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November 09, 2012
  • Final farewell for Errol Black. Keith Borkowsky, The Brandon Sun

    Caldwell

    Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell speaks during a memorial service for Errol Black at the WMCA on Thursday afternoon. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)

    Selinger

    Premier Greg Selinger speaks during a memorial service for Errol Black at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium on Thursday. Black died on Saturday at the age of 73 after a lengthy battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)

    Black

    Thomas Black speaks during a memorial service for his father at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium on Thursday. Errol Black, the former city councillor, Brandon University professor and lifelong Brandon booster, died over the weekend. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)

    Evans

    Former Brandon East NDP MLA and fellow economics professor Len Evans speaks during a memorial service to Errol Black at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium on Thursday. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)

    While Brandonites and Manitobans from all walks of life celebrated the life of former Brandon city councillor Errol Black Thursday, nothing could better describe how much Black meant to them than the actions of his son Thomas.

    At the end of the service, with the John Lennon song "Imagine" playing over the sound system, Thomas Black was handed the urn containing his father’s ashes on the stage at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium. He grasped it with both hands solemnly, as though to hug the patriarch of the family one last time.

    Black, who died on Saturday after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease at the age of 73, was remembered by longtime friends, trade unionists, New Democrats and his beloved East Enders for his contributions to the city and province.

    With his voice breaking often from emotion, Premier Greg Selinger shared with the approximately 600 people who attended the service that Black played a significant role in creating positive changes to public policy and fighting for what he believed in.

    "I thought he always had a unique character of being able to be outside the situation pushing you while at the same time being inside and trying to make it better," Selinger said, with voice shaking. "He called to our better angels. He acted as a role model on how to get things done."

    In what Selinger called a "classic Errol Black" moment during his time as Riverview ward councillor, the Premier recalled how Black had pushed to have players from the Brandon Greys senior men’s baseball teams from the 1940s and 1950s recognized. Not were these teams Black watched as a youth, but many of the players had been part of the Negro Leagues and the Greys even had a Cuban player. As he kept in touch with the players, he brought them to an August 2005 city council meeting so they would get the recognition he believed they deserved. However, in one of the many times then mayor Dave Burgess ruled a Black motion out of order, it led to this exchange.

    "The Mayor ruled the request out of order and this of course led to a classic moment where Errol challenged the chair and in a moment probably surprising even Errol, winning the challenge and getting to introduce the players to city council and getting city council to note in the minutes the players were recognized, given pins and introduced to the community," Selinger said. "It was a good example of Errol challenging authority and at the same time being engaged in the governing process."

    Selinger later noted that Black had not only helped to get the Brandon Greys team inducted into the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame.

    "Not being satisfied accomplishing that much on a point of privilege, he moved that the (city) council contribute $1,000 to bring them all to Morden for the induction ceremony and got the money out of city council," Selinger said.

    "And any of you on city council know that’s no easy accomplishment either. I’m not sure what the Brandon Sun had to say about that, but I have a feeling I’ll hear about it right after this."

    While Black is remembered as one of Manitoba’s best-ever trade unionists, and several top members of the province’s union movement were in attendance,

    Black’s children fondly remember their dad and the family time he shared with them. After his diagnosis with ALS, Black made a trip east to visit family and they went to Niagara Falls this past summer.

    "We went to the butterfly museum, which him being the nature guy, he really appreciated," Thomas Black said. "And if you have been to Niagara Falls, you are familiar with the Maid of the Mist, a boat ride, so we decided let’s do that. It wasn’t really good weather and if you have been on the (boat) there are only two possibilities. One, you get soaked, or the other is you go and hide, look at the falls and stay out of the water. Well of course my father grabbed my mother and brings her out on to the deck and proceeds to get completely soaked. I’m thinking he’s insane, but he’s having a blast nonetheless. That really was my father. It sums him up. He’s embraced life under whatever circumstance there may be, took on challenges, constantly pushed the envelope at every opportunity and had a lot of fun doing that."

