May 1, International Workers’ Day

Used with permission by Ricardo Levins Morales, artist.

May Day is celebrated by millions around the world as International Worker’s Day. A national public holiday in many countries, it has come to be known as the original Labour Day and honours both the contributions of workers and the achievements of the Labour movement.

The origins of May Day are bloody. On May 1 1886, workers in Chicago went on strike en masse, demanding an eight-hour work day. In the plans for 2 years, workers were ready to march. Up to 80,000 joined a parade up Michigan Avenue, arm-in-arm carrying union banners demanding shorter hours of work, higher pay  and an end to child labour.

A May 4th demonstration turned violent when a bomb exploded in the ranks of police on hand to disperse the crowd. Police opened fire on the crowd and in their panic many shot their own men:  67 policemen were wounded and 7 died, though only one as a result of the bomb blast. Four workers died that night and many more were injured.

Martial law was declared and labour leaders were rounded up and jailed across the US. In Chicago, four labour activists were tried & hanged for their  roles in the Haymarket Affair. Three more were pardoned shortly after, and the unjust judicial process was condemned by the Governor.

Today, May Day is celebrated as Labour Day in almost every industrial nation. During the 1990’s, the Chinese Government even created a week long holiday to honour its workers, though the holiday was restored to 1 day in 2008.

Despite its American origins, Labour Day is not observed on May 1 in the United States.  Concerned by the political threat of a holiday conceived by socialists & anarchists, Grover Cleveland pronounced the first Monday of September as the official Labour Day in 1894. During the “Red Scare” years of the 1950’s, Eisenhower went further and declared May 1 “Loyalty Day” in America.

In Canada, a September Labour Day was also declared a holiday by Prime Minister John Thompson in 1894, bowing to pressure from the working class. Canadian Labour organizations do honour the day however, and we wish you  a very happy International Workers’ Day on May 1, 2016.

Originally published in the YEU Newsletter, April 2016

Non-Profits & Yukon Employees’ Union: A Note from the President’s Desk

Steve new camera

 In the last few years YEU has seen a marked increase in the number of workers employed by non-profit groups who wish to organize their workplaces.
YEU does not have an organizing budget or organizing staff and we don’t go out into workplaces looking to organize them. Workers come to us looking for information, for support and assistance. Sometimes those organic internal organizing drives are successful and we sign a new bargaining unit and sometimes the workers aren’t interested or ready to unionize. Either way we’ve learned a lot from our new non-profit groups.

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Teegatha’Oh Zheh Bargaining Team

It may seem a bit counter-intuitive to unionize a non-profit. After all, those who work in such organizations often choose to do so because the organization’s goals align closely with their own belief systems.  Few pursue a career in a field populated by non-profits and NGO’s because they expect to make a lot of money; that decision is usually driven by a deeply held conviction or interest. The truth is these organizations often have precarious budgets and suffer from lack of long term financial certainty.

So how on earth does bringing a union into the mix help a precariously funded not for profit organization? Well, there are lots of reasons to unionize and money isn’t always top of the list. In fact it’s almost never the main reason groups decide to organize.

Many of our new smaller units are governed by volunteer boards. A Board of Directors provides oversight and direction to an Executive Director (in some cases), who manages staff. The problems we see often stem from the challenges created when well-meaning directors attempt to make human resource, policy and management decisions without a background in human resources, policy development or NFP management. Decisions made for financial or ideological reasons can impact staff in ways that are unexpected and negative.

Inviting a union in helps to establish a structure that benefits all parties who contribute skill and energy to the function of the NFP. A well-crafted contract ensures the needs of workers and management are met, and roles and expectations are clear. It also creates a fair and predictable workplace – an enormous advantage in what is often an otherwise unpredictable environment. And a secure workplace means less turn over of staff, which is more economical.
Last weekend I attended a Talking Union Basics course. It was exciting to see so many people taking this union fundamentals course and especially rewarding to see members from our newer locals attending union training.

The one thing that stands out for me about our Union is that we are a truly democratic organization. That commitment to democracy is evident from the moment employees decide they want to organize and join YEU; a majority of workers must sign cards to be granted union certification with the federally regulated Canadian Industrial Relations Board. From that moment on,  decisions like what goes into their collective agreement, whether to accept or reject that collective agreement are in the workers’ hands.

