Friday, May 13, 2011

Special ballot return process required due to possible mail disruption.

Canada Post and their union (CUPW) have been in contract negotiations that have moved into the conciliation stage. Things aren't going well, and they will be in a legal strike / lock out position on May 25th.

Our problem is that Local 37 is getting ready to start balloting to elect delegates to the IBEW International Convention, which is held every five years. IBEW rules specify that we need to conduct a mail-in ballot for these delegates and the potential strike falls right in the middle of the time period when ballots will be sent out and returned. In order to avoid a potential disruption, we’ve been directed by IBEW International to find an alternative method to conduct balloting that is consistent with the normal mail-in ballot process.

The plan we’re going to implement is that ballots, return envelopes, etc., will be mailed to all Local 37 members at their home address at least a week before the potential strike date.

Our members can then select their choice for convention delegate; seal their ballot in the secret ballot envelope, and then place that in the return envelope. (The double-envelope system allows us to verify that members only vote once, while ensuring the secrecy of their choices.)

In order to return the ballots, we’ve made arrangements so that our members with access to NB Power internal mail can return their ballots using that system. For all other members, we are going to include a pre-addressed Purolator Courier envelope that they can use to return their ballot.

On June 25th, which is the counting day, the election judge will retrieve the ballots from the mailroom and from Purolator and they will be processed and counted.

By following this process, we can ensure that out delegate election will be completed in a proper manner, despite the possibility of a mail interruption.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Local 37 office tool free at 1-877-437-0037 or e-mail us at

Please vote and return your ballot – it’s one of your most important democratic rights, and it only takes a few minutes!

Monday, June 28, 2010

NB Power's restructuring of Transmission, Distribution and Customer Service.

On June 8, NB Power started telling workers about a restructuring within Transmission and Distribution and Customer Service ("T and D"). Since then, some members have asked if the reorganisation within "T and D" violates or changes our Collective Agreements and whether or not NB Power needs the Union’s permission to make these changes.

The answer is that NB Power has the right to reorganise and restructure their business – they don’t need the Union’s approval. They are also allowed to reassign staff, which is why we have negotiated wage protection provisions in our collective agreements. Many of you probably remember previous reorganisations.

In addition, the reorganisation does not violate or change the existing Collective Agreements. Members who were assigned to Transmission before will continue to operate under the Transmission Agreement, even if they are now reporting to a Customer Service region.

Likewise, the proposed combining of the operating companies and the proposal to take NB Power back to a single company will have no impact on the current Collective Agreements (including seniority rules) that are in place. If the proposal to recombine NB Power goes forward, it will not be much different than pre-2004. At that time NB Power was one company, with four different Collective Agreements, just as it is today.

When changes like this occur, it can create a lot of confusion and uncertainty. There are many questions about the future structure of NB Power. Some of those questions we have answers for and there others that we don’t at this time. As this continues to evolve, we’ll all get a better picture of the impacts of the changes as well as any steps we may need to take to deal with emerging issues.

Although times of change can be frustrating, I do believe that by working together we can successfully deal with any issues that arise.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Thank you for your support!

I want to express my sincere appreciation to all members of Local 37 for your continued support. I am deeply humbled to have a second opportunity to represent you as your Business Manager. You have given me another very strong mandate. Thank you. I know that we can work together to build an even better, stronger union.

I would also like to extend my congratulations to all other candidates who stood for election to Local 37’s Executive Board. People who are willing to step up and take a leadership role are doing it because they truly want to help others – they care about their fellow workers, our workplaces and our communities, and they want to help us move forward. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for making such a commitment to the members of this union.

I also want to thank the staff of Local 37 who work so hard for our members every day - Gary Munn, Claude Richard, Mary Williamson, Annette Perry and Leslie MacNeill. I especially want to recognize the extra effort that Annette and Leslie put into preparing, distributing and the counting of ballots under the supervison of election judge Bob Tucker. As well, I want to say thank you to Election Tellers Lucy Vautour and Delbert Cogswell. Their time and commitment were greatly appreciated.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to thank my wife Krista and my two children, James and John. The job of Business Manager takes me away from them on a frequent basis, and I’m grateful for having such a caring, understanding family.