    Black’s longtime friend, Wayne Fines, said his pal was "100 per cent East End."

    "Hard-working, blue collar, honest," Fines said of his friend, who had the nickname Blackie.

    Fines said there were several instances where Black attempted to get his friends out of sticky situations where neighbourhood rivalries were factors and would back them whatever the cost. At one teen dance when a neighbourhood rival entered the hall and spoke ill of the neighbourhood, Black defended it.

    "In flies in our fearless leader, Blackie," Fines said. "Bang. Boom. Thump. Ouch. And it’s over. It’s not good, Pummeled. Blackie got pummeled. I’m proud to say it wasn’t the last time he got pummelled. But whatever the odds were against him, he never backed down if the cause was right."

    In one instance, that also meant jumping on to a slow moving passenger train with Fines to avoid a sticky situation, where they were approached by the train’s conductor.

    "Where did you boys get on (the train)?" the conductor asked the duo.

    "Regina, good sir," Black confidently replied.

    "We have not been to Regina," the conductor said, leaving the two to scram from the train to head back home.

    Other speakers included members from the trade union movement and left-wing political colleagues such as Jim Silver and Brandon and District Labour Council president Jan Chaboyer, former Brandon East NDP MLA Len Evans, and family members Dennis Black and Kyla Shoemaker.

    Black is survived by his wife Margaret, sons Sean, Dennis and Thomas, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

    » [email protected]

    THE MEMORIAL

    Statements were read from dignitaries unable to attend the Errol Black memorial service in person, such as former governor general Edward Schreyer, former Manitoba premiers Howard Pawley and Canadian Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer.

    The service was well attended by Black’s political contemporaries such as former mayor Reg Atkinson and former city councillors Arnold Grambo, Don Jessiman and Doug Paterson. Current NDP MLAs also attending included Premier Greg Selinger, Drew Caldwell (Brandon East), Speaker Daryl Reid (Transcona), Rob Altemeyer (Wolseley), James Allum (Fort Garry-Riverview), Labour Minister Jennifer Howard (Fort Rouge). Brandon West Progressive Conservative MLA Reg Helwer and Winnipeg Centre NDP MP Pat Martin were also in attendance.

    Brandon’s current city council contingent at the service included Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine), Coun. Corey Roberts (Rosser), Coun. Murray Blight (Victoria), Coun. Jeff Harwood (University), Coun. Jim McCrae (Meadows), Coun. Garth Rice (South Centre), Coun. Len Isleifson (Riverview) and Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres). Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond) and Coun. Shawn Berry (Linden Lanes) did not attend due to work commitments.

    Many others from the Brandon University community, where Black was an economics professor for three decades, and the labour movement were in attendance.

    words of tribute

    "There is a theme that runs through everything Errol did. He had a belief in people. He had a belief in community and the power of us all acting together for the collective good."
    — Jim Silver, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

    "He remained (at Brandon University) for 30 years, over which he became an outstanding economics professor. But he also became a social activist dedicated to helping others and he was always on the side of the underdog."
    — Former Brandon East NDP MLA Len Evans.

    "Errol and I may both have thought when I rejoined city council in 2006 that there would be lots of opportunities for a donnybrook, but it didn’t happen. … I think if the cause was his, he didn’t care who he worked with as long as he could advance it forward. I felt I was getting respect from him and I hope he felt he was getting mine."
    — Coun. Jim McCrae (Meadows)

    "He’s done a lot of really good things. You talk about the social justice issues, but we also talk about environmental issues and … a lot of the legacy Errol left behind, we are still working with. I learned from him you never give up."
    — Coun. Len Isleifson (Riverview)

    "He was extremely skilled at presenting material to the general public in a manner they could understand."
    —Brandon University professor and Brandon University Faculty Association member Bill Paton

    "(I learned) to be constant in your principles, integrity, to have firm convictions and to always stay true to your principles. Errol Black and Len Evans are the two most important people in my life in terms of politics."
    — Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell

    "With all of the years Errol and I worked together, trying to convince people in power to change their ways, to the power of word and strongly-worded letters, I have had an extremely difficult time trying to find the words to express the loss of my dear friend and the words that capture the love and respect I have for Errol."
    — Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres), President of the Brandon and District Labour Council

    Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 9, 2012



November 05, 2012
  • Errol Black (1939-2012). Todd Fugleberg, BUFA President

    It is with profound sadness that the Brandon University Faculty Association bids farewell to an honoured colleague, trusted friend and a truly remarkable man, Errol Black. Errol passed away at his home on November 3rd after a lengthy battle with ALS.

