn. As May notes, they are one of the few places where people come into contact with those who aren’t like them. “There can be someone who’s come in from a fancy car parked outside, and then someone who visits every day because they don’t have a home. Sometimes you see interactions among these people, and most of the time they’re respectful. There are few other places where this happens. That aspect of public libraries is really important—that everyone is there for their own reason, and it’s all equal.”
The Next Chapter
One of the reasons May enjoyed her long career as a librarian is that she sees herself as a bit of a magpie, who enjoys collecting little bits of information from all kinds of places. “As a public librarian, you learn something new every single day,” she says.
In retirement, May will continue to develop her magpie-like ways, gathering knowledge through travel, time with family and friends, and her long reading list.
“I feel blessed that I was able to work for most of my adult life in truly interesting jobs,” she says. “I have stories galore.”
A Booklist for PEA Members
As her final contribution before retiring, Barbara Jo May has compiled a reading list to inspire, inform and de- light PEA members. All titles are available at your local public library.
Soviet Princeton: Slim Evans and the 1932-33 Miners’ Strike by Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat
A fascinating history of events in Princeton, BC, in 1932 and 1933. Think nothing interesting ever happens in small towns? This story involves striking miners, restless relief-camp residents, a newspaper aligned with the mine owners, the master labour organizer Slim Evans, and active KKK members.
Unsettling Canada: A Wake-Up Call by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson
The late Arthur Manuel, who passed away earlier this year, was a Secwepemc leader and activist well known for defending Indigenous rights on the international stage of the UN and elsewhere. He left us this book, co-written with Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, that chronicles the modern struggle for Indigenous rights and land title and sets a course for achieving a sustainable economy for both settlers and First Nations. An intelligent and important work.
March by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; pictures by Nate Powell
A brilliant graphic memoir by Congressman John Lewis, a beloved American politician and one of the most important activists in the Civil Rights Movement. March tells Lewis’s life story in three short volumes—a perfect and moving melding of words and images.
Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott
In this short book, Lamott explores mercy as a form of radical kindness. Whether you are religious, spiritual or a confirmed atheist, you need this book. Lamott explores, with humour and honesty, where to find hope and meaning in our often-fractured lives and world. One critic describes Lamott as “C.S. Lewis by way of Janis Joplin by way of Erma Bombeck.”
Convention 2017: Unity in Uncertain Times
THE 2017 CONVENTION WAS ATTENDED BY 68 DELEGATES REPRESENTING EIGHT CHAPTERS FROM THE PEA.
Convention is a time for member delegates elected by the chapters to review the organizational health of the PEA, debate and vote on resolutions, elect table officers to serve on the Association executive and catch up on current trends in the policy environment for labour unions.
The 2017 PEA Biennial Convention took place May 12–13 in Victoria. This year’s convention built on the “stronger together” theme of the 2015 convention.
In their opening addresses, PEA President Frank Kolhberger and Executive Director Scott McCannell highlighted the progress the PEA has made through affiliation with the BC Federation of Labour (BCFED) and Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). Scott McCannell noted how access to “inside” intelligence has led to better decision making on issues such as raiding. “We hear where raiding activity is taking place and what other unions are doing to engage their members and fight raiding,” McCannell said. Frank Kohlberger pointed to the benefits of education and training, noting the number of younger PEA members who have participated in BCFED and CLC training events over the past two years. “It is important to support the education and development of young members in the PEA, as they are the future leaders of our union,” said Kohlberger.
The theme of uncertainty came up repeatedly during convention, evidenced in discussions about global political upheavals, increasing income inequality and rising rates of stress in the workplace. Frank Kohlberger noted how in BC, the stalemate resulting from the May 9 provincial election affects PEA members and unions as a whole, since the party that assumes power “will set the wages and benefits for our members who bargain in the public sector.” The reopening of NAFTA and other trade agreements with the US was identified as a further source of concern for organized labour in BC and Canada.
On a more positive note, Frank Kohlberger pointed to recent wins by organized labour in the “David vs. Goliath” battle between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the BC government over class size, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s recent success in winning a 30-year fight for pay equity.