Once again, thank you for your overwhelming vote of confidence, trust and continued support. Working together, we have accomplished a great deal. In the future, we will accomplish even more.


Ross Galbraith

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Diversity and Inclusion

During the 2006 IBEW International Convention, delegates passed a resolution supporting diversity and full inclusion. This resolution recognizes that the IBEW, and our workplaces, are made up of people from many different groups - people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, different languages, different genders, different age groups, people working in non-traditional roles, etc. This diversity will make our union stronger and more vibrant, but only if we ensure that all member's values, beliefs, thoughts, experience and knowledge are understood and valued.

As a result of that resolution, the IBEW International has developed and implemented measures to support diversity and full inclusion (which means that all members, no matter what their background, are able to participate in the union, without any barriers).

One of the things the International has developed is a two-day training program that helps educate local union leaders about the issues related to diversity and inclusion. I'm currently on that course, along with two other delegates from Local 37, and we're learning a lot of valuable information, and getting some great ideas, about things we can do to ensure that our Local is a welcoming and inclusive organisation.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Changes to the Government's plans for NB Power

I want to follow up with you on the latest developments with the Government’s plans concerning NB Power. I also want to be very clear that our position is unchanged and that my preference, and the preference of Local 37, is to have NB Power remain as it has always been - a single New Brunswick Crown Corporation, operated for the benefit of the people of this province.

I also want you to know that we have done many things to fight the sale and we’re continuing to work hard on that front.

Saying that, it is my responsibility and my job to make sure that no matter what happens, Local 37 members are protected. It would be irresponsible of me if I ignored the possibility that some portion of NB Power may be sold.

That means that if there is even a slim possibility that any form of a sale may occur, I need to make sure I am dealing with NB Power, the Government, and with Hydro Quebec to make certain our issues and concerns are properly looked after. It’s essential that I remain at the table, fighting for all of you. If I’m not, decisions will get made without us and it will be too late.

This approach has already ensured that if a deal does go through, Local 37 member’s jobs, bargaining rights, collective agreements, retirement allowances and pensions are protected.

Yet, I know it’s not over. In fact, the details of the latest proposal mean that there are even more things that need to be dealt with and I remain committed to fighting for our members. This means covering all of the bases, seizing the right opportunities to both listen and be heard and most importantly keeping all of you engaged and informed.

I truly appreciate the feedback that we've been receiving from members and I hope that it continues. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please know that you can call, email, or drop by the Union office anytime.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Getting back on track

As all of you will recognize, the proposed sale of NB Power has meant that Local 37 has had to mobilize a tremendous level of effort and resources in order to ensure our member's interests are protected, no matter what happens. I'd particularly like to recognize the special effort put forth by many of our members and also by my staff at the union office -in difficult times there are always those who rise to the occasion, and I am humbled by the work we are doing together, as a union.

There are a number of things about the proposed sale that I find upsetting, but one thing that may not be apparent, but which is really bothering me, is that it has forced me to slow down on some of the progressive things that I have planned for Local 37, things that will help us continue to progress and move our union forward.

It's time to get moving again.

A Local 37 newsletter was one of things our members told us they wanted, and I'm really proud to let you know it's now at the printers. That means that within the next few weeks, all of our members will receive the very first edition of our new Local 37 newsletter, mailed directly to their homes.

This first quarterly edition has a lot of content focused on the current happenings, but I want you to know that we already have improvements in store for the second edition, including french language content and also some stories about our non-NB Power members and their workplaces. We also want your feedback and I'm looking forward to your suggestions and ideas.

Another item that was delayed, but which I'm now going to get back on track is the Senior Steward's program. I announced the program back in the fall, and we have received a number of applications from some very deserving Stewards.

It is important to me to launch this new program properly, and with the extreme level of extra work that came about because of the proposed sale, I put it on hold so I could make sure it would be done right. Although things remain very hectic, we've got things in hand and it's time to get this going again.

I've got a number of other exciting things planned, but I'll save them for a future blog entry.