    Errol was a professor of Economics at Brandon University from 1970-2002. He was one of the leaders of the drive to certify BUFA (in 1978) as a union representing all full-time and part-time members of the academic, instructional, and related staff at Brandon University. He was very active in BUFA, serving in many different roles on the executive including President on a number of occasions. He played a major role in BUFA's development into a principled and effective union which promotes and protects the rights and interests of faculty members. Errol was named an honorary lifetime member of BUFA in October 2001.

    Errol was elected to Brandon City Council in 1998, was twice re-elected and served until 2010. He was ever an energetic proponent of social justice in Brandon.

    Errol was a prolific scholar and writer when it came to social issues in Brandon, Manitoba and Canada in general. He was one of the co-founders of the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) in 1997. According to the Brandon Sun "[this] organization is concerned with issues of social and economic justice and is considered one of the country's leading progressive voices in public policy debates". Errol was recently (October 28th) honoured at a brunch at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg intended to raise money for the Errol Black Chair in Labour Studies at the CCPA Manitoba office. This research chair is designed to honour his contributions by ensuring that the work he has been engaged in will be carried on long into the future.

    On behalf of the BUFA Executive and all members of BUFA, I would like to extend condolences to his family and to his many friends for the loss of such a great man.

    Todd Fugleberg, BUFA President



October 04, 2012
  • BUFA Donates to Research Chair.

    The Brandon University Faculty Association (BUFA) announced today that it will contribute $10,000 towards the proposed Errol Black Chair in Labour Studies, a full-time research position being established by the Manitoba Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

    The contribution, which was approved by a vote of the BUFA membership, will be made over a five-year period.

    Named in honour of the retired Brandon University Professor of Economics, BUFA activist and long-time public interest advocate, the focus of the research chair will be on provincial and national labour issues, with a particular emphasis on the challenges facing the trade union movement.

    In commenting on this development, BUFA President Todd Fugleberg said, "Errol is an outstanding scholar of labour relations, a truly public intellectual, whose prolific and insightful writings have helped shape the public discourse on social issues for over 30 years."

    "This research chair is designed to honour his contributions by ensuring that the work he has been engaged in will be carried on long into the future", Fugleberg added.

    The first installment of BUFA's contribution will be presented at the Errol Black Chair in Labour Studies Fundraising Luncheon, hosted by the Manitoba CCPA ([email protected]) scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday October 28 at the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg.

    UFA represents approximately 240 full-time, part-time, and sessional employees at Brandon University - including Professors, Librarians, Professional Associates, Instructional Associates, and Administrative Associates.

    For further information, contact:
    Todd Fugleberg, BUFA President, 204-571-8577
    Joe Dolecki, BUFA Vice-President, 204-727-9749



April 03, 2012
  • Message to BUFA Members re: Brandon City Council Motion to Review Manitoba Labour Relations Act. Joe Dolecki, BUFA President

    As you may know, last night Brandon’s City Council passed the following motion, moved by Councillor Jim McCrae, a former Attorney General in the Filmon Government, and seconded by Len Isleifson:

    "REVIEW OF MANITOBA LABOUR RELATIONS ACT

    WHEREAS fair and respectful workplaces are essential to the effective functioning of our community, and all of Manitoba; and

    WHEREAS a recent prolonged labour dispute at Brandon University seriously disrupted service delivery to the public, and continues to threaten the long-term economic health of our community and region; and

    WHEREAS other recent labour-related events in Brandon may result in far-reaching labour/management animosity and friction; and

    WHEREAS effective administration of a fair and balanced Manitoba Labour Relations Act would reduce workplace stress, improve labour/management relations, promote respect, restore trust, eliminate intimidation from any quarter, resolve issues without the necessity of costly litigation, and benefit our community and Manitoba as a whole;

    NOW THEREFORE BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Brandon petition the Manitoba Legislature to review the Manitoba Labour Relations Act, and its administration, to ensure Manitoba employees and employers can operate in fair and respectful workplaces.”

