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Confederation of Canadian Unions Affiliate Report – February 2023

Friday, February 17th, 2023

AESES thanks the Confederation of Canadian Unions for inviting us to Ottawa, Ontario, the unceded, unsurrendered Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation whose culture and presence have nurtured this land for millennia. AESES members live and work on Treaty 1 Territory and Manitoba is located on the Treaty Territories and ancestral lands of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, and Nehethowuk Nations and on the Homeland of the Red River Métis. We acknowledge northern Manitoba includes lands that were and are the ancestral lands of the Inuit.

We respect the spirit and intent of Treaties and Treaty Making and remain committed to working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in the spirit of truth, reconciliation and collaboration. The AESES Executive Council, represented by Chris McCann and myself, joined over one hundred university, community and Indigenous leaders to participate in the University of Manitoba’s (UM) Reconciliation Action Planning sessions in November. Collectively, we were asked to look at the colonial foundations and history of the University of Manitoba and to explore recommendations for fundamental changes to the structure of the organization, to acknowledge our history. and propose changes to move the institution into the future towards a goal of Mino-Pimatisiwin, or living the good life in a healthy balance with our land.

On Sunday, December 4th we held the Children’s Christmas party, the first in over two years! Over 400 parents and children were in attendance, despite a winter storm that kept some families away. Those in attendance enjoyed cookie decorating, clown entertainment, face painting, balloon animals and presents for the children. We had special guest appearances by Spiderman, kids’ entertainer Al Simmons and Santa Claus.

We kicked off the holiday season with an Open House in our new office building and union hall on December 9, which also marked the day of the very first gathering of six employees at a “study session” 50 years ago to discuss organizing a union. That group later filed their application to form a union on January 24th, 1973. This event was the first of many AESES has planned throughout our Golden Jubilee to recognize our 50th Anniversary. We plan to host several events with our membership and charitable fundraising activities including a big social party in June to which everyone from CCU is invited!

Chris McCann, VP UM-Bannatyne Melissa Blonjeaux and I met with UM President Michael Bennaroch and outgoing AVP-HR Darlene Smith on December 13 where among other items we discussed remote work for the future. We pointed out that while many members have the option of working two days per week at home that this is not uniformly applied to all members. The ability to work from home correlates to being in a higher paying position resulting in our lowest paid members often having less or no access to being able to work from home, and are therefore more likely to incur the increased costs of working on campus.

The AESES Executive Council has been asked to participate in UM’s five-year strategic planning process. This is the first time AESES has been directly invited. We will continue with regular high-level meetings between AESES and President Bennaroch roughly every six months like we have arranged with The University of Winnipeg (UW) President, Todd Mondor.

We were deeply saddened to report the passing of Paul Hazelton on December 25, 2022. Paul was at the original meeting to organize the union which became AESES over 50 years ago. He joined the Board as soon as we formed in May of 1973 and served on the Board continuously for the next 41 years until his retirement. Paul came to Canada in 1971 from Missouri and as a man of principle kept with him his “Handbook for Conscientious Objectors.” He earned a Ph.D. in Virology from UM in 1998. Paul played a part in managing the AESES 51-day strike in 1975, along with many other important roles including serving as President between 1975 – 1978. Paul was truly a distinguished member of AESES and served our union for over 50 years. Paul will be greatly missed.

On January 16, the AESES office welcomed Leanne Shumka as the new Member Services Officer. Leanne brings with her many years of knowledge and experience working with the union as a Board Representative, as Vice-President UW on the Executive Council and other committees throughout the years. This new role will join our Labour Relations Team of Lorne Hilton and Colleen Thompson and will help with the increased issues and questions that are being experienced by members over the past two and a half years of this pandemic.

Laurie Morris, Past President of AESES, after 41 years at the UM is retiring this year and her last day in office was January 30. The Department of Philosophy held a retirement party on February 3rd where many friends and colleagues gathered to thank her for her dedicated service and wish her well for the future. Laurie’s last official day will be in April and she will remain on the AESES Board until then and will definitely be at the social in June!

Team AESES will be a part of the Coldest Night of the Year on February 25, raising funds for St. Boniface Street Links which works to end homelessness, reduce poverty and support crime prevention through social programs. You can support our walk by visiting or registering your own team at to walk and support programs in your community.

In Solidarity,

Gloria Saindon
Executive Vice-President, AESES

Confederation of Canadian Unions Affiliate Report – October 2022

Tuesday, October 18th, 2022

AESES President Chris McCann and Vice President (The University of Winnipeg) Meagan Michaluk

AESES thanks the Confederation of Canadian Unions for inviting us to Vancouver, British Columbia, the unceded and ancestral territory of the Musqueam), Squamish), and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.  

