National Coming Out Day

This National Coming Out Day, come out as an ally!

National Coming Out Day is October 11. It’s a day for the men and women of the LGBT community to stand strong and be counted. It’s by being visible – not hiding in a closet – that we can make change happen.

But we can’t do it without allies! We can’t defeat homophobia and transphobia without our straight brothers and sisters standing with us.

There is strength in numbers. By standing together in solidarity, we break down the barriers placed in the way of equality; we form one strong human race.

Allies have an important voice; it’s by adding their voice to ours that we break down prejudice, injustice and closed-mindedness. It’s with their help that we succeed in protecting human dignity.

Injustices aren’t remedied by standing in the shadows, watching and doing nothing. Being a silent supporter will assist a select few people, but it won’t change things on a global scale. Allies need to be strong, visible and active to facilitate change.

For those out there who are already doing this: thank you very much.

Through education and activism, anyone is able to stand up and be heard as an ally. Do you have the courage to become an ally for change?

Chris Little-Gagné
Assistant Regional Vice-President, Manitoba region

The Canadian Labour Congress has a guide for allies [PDF] of the LGBT community. It’s a helpful tool for members who wish to educate themselves on how to become stronger advocates for equality.

SSO Bargaining Team Declares Impasse

“They informed us that they weren’t budging on their position,” said Réjean Amyotte, Assistant Regional Vice-President for Ontario and a member of the Statistical Survey Operations Regional Office Bargaining Team.

Last week, after the employer indicated that they would not move on some key demands, the bargaining team decided to declare an impasse and seek arbitration.

Amyotte says that the employer was not receptive to the bargaining team’s proposals regarding scheduling and wage parity with other federal public servants.

Based on the present collective agreement, the employer has complete latitude on scheduling hours of work. “There are times when people with more years of experience are working fewer hours in a month than people who were hired six months ago,” says Amyotte. The bargaining team is working to ensure that seniority is recognized when assigning work.

“For years, this bargaining team has wanted and attempted to reach parity with comparable workplaces,” says Amyotte. The union believes that interviewers should be paid at the CR3 level and senior interviewers at the CR5 level. The bargaining team also wants to ensure that Statistics Canada accurately records pensionable hours.

Despite having filed for arbitration, the bargaining team is still open to meet and negotiate should the employer decide to address our members’ concerns.

SSO Regional Office employees work for Statistics Canada in offices across the country. They collect vital information for national surveys, mostly through telephone interviews.

For more information on this round of bargaining, please consult this PSAC update. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the SSO Bargaining section of the PSAC website.

No more stolen sisters

Vigils were held across the nation, last Thursday, in memory of our stolen sisters. In more than 163 locations, Canadians gathered to remember the countless aboriginal women and girls who have been murdered or who are missing.

Girls like Maisy Odjick, 16, and Shannon Alexander, 17, who disappeared in 2008 from Maniwaki, Quebec. Young women like Terrie Ann Dauphinais, 24, who was murdered in her home outside Calgary in April 2002.

Those are just a few names; the Native Women’s Association of Canada has over 500 more confirmed cases. The numbers are astonishing and speak to the severe impact on aboriginal communities.

In Ottawa, victims’ families, activists and allies gathered on Parliament Hill to renew their demand for a national inquiry into this important issue.

Jennifer Lord of the Native Women’s Association of Canada says the vigils are about more than just shaming the government and demanding change; they’re about keeping the issue in our thoughts.

“We all have a role to play,” said Lord.

The Native Women’s Association of Canada is asking its allies to widely circulate their petition calling on the government to hold a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

“I plead with our union sisters and brothers to make a renewed commitment to push for a national inquiry,” said Viola Thomas, the Union of National Employees’ National Equity Representative for Aboriginal People.

Thomas called for our union members to bring the issue back to their communities and to their Locals.

“Historically, it’s that collective energy between all Canadians that can make a difference,” she added.

“If all our Locals aren’t standing beside our indigenous sisters and fighting this issue, we will be coming back here for the next 20 years demanding a national inquiry.”