    The vote was 7-2 (Councillors Chaboyer and Montague opposed), with Councillor Rice abstaining and Councillor Harwood absent.

    While the preamble is based on a number of logical, factual, and conceptual errors (including an inversion of cause and effect in the 3rd Whereas), it seems that the City is suggesting (in an oblique way) that the Provincial Government restructure the Labour Relations Act to eliminate the right to strike of BUFA members, either explicitly (as is the case for Faculty Associations in British Columbia) or by means of the imposition of compulsory arbitration in some form. (Note the reference in the 2nd Whereas to “economic health,” which has been used by the federal government to justify its objective elimination of the right to strike in a number of recent disputes.)

    Interestingly enough, the BUFA Executive has just received a synopsis of a recent Saskatchewan decision rendered by Justice Dennis Ball in Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v. Saskatchewan. Here, Justice Ball ruled that Saskatchewan’s Public Service Essential Services Act (2008) is unconstitutional, since it denies some public employees the right to strike. Ball found that “the right to strike is essential to the right to bargain collectively and is therefore constitutionally protected by the guarantee of freedom of association in s.2 (d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” Ball’s finding builds on the earlier Supreme Court rulings in Health Services v. British Columbia (2007) and Ontario v. Fraser (2011), by explicitly incorporating inter alia the ILO’s Convention No. 87, signed by Canada, which includes an undertaking by signatories to protect the right to strike. Of course, the Government of Saskatchewan has announced that it will appeal Ball’s decision. The matter will undoubtedly end up in the Supreme Court of Canada.

    BUFA will be monitoring the progress, if any, of City Council’s motion at the Provincial level, as well as the appeal of the Saskatchewan case.

    Meanwhile, non-faculty workers at the UM will take a strike vote today. The issue is salary. CBC reports that the University is claiming that the Government has ‘mandated’ a wage freeze for these workers, although no evidence of this ‘mandate’ has been provided. To recall an old phrase: ‘first time tragedy, second time farce’.



December 06, 2011
  • BUFA Ratifies Tentative Agreement.

    The Executive Committee of the Brandon University Faculty Association (BUFA) announced this evening that the BUFA Membership has ratified the tentative agreement reached following a 45 day strike.

    The margin of acceptance was 93 percent.

    The four year agreement features salary increases of 1.0%, 1.5%, 3.0% and 3.0%, plus annual increments. As well, the salary floors and ceilings will be increased by one step effective April 1, 2011. The Professional Development Allowance has been increased to $1,800 per year, and there have been increases in the travel and meal allowances.

    In addition, any savings from the annual unfunded pension liability special payments will be distributed one-third to BUFA members, one-third to student bursaries, and one-third to the University Operating Budget, over the life of the contract.

    Several important changes in contract language were achieved, including: an entitlement for research dedicated days for Professional Associates, restrictions on technologically mediated courses, the right of first refusal for sessional instructors, a strengthening of the non-discrimination article, and a revision of the provisions applying to coaches, the Athletic Director and the Athletic Therapist. BUFA represents approximately 240 full-time, part-time, and sessional employees at Brandon University – including Professors, Librarians, Professional Associates, Instructional Associates, and Administrative Associates.

    For further information contact:
    Bill Paton, BUFA Secretary (727-1000)
    Joe Dolecki, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator (727-9749)



November 26, 2011
  • Message from CAUT Council. James L. Turk, Executive Director, CAUT

    Hi Joe,

    I just read your message to the delegates of the CAUT Council. The following motion was introduced immediately afterwards.