Similar issues were echoed in presentations by four guest speakers. Alex Hemingway, a financial policy analyst at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, spoke about the taxation system in BC and its relationship to economic inequality. Edith MacHattie, a Occupational Therapist with the Health Sciences Association, shared insights from her work as an activist with the BC Health Coalition. Dermod Travis, executive director of IntegrityBC, spoke about corporate donations and electoral finance reform, while keynote speaker Rob Cottingham discussed the provincial election and its impact on unions.
Convention 2017 saw a relatively high number of resolutions put forward for debate, with a total of 12 resolutions passed. The resolutions included calls for action to oppose raiding by BC unions, encourage the engagement of younger PEA members and advocate for initiatives to support mental health and improved safety in PEA workplaces. The PEA’s constitution and bylaws were revised to require participation by at least 50 per cent of the membership in any vote that would change membership dues. Other resolutions called for lobbying the government to increase the number of PEA scientists in the public service and improve the quality of mental health services.
Election of PEA Table Officers
Congratulations to the four members who were elected to PEA table officer positions:
- Frank Kohlberger (GLP), president
- Sheldon Martell (GLP), first vice-president
- Susan Dempsey (UVic), second vice-president (new)
- Melissa Doyle (UVic), secretary-treasurer (new)
PEA service awards are presented to members who have demonstrated substantial and continuous service to the union. Sheldon Martell from the GLP chapter was the recipient of this year’s award. Sheldon was nominated for his sense of humour, his commitment to activism, his resolve to go above and beyond to help others and for being a consummate nice guy. Sheldon has served on the PEA executive team for six years and has played a key role on a number of GLP and PEA committees. A video celebrating Sheldon can be viewed here.
Barbara Jo May (ORL) and Natasha Carville (SMS) were also recognized for their exemplary service to the PEA. Barbara Jo will retire this year after 35 years as a dedicated librarian and literacy advocate. Read more about Barbara Jo’s incredible career in this issue of The Professional. Natasha served on the Association executive from 2011 to 2016 and has served on a number of committees.
UNIONS AND THE MOVEMENT FOR LGBT RIGHTS
Words Benjamin Isitt
“An injury to one is an injury to all.” This traditional rallying cry of the labour movement has assumed a new urgency in response to attacks on hard-won human rights by the Trump administration in the United States and reactionary movements closer to home in Canada.
In this context, it is important to remember that rights that have been won can be taken away, and that history never stands still. Examining the movement for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirited people (LGBT) in the labour movement and in broader society provides a timely reminder of how individuals and groups can combat discrimination and pursue equality.
Origins of the Gay Liberation Movement
In the 1970s, gays, lesbians and others whose sexuality or gender identity was found to be outside of mainstream norms faced overt and often violent discrimination. Until 1969, homosexual acts between consenting adults were prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada, and persecution of queer culture by police, prosecutors, border guards and other state officials was widespread.
Sparked by the 1969 Stonewall riots, which followed violent police raids on a gay and lesbian bar in Greenwich Village in New York City, members of the LGBT community turned to collective action and social protest to combat discrimination and advance their rights.
This nascent gay liberation movement embraced strategies from other equity-seeking groups such as the women’s liberation, Black Power and American Indian movements. In Canada, LGBT activism found expression as the Gay Liberation Front (GLF)–a radical organization opposed to conventional conceptions of marriage, monogamy and family. The aim of the GLF was to “transform all sexual and gender relations.”
In 1981, Canada had its own Stonewall when Toronto police raided four of the city’s five bathhouses and arrested 268 gay men. The incident marked the largest mass arrest in Canada since the invocation of the War Measures Act during the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) crisis a decade earlier. The Toronto bathhouse raids intensified LBGT advocacy and gave rise in 1986 to Canada’s second LGBT rights organization, Egale Canada (formerly Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere). Egale would become a major force for advancing legal equality and human rights in Canada.
The Labour Movement and LGBT Rights
Unions have often been at the forefront of actions to expand LGBT rights, building on the efforts of women’s rights activists who challenged the movement’s patriarchal attitudes and pursued “social unionism.”
In 1986, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) responded to pressure from LGBT members and affiliated unions by amending its constitution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
A year earlier, the Canadian Auto Workers had revised its constitution to include in its oath of office a pledge by all union leaders to fight discrimination, including discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
In 1989, the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) in British Columbia went a step further by securing recognition for same-sex benefits in its collective agreement with health employers. This precedent provided the basis for a 1991 lawsuit filed by the HEU on behalf of a member, Tim Knodel, whose terminally ill partner was denied coverage by the BC Medical Services Commission. In a landmark decision, the BC Supreme Court ruled in favour of the HEU and Knodel, ordering the commission to recognize same-sex partners as “spouses” and provide medical coverage.