 

I want to recognize the workers of Help & Hope for Families, Teegatha ’Oh Zeh and Skookum Jim Emergency After Hours Outreach Services for devoting endless hours to an organizing process that can feel extremely frustrating at times. To you and to those groups quietly working toward union certification, I say congratulations & welcome to YEU.

Steve Geick, President

Yukon Employees’ Union

International Women’s Day 2016 #PledgeForParity

International-Womens-DayInternational Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day – observed globally, also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

IWD has been observed since the early 1900’s – a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical changes… like women in the work force! Women worked outside the home in factories, on farms, in offices, as teachers and much more. Of course they earned far less than men, no matter that their work was often exactly the same. And their work was precarious and often dangerous.

In 2016 the value of women’s work cannot be denied or debated and the issues of gender parity, equal access, and pay equity cannot be ignored. Even today, depending on where they live, *Canadian women  earn between 74¢ and 82¢ for every dollar a man earns doing work of the same value.  For indigenous women and women of colour, the wage gap is even greater. The World Economic Forum estimates that it will take until 2133 for the world to entirely closes the economic gender gap.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” Gloria Steinem

Everyone – men and women – can pledge to take concrete steps to help achieve gender parity more quickly – whether to help women and girls achieve their ambitions, call for gender-balanced leadership, respect and value difference, develop more inclusive and flexible cultures or root out workplace bias. Each of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and commit to take pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity.

International Women’s Day is about celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action – both globally and at the local level. Join the international call for gender equality; do your part, take the pledge.   Add your voice  by using the hashtag #PledgeForParity      If you are in Whitehorse, make sure you pop by the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre to help them celebrate their 40th Anniversary on March 8th, and visit Yukon Women in Trades & Technology’s IWD Celebration with Yukonstruct. We’re overdue for action and we are overdue for parity.

On International Women’s Day and beyond, 
I pledge to …

Until there is true equality for women in all areas of our lives, there will be more work to do.

PledgeForParity-1

YEU Needs Shop Stewards!

YEU needs Shop Stewards…workers like you who are willing to take some training and be available to help colleagues who need an ear, someone to accompany them to a meeting or to help find a solution to a problem at work.

Who can be a Steward?  Any member in good standing of Yukon Employees’ Union can be a Shop Steward in their Local.

What about training? YEU has created a new staff position dedicated to strengthening our Shop Steward team. New training initiatives will be announced over the next year; it’s a very good time to step forward as a Steward!

YEU currently offers monthly Shop Steward Round Table sessions held the 3rd Wednesday morning of each month. These informal presentations offer opportunities to ask questions and learn from others. The PSAC office in Whitehorse also offers regular training on things like union structure, roles, Local Officers training and more. There is online training available through PSAC’s Education program and workshops are offered by affiliate organizations throughout the year.

Rob-Jones-Y010-President-2016Yukon Government has an employer/union co-facilitated course on the Grievance Process – required training for all YG Stewards which can be accessed by all YG members through the Quarterly. No union leave is required for this training. For other training approved during your regular work hours, YEU reimburses your employer for your time; you will not lose pay to attend.

What will I be expected to do? Your co-workers will likely ask you questions about the contract, the union or their own work situations. Stewards are called by our Intake Officer at YEU to accompany members to fact finding meetings with their manager or supervisor. Your role at these meetings is usually as an observer, note taker and provider of moral support. In some cases and with appropriate training, you may be asked to participate more fully in discussions at meetings, but not until you have received coaching and feel prepared to do so.

Is it all volunteer work?  Most contracts have a clause that permits Shop Stewards to do union work while on the job. You submit a leave form citing the appropriate article from your collective agreement for the time you spend researching or representing a member. Your pay will not be disrupted. Representation work done outside your normal work hours is done on a voluntary basis and is not compensated.

My workplace already has a Steward. Stewards represent workers from their Local, not just from their specific workplace so don’t let that stop you. The more well-trained Stewards we have the better.Teresa-Acheson-Miscal-Avano-Nesgaard

If I make a mistake, will someone lose their job? No. You will have a network of support including our well trained & experienced Union Advisors. As a Shop Steward you will have regular conversations with our staff in order to ensure everyone is working in unison for members.