AESES members live and work on Treaty 1 Territory and Manitoba is located on the Treaty Territories and ancestral lands of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples, and on the National Homeland of the Red River Métis. We acknowledge northern Manitoba includes lands that were and are the ancestral lands of the Inuit. 

We respect the spirit and intent of Treaties and Treaty Making and remain committed to working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in the spirit of truth, reconciliation and collaboration. 

Acknowledging this truth is important, yet only a small part of cultivating strong relationships with Indigenous communities.

People in Manitoba recently were made very aware of the consequences of those harms and mistakes of the past as the tragic events at James Smith Cree Nation unfolded.  Over the four days where the suspects remained at large, everyone in the prairies received multiple emergency alert messages per day in case the suspects had fled to the neighbouring provinces.

This tragic event that occurred last month is an example of the harms and mistakes of the past.  The Chief of James Smith Cree Nation has called for funding for on reserve addictions treatment centres.  If we want to remain true to the words of our Land Acknowledgement statements we need to ensure we hear community leaders when they say need help with the harms caused by drug and alcohol addiction.  When they tell us of potential solutions we need to support and amplify their message.  We need to make sure everyone sees the connections from the harms of the past and the tragedies of today.   

 At The University of Winnipeg AESES Members have ratified a new contract with 88% of members voting in favour of acceptance.  This contract included important financial gains that attempt to recognize the impact of inflation has had and importantly is structured in ways that includes increases that are specifically precluded by the Conservative Governments Public Service Sustainability Act.  This shows that laws forcing “austerity” can be overcome with continued pressure and persistence.  Let us make sure the lesson learned here is not that governments can force austerity but that when we challenge it, we can win. 

Both Universities, even with the return to full, in person classes, are going forward with Flexible Work and Remote Work programs.  Our members value the expansion of this way of working and AESES continues to monitor and advocate for our members that these policies are available fairly to all members. 

This past Labour Day AESES President Chris McCann and Vice President (University of Winnipeg) Meagan Michaluk represented both AESES and the CCU at the Labour Day Parade.  Hundreds of people representing many unions marched from our Legislature through  Winnipeg’s downtown streets to a family picnic held in Vimy Ridge Memorial Park. 

On September 25th, AESES was able to host our Volunteer Appreciation Brunch after a 3 year delay.  We recognized members for their dedicated service to our union and presented pins for 5, 10 and 15 years of union service. We had the sad duty of recognizing the passing of long time board and executive member Keith Travis earlier this year and in 2020 AESES lost Past-President Wayne Pucci.  He became active within our union shortly after AESES only strike in 1975 and served as President for 20 years until 1999.  Both Wayne and Keith will be missed. 

AESES will be celebrating 2023 with the 50th Anniversary of our initial certification as a bargaining unit. We have started preparing activities to recognize this milestone. On December 9 we will kick off the celebrations with a Holiday Open House at the Union Office. This date marks exactly 50 years from when workers organized “study sessions” and talks began about forming our union. We have several activities planned including a famous “Manitoba Social” on Saturday June 10th, 2023.  We hope to see you there. 

AESES wishes all our sisters and brothers at CCU Affiliates a fantastic fall and reminds you to take time for yourself. This pandemic still has its challenges and is  still very present in our lives. We all deserve a chance to disconnect from work and enjoy time with our families and friends. 

In Solidarity, 

Gloria Saindon 
Executive Vice-President, AESES 

AESES featured in the Fall 2021 edition of CCU Connections

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

CCU-Connections-Fall-2021-WebsiteThe Fall 2021 edition of CCU Connections is available to view.  AESES members are featured with an article about the landfall victory over temporary layoffs from the University of Manitoba.

Read more here:

Confederation of Canadian Unions Affiliate Report – June 2022

Saturday, July 22nd, 2000

AESES thanks the Confederation of Canadian Unions for inviting us to Laval, Quebec, the traditional unceded territory of the Huron-Wendat people. AESES members live and work on Treaty One Lands, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

AESES has experienced a significant change since the last meeting of the CCU. Laurie Morris has stepped down after eight years of serving as President. Laurie did great things in her four terms, not the least of which was reaching out to the CCU and bringing us in as an affiliate. Interestingly, this was not the first time AESES considered membership in the CCU. Joining the CCU was one option put to a vote by our members as part of a strategy to fend off a raid by CUPE in 1977. We would like to again acknowledge and thank Laurie for her service. While she is beginning the transition to a new lifestyle involving a lot more fun travel for her and Ron, we know she will stay involved with the union movement that she has been instrumental in advancing over the years. AESES has elected to new executive roles Chris McCann as President and Gloria Saindon as Executive Vice President (University of Manitoba – Fort Garry). Continuing in their roles are Melissa Blonjeaux, Vice-President (University of Manitoba – Bannatyne); Meaghan Michaluk, Vice-President (The University of Winnipeg); Will Christie, Treasurer; and Joan Duesterdiek, Contract Administrator (UW). New to our Executive Board are previous CCU delegates, Karen Simpson as Secretary and Rob Parker taking over as Contract Administrator (UM).