Other unions soon followed in negotiating same-sex benefits for their members, buoyed by a CLC resolution calling on affiliated unions to make this a bargaining priority.
Around this time, LGBT caucuses began to emerge in a number of unions, beginning with the Public Service Alliance of Canada in 1990, followed by the Canadian Auto Workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, whose “Pink Triangle Committee” created an information kit to educate union members about sexual orientation and LGBT rights.
In the PEA, LGBT rights advanced along a similar path, with gender-specific language in collective agreements giving way to the gender-neutral “spouse,” providing same-sex partners with access to benefits that included extended health and survivor benefits. Same-sex couples also benefited from the expansion of parental leave provisions in the 1990s and 2000s, including paid leave for parents who adopt a child.
Constitutional Recognition of LGBT Rights
Gains made at the bargaining table during this time occurred alongside a flurry of litigation from the LGBT community to challenge discriminatory laws and secure formal equality.
Sexuality had been omitted as a prohibited ground of discrimination when the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was enacted in 1982 (defeated on a parliamentary committee vote of 23 to 2), so it was to the courts that the LGBT community turned to secure formal rights.
The struggle for Constitutional recognition of LGBT rights centred on cases involving benefits for same-sex couples, including access to spousal allowance under the Old Age Security Act in the Egan case (1995), extended health and life insurance benefits in Moore (1998), and pension eligibility in Rosenberg (1998), a case that successfully challenged the definition of “spouse” in the federal Income Tax Act. Other cases extended LGBT rights in the areas of immigration, housing, employment, adoption, finances and hate crimes.
These rulings led to sexual orientation being added to Section 15 of the Charter as a prohibited ground for discrimination, enshrining protection for LGBT rights in provincial and federal law. This advocacy culminated in Parliament’s enactment in 2005 of the Civil Marriage Act, extending the statutory right to marry to gay and lesbian couples.
Advances for LGBT Rights in British Columbia
Members of the LGBT community in British Columbia also experienced important advances toward statutory rights through legislative action in the 1990s. Following the 1991 provincial election, the New Democratic government of Mike Harcourt made good on its campaign promises to the LGBT community with the introduction of groundbreaking bills, beginning with amendments to the Medicare Protection Act in 1992 that extended the definition of “spouse” to couples living in “marriage-like” relationships.
Other legislative reforms followed in family law and related fields, including protections for same-sex partners following the dissolution of a common-law relationship. In 2000, the government adopted the Definition of Spouse Amendment Act. This statute extended the spousal definition to same-sex couples in a range of provincial laws, building on the precedent set in the HEU and Knodel case.
Debates and Directions for LGBT Advocacy
Certain radical elements in the LGBT community have questioned the wisdom of the litigation strategy, arguing that it has tended to shift the emphasis of the movement from collective goals focused on community organizing and social movement mobilization toward a more narrow focus on courtrooms, law and an apolitical view of equality oriented around individual rights.
This parallels a wider critique of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that challenges the Charter’s focus on a negative conception of liberty—one that protects individuals from discrimination—rather than on expanding access to positive social rights through the elimination of systemic forms of discrimination.
Radicals also criticize the litigation strategy for its reinforcement of traditional conceptions of family and property, arguing that the approach expands the definition of who constitutes a family and who has access to its privileges without uprooting basic social relationships. From the radical standpoint, this represents a retreat from the original promise of the gay liberation movement to “transform all sexual and gender relations.”
Recent moves to recognize the rights of transgender people have taken the LGBT and labour movements in new directions. At the Canadian Labour Congress’s Solidarity and Pride Conference in Vancouver in 2001, the rights of trans people—in the labour and LGBT movements and in society more broadly—was a central theme. There is growing recognition that trans people are among the most marginalized, and that unions must be proactive about defending their rights in the workplace.
The LGBT community has made great strides over the past 50 years—combatting discrimination and securing recognition of formal equality in collective agreements, in provincial and federal law, and in the attitudes of the public and social institutions. However, work remains to be done—both to defend existing gains and to propel equality in fresh directions.
