New Alberta Agriculture Minister traces his activist roots to involvement in our union

Once, he was ‘Brother Carlier’. Now, he’s ‘Mister Minister’! Oneil Carlier has just been appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development by Premier Rachel Notley as part of the ‘Orange Chinook’ that swept the NDP to an unexpected majority government in Alberta’s May 5 election. Carlier has a unique connection to both his farm constituents and the labour movement. While coming from a farming family who raised cattle and grew crops for several generations, he worked for 20 years as a geotechnical technician with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Throughout those two decades, Carlier honed his activist skills through his work for the Agriculture Union. In 2002, he was hired as a regional representative with our bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, in Alberta. Carlier is one of only 12 Ministers in a perfectly gender-balanced Cabinet that is the smallest in Alberta history. We wish ‘Mr. Minister’ great success in his new portfolio. ‘Brother Carlier’ is a fine example of the labour movement’s credo: What we have for ourselves, we desire for all!...

Summerland members among those protesting Conservatives’ latest attack on free collective bargaining

Agriculture Union members are joining PSAC members across the country in protesting Bill C-59, the Budget Implementation Act. The proposed law, introduced in the House of Commons in mid-May, is the latest attack on free collective bargaining by a vindictive Harper government. It would permit the employer to unilaterally modify collective agreements to remove sick leave and impose a short- and long-term disability plan outside of collective agreements. The Conservatives’ legislative hammer would ignore both current collective bargaining and existing public service labour laws. Our bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, had temporarily suspended contract talks while considering its options. The photo below shows our members at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland, B.C. who answered the call by the PSAC to protest Bill C-59. During the May 19 event, the participants also signed a banner in support of their negotiating team members. Local 20043 president Darrell-Lee McKenzie and her members were joined by Bob Jackson, an Agriculture Union member and PSAC Regional Vice-President for British Columbia.  ...

Agriculture Union delegates to PSAC Convention strongly back political action campaign

The last week in April drew hundreds of delegates to the Triennial National Convention of our bargaining agent, the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Those attending the important event, held in Quebec City, were determined to forge a strategy to oppose ongoing Conservative government cuts to public service jobs and services. Next October’s federal election provided added focus for action. That action came in the shape of an emergency resolution adopted unanimously with great enthusiasm. Agriculture Union delegates were front-and-centre in voicing their strong support for the PSAC’s call to go on the offensive against escalating attacks on our membership by the Harper government. The resolution directs PSAC to spend up to $5-million from its surplus to conduct a strategic campaign to: oppose government actions that will compromise any of our members’ rights; continue organizing and mobilizing our members through concerted and strategic actions with other unions to defend our bargaining rights; take the necessary legal action to defend our constitutional right to free collective bargaining; and work to elect a federal government that respects worker and union rights and federal public services, and that governs for the benefit of all Canadian workers. The emergency resolution was one of a record number of resolutions dealt with by a hard-working Convention united in its determination to defend workers’ rights, public services and human rights. All this was managed in the context of a balanced budget that will see an increase in PSAC dues. Robyn Benson, who was elected to her second three-year term as PSAC National President, urged members to take the energy generated at the Convention and channel it...

Two of our veteran Quebec leaders awarded Agriculture Union Life Memberships

The work of two veteran members from Quebec has been recognized by the National Council with Life Memberships in the Agriculture Union. It’s a relatively rare but well-deserved honour. The prestigious award pays tribute to those women and men whose selfless dedication to the well-being of their union ‘brothers and sisters’ have earned them a special place in the history and progress of our union. The maximum number of Life Memberships is set by the National Council, which reviews nominations for this exclusive group. The two latest long-serving members to receive Life Memberships are indeed worthy of the tribute. Raphaël Tarasco retired from Montreal’s Local 10012 after three decades of working for Agriculture Union members. From first serving as a Local steward in 1983, Raphaël became ever-more-deeply involved: from Local Health and Safety Chair to Local Vice-President and President and ultimately Regional Vice-President for Western Quebec. He capped his union career as our Third National Executive Vice-President from 2011 to 2014. Denis Sicard, who has also retired from Local 10012, devoted almost a quarter-century of his life to defending the rights of Agriculture Union members. His labour career in many respects paralleled that of Raphaël. Denis first became a Local Union officer in 1988, and by 1994 had been elected as Vice-President, a post he was to hold for three years. In 1996, he was chosen by our Western Quebec members to serve as their Regional Vice-President on the National Council. In 2002, Denis held successive three-year terms as Fourth, Third and finally Second National Executive Vice-President. Well-deserved congratulations on this special recognition to both Raphaël and Denis! You...