How do I become a Shop Steward? Each Local’s bylaws are worded differently. Some dictate that Stewards are elected at the Local’s AGM, others allow for nominations and elections at any time.

Your Chief Shop Steward or your Local President will guide you through the process. Once we’re advised by your Local that you’re a Shop Steward, you’ll be invited to our office to be sworn in by our President or Vice-President. You’ll get an orientation to our office, staff and procedures and receive your New Steward’s package. Once you’ve met everyone, you’ll be registered for upcoming training.

Will becoming a Steward make me a target for my employer? Shop Stewards who are well trained and level-headed help create workplaces that function smoothly. Employers recognize the benefit of a union liaison in the workplace and are usually very happy to work with them. It’s in everyone’s best interest to solve problems quickly and cleanly. It is very rare that our Stewards find themselves in conflict with their employer simply by virtue of stepping forward as a representative.

Will co-workers expect me to be an instant expert on our contract, labour law and all things union?
Your role is to ensure members have fair representation and that all pertinent information is recorded, provided to the Union Advisor and kept confidential. You’ll need to get to know your contract but we do not expect you to interpret the agreement or be up to date on all labour issues.Talk to a steward

A Steward needs to be compassionate and organized. The Steward’s role is one of problem solver and witness.

At some point in their careers about 50% of workers call their union. It might be a simple question about vacation leave, a scheduling issue or ongoing and persistent harassment from a co-worker or supervisor. To meet our members’ needs when they need support we need your help. Please call your Chief Shop Steward, Local President or the YEU Office today. Visit yeu.ca for contact info.

Remember; join us the 3rd Wednesday of each month for Shop Steward Round Table training sessions; informal workshops geared to skill building. We also invite you to an informal Sandwich Session at lunch the 1st Tuesday of each month. This is a training fee casual get together just to build our network and get to know each other. Call David Anderson at YEU, 667-2331 or email danderson@yeu.ca

Greetings from YEU Local Y010 President Rob Jones

Greetings Brothers & Sisters, Friends & Colleagues.exec-adjusted

It is a great honour for me to be able to write to you as the new President of Local Y010. I am humbled to have been nominated and trusted to continue the great work of our past President and Executive.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sister Tammi Sikorski for all her hard work, sacrifice and dedication to the local. This was greatly appreciated and I clearly have a high standard to meet in keeping up with Tammi’s leadership over these past few years.  Thank you Tammi, we owe you more than we can ever possibly convey.

I would also like to thank Brother Richard Wagner for his work and representation for the Local and YEU as a whole as our Chief Shop Steward.  His knowledge, mentorship and representation were greatly appreciated.

We also say goodbye to Sisters Kat Traplin and Yoshiko Atkins, their voice, experience and dedication to the Local were greatly appreciated and will be missed. Thank you for your service. We wish you all the best in the future.

Please allow me to introduce your Local Y010 Executive:

President: Rob Jones
Chief Shop Steward: Paul Davis
Assistant Chief Shop Steward: Laurie Tamminen
Secretary / Treasurer: Denise Berken
Directors:  Duane Purych, Khusru Zaman, Aziz Mollah
Kathy Donnelly, Amber Harder and Danielle Swift.

We have two Director vacancies. If you are interested in being an active voice in your Local please contact me to discuss the roles and responsibilities of a Local Director.

Over the next year local Y010 has an ambitious agenda including:
Y010 new logo 2014
Signing off all RAND members:
A RAND is a worker in the union environment who has not filled out a union card; presently Y010 has some RANDs.  As a RAND your union dues are being deducted, however you do not have all the benefits of full membership.  We will be working in the community and workplaces to ensue our members are converted from RAND to fully signed members to protect your rights.
Not sure of your membership status? Call YEU at 667 2331. They’ll send you a card if you haven’t signed yet.

Shop Steward training and recruitment:
Local Y010 has approximately 2500 members and is growing. At present we have 10 active Shop Stewards looking after your representation needs.  These dedicated Brothers and Sisters are working to ensure your rights in the workplace.  If you are interested in becoming a Shop Steward or have questions about the roles and responsibilities please contact the YEU office at 667-2331 or contact me and I will be happy to chat.  Moving into 2016 there will be new resources and training initiatives for current and new Stewards.