    "That CAUT Council send the Brandon University Faculty Association warmest congratulations on its successful job action, and Council’s deep appreciation to BUFA for standing strong in the face of employer intransigence, union-busting bargaining tactics, and interference by the Manitoba NDP Government."

    I am pleased to advise you that the motion passed unanimously.

    Our Speaker, Ted Montgomery, summarized the sentiments of all of us in regard to your victory: "It’s great to see courage rewarded.

    Every faculty association in Canada is in debt to the members of BUFA. Your members’ determination, courage and solidarity are now the model and the standard for all the rest of our member associations who will be facing the same challenges in their next round of bargaining. Your members are an inspiration well beyond Brandon, beyond Manitoba, but across Canada. All of us are deeply in your debt for the sacrifices your members willingly made to achieve a remarkable victory under very adverse circumstance.

    Yours in solidarity,

    Jim



  • Message to CAUT Council. Joe Dolecki, BUFA President and Chief Negotiator

    To: James Turk
    Subject: message to CAUT Council

    Hi Jim:

    Could you read the following (brief) message to Council delegates? Thanks.

    Cheers,

    Joe

    Dear colleagues:

    As you know, last BUFA negotiators were able to conclude a tentative agreement at the table. For BUFA members, this represents a fundamental victory and a tribute to our members’ inner strength, determination, sacrifice and solidarity during the 44-day strike. The significance of this achievement is underlined by the fact that:

    · We were confronted by an Employer, led by a self-professed ‘ethicist’, who sought -- through a wholesale assault on our Collective Agreement -- to ‘change the culture’ of our university from one based on collegiality and mutual respect to one based on the secrecy, fear and supplication;

    · We were confronted by an Employer who was willing to literally sacrifice our university and our students to achieve this end;

    · We were confronted by one of the most aggressive and expensive anti-union lawyers in Canada, whose mission was to provoke and then break our strike, and ultimately our Union;

    · We were confronted by a hostile public and a continuous campaign of vilification in the local media; and

    · We were confronted by the hypocrisy of an allegedly 'labour-friendly' government whose interventions systematically aided and abetted the Employer's efforts to destroy free collective bargaining on our campus and replace it with 'collective begging.'

    But the membership of BUFA prevailed

    We thwarted all of the Employer’s language initiatives and made some significant advances on our own.

    We preserved free collective bargaining on our campus and served notice to the Employer that we will do whatever it takes to defend our members, our students, our university, and our Collective Agreement now and in the future.

    Simply stated: We won this strike.

    In closing, on behalf of the BUFA Executive Committee, the Bargaining Team, and our membership, I wish to express our deep heartfelt appreciation to CAUT for you unwavering support, and in particular to the defence fund's flyin' pickets – who were absolutely crucial to our members’ morale.

    Thanks to you all!

    Joe Dolecki,
    BUFA President and Chief Negotiator



  • Notice of Meeting. BUFA Executive

    To All BUFA Members

    There will be a closed Informational Meeting for all BUFA members on Monday November 28, 2011 at 1:30pm. This meeting will still run regardless of the recent tentative settlement.

    Location: Strike Headquarters, 1428 Louise Ave, Brandon.

    BUFA Executive



November 25, 2011
  • Tentative Agreement Reached. BUFA Bargaining Team

    A tentative agreement has been reached between BUFA and the Employer after 10.5 hours of intensive negotiations today. Details of the agreement remain confidential pending a ratification vote. There will be an information meeting for BUFA members held at Strike Headquarters on Monday at 1:30 p.m.

    With the tentative agreement, the strike ends tonight at 11:59 p.m. There will be no picketing tomorrow. Classes will resume at 6:00 p.m. on Monday.

    You won this, guys! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

    BUFA Bargaining Team
    Derek Brown, Joe Dolecki, Elisabeth MacDonald-Murray, Bill Paton, David Winter




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