Message from the Secretary Treasurer
In my first act as secretary-treasurer, I am pleased to present the 2016 financial report for members.
When the annual financial report was first published in The Professional in 2015, we recognized the importance of transparency as a key value for our members. Since then we have committed to providing a detailed annual summary of the PEA’s financial position in The Professional. PEA financial statements can also be reviewed online anytime. The full 2016 financial report can be viewed here.
The collection of dues revenue from members enables the PEA to continue to operate. We believe members have a right to know how their dues are being spent and invested. The PEA also maintains a large pool of investments. These assets provide a strong financial position from which we can engage in opportunities, proactively and responsively, in the best interest of our union and its members.
By drawing a limited income from our investments each year, we are able to fund a variety of projects and campaigns related to the defense of our union and other strategic initiatives, while preserving and growing our investments. PEA budgets are reviewed monthly by the Association executive, while the investment-earnings reports, with performance metrics and benchmarks, are reviewed on a quarterly basis.
I would like to thank our financial officer, Marc Joly, for the excellent job he does of managing the PEA’s finances and for his help with preparing files for the financial audit.
I also wish to thank our outgoing secretary-treasurer, John Foxgord, for his long years of service and dedication to ensuring the finances of the PEA are running smoothly.
I would also like to thank everyone who supported me in becoming the PEA’s new secretary-treasurer. I look forward to serving you throughout my term.
I hope this report demonstrates that our union’s finances are sound and well managed.
THE PEA'S GOT YOUR BACK-AND YOUR BOOTS. A RECENT VICTORY HIGHLIGHTS A UNION AT WORK
Words Al Gallupe, Brett Harper and Jackie Wong
On a typical workday, stewardship forester Judy Thomas can be found deep in the woods around Prince George, climbing through piles of blowdown and making her way up brushy creeks overlaid with wet logs to conduct the field surveys and assessments that are the tools of her trade.
As much of the work Thomas does takes place on slippery, debris-laden slopes, proper footwear is a must. Research has shown that caulk boots—the spike-soled boots worn by loggers, tree planters and other forestry professionals—are far more effective than regular hiking boots for preventing slips and falls when moving through dense forested areas like the ones Thomas frequents for work.
In spring 2016, Thomas was in need of a new pair of caulk boots. She’d been wearing the old ones since starting at the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations 16 years earlier, and they were held together with shoe glue. She purchased the new boots for $189.85 and—as per provisions set out in the GLP collective agreement—submitted the receipt to her employer for reimbursement.
The GLP contract allows for a worker to be reimbursed for caulk boots if she or he is required by the employer or by WorkSafe regulations to wear them. In her claim, Thomas described the rugged conditions of her fieldwork that necessitate the use of special footwear. For three months, she waited for a reply from the employer. When none was received, she inquired about the claim and was surprised to learn that the reimbursement had been denied.
“The manager’s reasoning was if one person got them, then the whole office would need caulk boots in simi- lar circumstances,” Thomas says. They said she was welcome to refuse work that was unsafe. But, Thomas explains, that would mean she would never be able to work in the bush as there are logs everywhere, and so could not do her job.
The PEA Stepped In
That’s when the PEA stepped in. A grievance was filed, and once again the employer made no response. When the grievance process expired, the PEA forwarded the matter to arbitration. More delays ensued as the arbitrator rescheduled the arbitration pending a recommendation from the Joint Occupation Health and Safety Committee (JOHS). Finally, in January this year, the JOHS committee recommended that, given the conditions in the field, caulk boots are the right footwear for safety.
Months after she first applied for a reimbursement for which she was entitled, Thomas finally received it.
“With all of the information out there saying that caulk boots will keep workers safe, it doesn’t make sense for employers to fight reimbursing employees for this cost,” says Al Gallupe, a PEA labour relations officer. “It’s a small cost compared to the larger ones resulting from an injured employee.”
The case, Thomas says, “shows we need unions to protect and maintain basic worker safety and basic rights.” To her, the importance of the win goes beyond an employer providing work-appropriate footwear; it’s about a union standing up for what’s in the contract.
"It was not about the $200 for the boots"
“It was not about the $200 for the boots. It was about ensuring others would not be denied their rights. It was the principle of it,” Thomas says. The case “shows we need unions to protect and maintain basic worker safety and basic rights.”