Social awareness:
We’re working hard to ensure social awareness and initiatives in each community.  We’re always looking for members’ ideas, input and comments on how to move our local forward. Our Local meets at 5:30pm the 2nd Tuesday of each month in the YEU Hall. Please attend a Local meeting; we need you!

Lastly, this is a bargaining year and our collective agreement is on the table.  Your Bargaining Team will be working hard to ensure your rights & make sure you are informed.  Ratification meetings will be announced and held after bargaining; be informed and be engaged. Sign up for regular bargaining update emails at http://www.yeu.ca.

Your local executive is working hard for you, we welcome your comments, concerns, and ideas.  Please contact me at rgjones@northwestel.net or call me at 867 334 4331.

In Solidarity,

rob jones

 

 

Rob Jones, President- Local Y010

Farewell, 2015

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This has been a busy and productive year for the Yukon Employees’ Union. Not without its challenges, 2015 offered YEU opportunities to stand up for Yukon Hospital Corp workers and Yukon’s school bus drivers. We saw new workers choose us as their representatives on the job as we organized new Locals in Haines Junction & Whitehorse. Dawson City employees joined forces with YG workers in the Klondike region to form a brand new super-local and we were BUSY!

We welcomed new staff to YEU, held training events & joined you in celebrating some important milestones. Our 50th Anniversary observance spanned the year and culminated in a great party in November. We bbq’d, skated, watched films together and celebrated Human Rights. Our members came for training, joined PSAC Committees and helped bring about important change in our communities. Thank you, YEU members. You are an inspiring group of individuals and we’re proud to work hard for and with you all year ’round.

From all of us to all of you, Happy New Year. May 2016 bring you health, happiness and peace.

Best Wishes,
Yukon Employees’ Union Staff & Executive

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YACL: Building Strong & Diverse Communities

YACL for 2015 December newsletterReady, Willing and Able is a new national employment program aimed at increasing the labour force participation rate of people with disabilities. This federally-funded initiative has been launched in 20 communities across Canada and has seen some great successes; Whitehorse is no exception. The Yukon Association for Community Living is moving into our second year of working with the program.

YACL’s employment team is made up of a Labour Market Facilitator and several job coaches. Together we have worked to support more than 20 new employment opportunities for Yukoners experiencing various disabilities.  As part of our role, we’ve engaged with dozens of employers to identify employment opportunities and we’ve provided on-the-job support to workers with disabilities and to their co-workers and supervisors. Support comes in the form of ongoing job coaching and other job-specific accommodations.

We hear so many success stories both nationally and locally as employers access a pool of hard working, long term and dedicated employees who love their jobs. These workers are gaining independence and building a social circle and meaningful ways to participate and actively contribute to their community. We start with the employer’s need and work to find the right match of skills and interest in an employment candidate. YACL is working to foster long lasting and successful working relationships between businesses and employees who are hard working, positive and capable additions to the workplace team.

The types of jobs found and supported through Ready, Willing and Able range from less than part-time to full-time, in small businesses to large, and across a variety of skill sets.

A key component of Ready, Willing and Able is helping businesses realize the value in hiring a person with a disability when the right match is made between job position and individual. In these cases, businesses across the country are seeing extremely low turnover rates, high levels of accuracy and dedication and an overall positive and motivating shift in workplace culture.

YACL has also initiated and coordinates an Odd Job Squad; a group of people who have interest and ability in  labour and trades work, offering short term services to businesses and community members.  They mobilize for odd jobs like small construction projects, snow shovelling, yard work, stacking wood and more. By supporting a good quality and dependable on-demand labour force we help workers gain skills and make connections, developing opportunities for longer-term future employment.

YACL has partnered with YuWIN and other disability organizations, developing new campaigns to further engage the business community and other potential employers. This includes web-based marketing but also provides opportunities to recognize success. We thank businesses that have been key players in inclusive hiring.  We plan to develop training and education opportunities for businesses who may be interested in becoming involved but want to learn more.

If you’re interested in the Odd Job Squad or in becoming a supporter of our programs please contact Kathleen Hare at rwa@ycommunityliving.com or 667-4606.

Article submitted by Yukon Association for Community Living
http://www.ycommunityliving.com