REPORT OF VICE-PRESIDENT STEVE HINDLE
Presented to the 99th Annual General Meeting
I continue to be involved in many areas of the Institute but this report will concentrate on only three of those. My general philosophy is that I’m in this position to assist the President and I take my direction from her. While I provide her with advice from the perspective of my several decades of experience in the Institute and the federal public service she provides me with general guidance as well as specific tasks.
I continue to be the political lead for issues related to the Institute members who work for the Province of New Brunswick (the Board of Management) and the New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission. As I mentioned in last year’s report, several legal actions challenging the provincial government’s authority to make drastic, unilateral, and detrimental changes to the pension plan for our provincial members continue to wind their way through the legal system. Our expectation was for a long legal process and it has been slow going.
On a related front, this report is being written during the New Brunswick provincial election. We posed three questions to the four most prominent parties and, as of Monday, September 17, we had received only one answer, that from the Green Party. As of this writing, efforts are still underway to obtain responses from the other three parties, the Liberals, the Progressive Conservatives, and the NDP. In a bit of a surprise turn of events the polls have been showing the People’s Alliance Party of New Brunswick with stronger support than both the Greens and the NDP. Election Day will determine whether or not those numbers result in any seats in the legislature.
This year saw a favourable ruling by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Board giving the right to belong to a union to employees at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). This was in addition to the Supreme Court decision to give that right to the uniformed members of the RCMP. The result was an effort to sign up the more than thirteen hundred (1300) new members of the Institute. In addition to integrating these new members into our union, mostly in the Computer Systems (CS) and the Applied Science and Patent Examination (SP) Groups we have been fully engaged in negotiating their transition into the public service and the already existing bargaining units. With terms and conditions of employment that don’t exactly match those of existing employees this will be a delicate set of negotiations as we insist on no loss of benefits. In addition, we are making efforts at welcoming these new members. For many of them this is there first experience with belonging to a union and having an opportunity, through their union, to influence their working conditions in a significant way.
Issues in this area continue to absorb a considerable amount of my time and energy. The President has asked me to continue to fill the role of chairing the meetings of the Board of Directors. This entails a considerable amount of preparation leading up to the meetings themselves.
Activities such as contributing to preparations for the Annual General Meeting (AGM) provide a wonderful opportunity to work with a diverse group of people from many parts of the organization. Unfortunately, this area of my involvement also includes dealing with conflict amongst members. Inter-personal conflict amongst very active members is still far too common. The Institute has, on more than one occasion, enlisted the services of a mediator in order to work with members in an attempt to regularize relationships so that the business of the Institute could continue. This has resulted in only limited success and, as a result, there is more and more activity through the more formal channels of our Dispute Resolution and Discipline Policy. While I believe that we have taken positive strides towards improvement there is still much to be done in this area.
Steve Hindle, Vice-President