The Native Women’s Association of Canada is counting on our collective action to get Parliament to act. “The families have been asking for it and Aboriginal leaders have listened. And thankfully, MPs are listening too,” said Lord, who added that the Native Women’s Association fully supports Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett’s bill for national inquiry.

Click here to download the petition. Get your families, friends and colleagues to sign it. Be sure to return it to the Native Women’s Association of Canada as soon as possible. To see pictures of last Thursday’s vigil, click here.

Highlands Links

Nestled in the amazing Cape Breton Highlands National Park is a golf course; a golf course we collectively own as Canadians… for now.

The Harper government wants to put the Highlands Links golf course in the hands of a corporation. The Union of National Employees and the PSAC are fighting with all their might to keep this from happening.

This golf course, under the care of Parks Canada, is an important treasure that we must protect. Over the years, Parks Canada, with the help of hard-working public service employees, has taken great care to maintain the ecological integrity of the Highlands Links.

The golf course has also provided decent wages for hard-working Canadians in the local community. Like most public golf courses, it has also provided affordable access a sport that is notoriously expensive.

This is important to rookies, for whom the cost of private golf courses would practically bar them from strengthening their game – from pursuing their dreams.

Finally, for working-class Canadian families, public golf courses like the Highlands Links provide an affordable option for their hard-earned leisure time.

For some, there are golf courses owned by Donald Trump and the like. For the rest of us, there are public golf courses. We think that’s important. We think that’s worth fighting for.

Please sign our petition to keep the Highlands Links public.

Honouring Our Heroes

Yesterday, hundreds gathered on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to honour police and peace officers across Canada. The Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Annual Memorial Service pays tribute to the men and women of law enforcement who are killed in the line of duty.

It’s also an opportunity to thank to those who work so hard to keep us safe.

Among these inspirational men and women are park wardens, who are responsible for law enforcement in our national parks. They also happen to be members of the Union of National Employees.

This year, nine wardens were chosen to represent their comrades in Ottawa.

“It’s really important to recognize the important work of our law enforcement community,” said National Executive Vice-President Eddie Kennedy. Continue reading “Honouring Our Heroes”

Facing Management Fact Sheet

The Union of National Employees has created a new fact sheet on facing management for union representatives.

Facing management can sometimes be intimidating – and our union representatives do it all the time! Our volunteers regularly meet face-to-face with management during consultation committees, negotiations and grievance hearings, among others.

Thus, it came as no surprise when a recent survey revealed a clear need for training on how to talk to management and how to be effective at union-management consultations.

“Facing management is often one of the main deterrents to many potential members becoming involved in union activity,” read one resolution calling for more training in this area.

As a union, we want all our members to feel empowered and confident when facing management. The fact sheet is a first step in doing that. In the future, we hope to be able to deliver more hands-on training on this important topic.

Click the link below to download the fact sheet (don’t forget to share it with members of your Local!)

html Facing Management – tips for members

This new document can be found in the Documents and Tools section of our website – an area of our website that is worth exploring. There are many more tools for union activists at all levels.

UNE Joins the National Day of Action

Last Saturday, union members across the country got together to have their message heard: we’re all affected by these cuts. Thousands of our members have had their jobs eliminated – with many more job cuts to come.

Doug Marshall, the national president of the Union of National Employees, attended the event in Ottawa, where he shared his thoughts on these massive cuts.

“The government says these are just back office jobs. Well first of all, the back office is very important. The people who have contact with Canadians, that’s where they get their support. We’re not only losing those support workers, but we are losing people who directly affect the lives of Canadians in a very immediate way,” said Marshall.

The UNE, Marshall said, is very concerned about the loss of a number of crucial jobs that could put members of the public at risk, including lifeguards at Tofino Beach in B.C., fire protection officers across the country, water inspectors who keep drinking water safe for First Nations people living on reserves – and those are just a few examples.