The case, she says, should empower anyone doing similar work to feel comfortable asking for what they’re entitled to.
“It makes you wonder how many workers are out there being quiet, through fear, while their collective agreement rights are being violated,” Gallupe says.
Farewell Al Gallupe!
LABOUR RELATIONS OFFICER RETIRES LEAVING A LEGACY
Words Scott McCannell
Labour relations officer Al Gallupe retired on June 30, 2017, after a stellar six years at the PEA servicing the GLP and OGC chapters. Al joined the PEA in the spring of 2011 at a time when the union was in a significant rebuilding phase. The match was perfect. Al brought a wealth of experience, including negotiating, grievance handling, disability management and job evaluation. His capacity to contribute did not stop there, however, as he continually jumped in where there was a need. He was especially able at helping to shape and implement the PEA’s renewal vision.
Always diligent and with his eye on the ball, Al set the standard for member servicing and grievance handling at the PEA. His perseverance in bargaining led to some significant gains for GLP members, such as higher levels of reimbursement for professional fees and greater flexibility in salary rates upon promotion or reclassification. He also established precedent-setting law regarding the rights of employees who are transferred out of the BC public service. While other public service unions balked at pursuing grievances in this situation, Al saw an opportunity to restore rights and achieve generous severance payments for long-serving members who would otherwise have received almost nothing. One of his most recent grievance wins—the result of weeks of effort—involved challenging an employer who was refusing to reimburse a member for required safety boots (story profiled in this issue).
Fairness for All
Al’s talents did not go unnoticed by the membership. Carl Withler, a GLP chapter chair and local rep, remarked that Al is “the single most knowledgeable person I have met with respect to labour relations and labour contract negotiations. He is our go-to guy when local reps like myself can’t find the answer, precedent or practice to assist employees and employers to ensure the contract is met. Al is personable, pleasant and knows everyone in their work and life role. He will be missed.”
Al was relentless with employers when he needed to be on behalf of members. He was especially forceful on issues of fairness in public service staffing and on the threat to GLP members (and the public generally) from the government’s policy of putting oversight into the hands of private companies. Yet because of his principled approach to advocacy, he built constructive relationships with and earned the respect of all of the employers he dealt with.
Al is the consummate pro at the bargaining table, and with years of bargaining experience, he has consistently regaled GLP bargaining committees with his own unique vernacular.
Here are a few of his more memorable zingers:
- We’re gonna’ be poppin’ a wheelie right in front of ‘em. Translation: we have a good solid rationale for our bargaining proposal.
- We pried open the can just enough to see the beans inside. Translation: Public Sector Employers’ Council (PSEC) mandates do not provide fair increases.
- If we cave like a cheap deck chair, then there will be progress. That’s where he’s coming from. Translation: the employer is seeking union concessions.
- I think the horse can see the barn. Translation: we are getting close to a tentative settlement.
I believe I speak for all of us when I say that Al made a profound impact on our PEA staff team, both collectively and as individuals. Without fail, his passion, compassion and positive outlook made our work lives richer. And so we wish our friend a long and happy retirement, knowing that he will now have more time for playing music, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with family.
Melissa Moroz and Rhiannon Bray will take over the servicing of Al’s chapters.
UPDATE: We created this video presentation for Al's retirement party that you may enjoy.
Young Worker Camp
Are you interested in a chance to connect with other young workers from around BC? As part of its commitment to developing young leaders, the PEA is offering to fund up to five PEA members aged 30 and under to attend the Young Workers’ School at Camp Jubilee, September 15–17, 2017.
Sponsored by the BC Federation of Labour, the camp is for members of affiliated BC unions who want to learn, connect and enhance their leadership skills.
Participants will attend short courses on topics such as Introduction to the Labour Movement, Workplace Mental Health, Leading Workshops with Confidence, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace, and others. Outdoor activities such as kayaking, hiking, archery and long boat canoeing will also be available.
The setting for the school is Camp Jubilee, a beautiful waterfront retreat in Indian Arm on Vancouver’s North Shore. The camp is accessible by boat only.
If you would like to participate in this event, please prepare a 250-word essay explaining why you wish to attend the camp. Email your essay to us by Monday, July 31, 2017.
Attendees will be asked to report on their experience to the PEA executive and will also be interviewed for The Professional.
For more information on the camp visit the PEA's event page.