AESES is pleased to report that we have been able to agree on a new contract with the University of Manitoba after more than three years. The contract covers seven years and includes general salary increases of 6.5% over the life of the contract. It also consists of expansion to the last four steps of each job classification, with over a third of our members seeing immediate increases of up to 9.5%. All members can receive these increases as they gain seniority. We also negotiated accelerations in vacation accrual for junior members and new language to allow the union to attend investigative meetings to defend members before discipline is applied. Several of these benefits would not have been allowed under the Conservative Government’s Public Services Sustainability Act. Although we were able to make achievements beyond the limitations imposed by the unproclaimed act with time and persistence, we are still seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. It is important that the courts have the chance to rule that governments cannot abridge our Charter Rights to free and fair collective bargaining to prevent future governments’ misuse of the law.

This agreement was accepted by 78% of our membership. Some members against this contract expressed frustration at the offer and were very vocal, correctly feeling disrespected by our Provincial Conservatives and their interference. AESES has targeted several more disruptive members for recruitment to positions within our union. The sh*t disturbers make great unionists.

Negotiations with The University of Winnipeg are still ongoing, but we have made progress with offers and counteroffers being exchanged. We are using the U of M contract as leverage. However, the funding models and realities of the two Universities are very different. We are optimistic we will be able to take an offer to our membership soon.

As reported at the last CCU Executive Board meeting, AESES grieved the cessation of rapid testing at the University of Manitoba for employees unable or unwilling to take a COVID vaccine. We have successfully settled that grievance with the employer with those few members able to return to work and made whole, or nearly so, for time missed from work.

AESES continues to work with both Universities with an anticipated return to full in-person instruction this September. There will be many challenges with managing the return safely and the many members who have become comfortable with the work-life balance afforded by working from home. As we move forward with this next phase of the pandemic, it will be necessary for affiliates of the CCU to share knowledge and experience to organize safe and beneficial outcomes for all our members.

Inclusive Pride FlagJune is Pride Month, and AESES members participated with their universities by walking in the Winnipeg Pride Parade on Sunday, June 6th, where they proudly carried the CCU Pride Flag.  Ceremonies were held to raise the Progress Flag at both The Universities of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba.  The University of Manitoba has committed to the Pride Flag being permanently flown over the campus. The Progress flag incorporates new chevrons symbolizing intersex, trans and marginalized people of colour. The arrow pointing to the right shows forward movement and illustrates that progress towards inclusivity still needs to be made. As symbolized with this flag, much of the “progress” is due to the allyship between the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Two-Spirit (LBTQ2S+) communities and unions. The CCU called for Canada’s Federal and Provincial governments to include sexual orientation as prohibited grounds for discrimination in their Human Rights Acts in a 1987 resolution and has repeatedly advocated against discrimination against sexual orientation. The only protection the LGBTQ2+ community had in the workplace was their union card in many places. With trans people currently being attacked in neighbouring jurisdictions, progress has to continue in all areas. We should also, as unions, look to the successes of the LGBTQ2S+ communities and learn the lessons from their achievements.

AESES expresses our support for the CCU elevating the issue of mental health care at this June Executive Board meeting. Recently, the University of Manitoba’s results from participating in the Canadian Campus Wellbeing Survey have shown an increase in students self-reporting feelings of moderate or severe mental distress, an increase in contemplation or making a plan to seriously attempt suicide and a decrease in knowledge of how to access mental health resources. These findings align with the overall Canadian averages. The CCU and affiliates must strongly advocate for a universal, accessible, and affordable mental health care system for all Canadians.

AESES is excited to announce that 2023 will mark the 50th Anniversary of our initial certification as a bargaining unit. We have started preparing activities to recognize this milestone. If the CCU plans to hold a board meeting in Winnipeg next year, we will look to arrange our planned ‘Manitoba Social’ to coincide with that meeting.

I wish everyone a great and rejuvenating summer. The pandemic challenges are still very present in our lives, and we all deserve a chance to disconnect from work and enjoy time with our families and friends.

In Solidarity,

Chris signature

Did you know

AESES is affiliated with the Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU).

AESES' Charter Meeting was held in December of 1972.

We offer scholarships for AESES dependants at both universities.

Anyone can attend a Board meeting by calling the AESES Business Office prior to the meeting and confirming their attendance.

AESES requires new volunteers for various committees. Please contact the Business Office if you are an AESES member interested in joining one of our committees.