Events all across Canada

Meanwhile, in Winnipeg, PSAC members gathered at Memorial Park with PSAC President Robyn Benson. “The crowd was electrified by Robyn Benson’s speech,” said Chris Little-Gagné, the assistant vice-president of the UNE’s Manitoba region. “We had face-painting and juice for the kids – and the grownups wrote messages to Harper on a large banner.”

In an interview with Global Winnipeg, Benson touched on how these cuts are affecting morale in the public service.

“It is really disconcerting to be sitting at your desk day in and day out proudly serving Canadians and not knowing if tomorrow a [layoff] letter will show up on your desk,” said Benson.

A moment of solidarity

In Kitchener, Ontario, PSAC members rallied in Victoria Park. “In Kitchener, we have members from FedDev Ontario, Passport Canada and Parks Canada,” said Mary Anne Walker, assistant vice-president of the UNE’s Ontario region.

One affected member from Parks Canada gave an interview. Kathleen LeFaive told CTV Kitchener that she’s passionate about the work she does at Parks Canada.

“I didn’t work for money,” LeFaive told CTV. “I work in heritage because of the love history and the love of teaching.”

PSAC members in Kitchener were joined by public education teachers, who are standing up to the Ontario provincial government after the legislature passed a controversial anti-strike bill.

We have pictures of the rallies in Ottawa, Kitchener and Winnipeg. Got photos from your event? Send them to

Join us on September 15!

On Saturday, September 15, stand with us for public services.

It’s time to tell Harper that our work is important to Canadians. Public services are important to their health, to their safety, to their opportunities and to their well-being. We’re proud of the work we do, and we’re ready to stand up for quality public services!

Harper isn’t being honest with Canadians, so it’s time we tell our friends, families and neighbours what’s really going on.

We have to talk about how the Harper is taking risks with the lives of Canadians. When the prime minister cuts lifeguards, fire safety officers and water quality inspectors, he’s gambling with our lives.

We have to talk about the impact on local economies. When this government cuts the tourism season for our National Parks, they threaten the livelihood of the bed and breakfast, the souvenir shop and the corner diner.

Let’s talk about the impact of the cuts at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Our country’s aboriginal communities can’t afford to be neglected anymore by their government.

Let’s talk about how the cuts at Library and Archives and several national historic sites and museums are robbing us of our history – of our heritage. These are national treasures that make history come alive; they ought to be maintained for future generations.

There are countless other examples. On Saturday, September 15, I invite you to talk about how these cuts affect the work you do and how they affect all of us.

To find an event near you, please click here (this link will direct you to the PSAC website).

In solidarity,

Doug Marshall
National President
Union of National Employees

National Executive Meeting – September 2012

The National Executive will meet in Ottawa from September 11 to 13. The first session will start at 9:00 a.m. in the Union of National Employees boardroom.

If your Local wishes to place an item on the agenda, please contact your Regional Vice-President and provide him or her with clear and concise information. He or she will gladly bring your item before the executive.

About the National Executive:
The National Executive is responsible for the policies, programs and direction of the Union of National Employees. Between conventions, it makes important decisions and creates policies that help look after our union. The executive also carries out resolutions adopted by the members during the last convention. Its members meets three times per year to review the union’s activities and ensure that they reflect the will of the membership.

If you would like an issue to be brought up during the next meeting, please contact your Regional Vice-President.

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People

August 9 is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. The United Nations created this day 18 years ago “to strengthen international cooperation for solving problems faced by indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, development, education and health.”

In honour of the 18th anniversary of day, Survival International, a non-profit organization working for tribal peoples’ rights worldwide, has created the following photographic gallery featuring 18 images of tribal and indigenous communities and their land.

Survival International is perhaps best known for their work to protect the lands of uncontacted tribes. Oil industries and illegal logging are encroaching on their land. They also pose a serious threat to these tribes; contact with outsiders could expose them to infectious diseases and wipe them out. To survive, uncontacted tribes must be left alone and their lands ought to be protected.

We encourage you to visit Survival International’s website to find out more and to get involved. You can start by sending a letter asking Brazil’s Minister of Justice to stop the loggers who are invading the uncontacted Awá’s land.