Sunday, August 14, 2005

AUGUST 2005 NEWSLETTER

Serving our customers with pride!
Does anyone remember that philosophy?

You might if you worked here before the millenium. It used to be emblazoned on many of the Parks Vehicles. Service to the customer was number one.Staffing levels were at an all time high and we could afford the time and labour to make sure that the customers experience in the Park was second to none, from the washrooms to the clean streets and the breath-taking gardens with stores and restaurants that were open and had the staff to make lines run quickly and smoothly. Then came 9-11, and SARS and a strong Canadian dollar. We had to cut, and cut, and CUT. The Hourly washroom check forms simply disappeared from the restroom walls, there wasn't enough staff to do hourly checks and it looked bad when the forms were never filled out completely
We were cut to the bone and then some. It has become very apparent that we are having a banner year in the Park, as visitor numbers appear way up. I only hope that all our new revenue generating ideas add up to more hours of work for all our members.
I understand that overtime has been capped for some departments. This means that we go home after 40 hour of work. If it should happen that you work more than 40 hours, all hours over the forty become overtime. Wether it is paid in monies or banked time it must be paid at time and one-half or more not straight time. As a unionist I would rather see more members hired to perform this extra work but sometimes that is not feasible and we must do a little extra. Just make sure that you get paid as per our collective agreement
I don't agree with not getting the work done because the bottom line has become profit rather than customer service. I feel it gives the customer a poor impression of the Parks when things are not as good as they should be.
Last meeting a motion was put forward to fight the loss of our jobs. Our Executive sent a letter to John Kernahan to point out our concerns and our resolve to resist the present trend. In his reply, Mr Kernahan stated both his position and his feelings about our concerns. I will be presenting this letter at our upcoming general meeting, Thursday August 18. This will be a very important meeting to attend as we are also expecting a special guest. Leah Casselmann, the President of OPSEU will be attending and we hope that she will speak and field any questions the membership might have.
Leah is one of the most powerful Union officials in Ontario. Bring your concerns to her at the meeting, Leah is very knowledgable; and if she chooses to make some inquiries it will be right to Dalton McGinty or Jim Bradley and we believe she has the clout to make them listen.
See all of you at the meeting! We should be proud of our local, it is growing in strength and I think our management has noticed!
In solidarity,
Bill

Things that make you 0o Hmmmm... Confirm or deny these rumours!
They're baaack... The tourists I mean. So far this season it looks like the numbers of visitors are up. Judging by the traffic and the difficulty you have getting around to venues within the Park I'd say numbers should be up significantly.
I recently spoke with a few managers and workers in some private tourism venues and they are quite pleased with their numbers. In fact, they are looking at some record numbers for the season, rivalling pre-911 numbers. Things are good.
When asking the same questions of the Park, they are 'cautiously optimistic' and that numbers are up slightly but still not where they want to be. They are about even with last year, but due to inflation,we are not ahead. Those predictions kind of surprised me. How can some private venues be up significantly, while the Parks is still treading water. I don't think we could run any leaner on staffing levels. I think we have already overdone it in that area.
If the people are here but they are not buying what the Parks has to offer, then perhaps it is time to take a serious look at what we are offering. Are we open when the people want us to be? Are we stocking what they want to buy at a price they want to pay? If we aren't then why? Isnt that why members of upper Management get such fantastic salaries. They can read the customer and anticipate what will sell, making money for the company. There has been alot of talk about branding lately, and we see the results with the opening of Pizza-Pizza and Yogen-fruz opening up in the Parks. Fortunately, our members are still working in the 'brand' venues.
In the 'Old Days', the merchandise that was ordered for sale in our retail stores filled the distribution center, but by the end of the season, the majority of the stock was sold and we did not have a lot of cash tied up in inventory that won't move. Unfortunately that is no longer the case. We seem to have a glut of merchandise that we just can't seem to unload, even at the clearance prices advertised at Victoria Park. It seems that the Park went to great expense shipping skids of old merchandise to a trade show in the Middle East and then had to pay the cost of bringing the stock back home...The skids did not appear to have been even opened.
Did you know that the Parks employs a buyer that they regularity fly in from Montreal a couple times a month. This employee is picked up and dropped off by Park workers. They are put up in one of the top hotels in the city and all their expenses are paid (and let's not forget the salary) Apparently all the costs associated with employing this buyer still costs less than hiring someone local, or so we have been told...
We have also heard rumours that we have changed suppliers
for ice cream and hotdogs and are currently paying significantly more for these new items. Are they raising the prices to the visitor to cover these costs or is the Parks just eating the cost differences It hardly seem like good business sense to me.
It just seems so frustrating that we are running ourselves ragged trying to count every penny and stretch it for all it is worth only to hear of money leaving the company like
water over the Falls. Where is the responsability? This situation could be the poster child for the need for clear and transparent operating practices. Its much easier to work together for a common cause when we see that we are all in the same boat and paddling in the same direction.

Don't forget the rules for exercising seniority, early recall, extra work and transfers
Just a reminder folks. Those seasonals wishing to exercise their seniority must do so in writing within 48 hours fo receiving their layoff notice. For those of you that want every opportunity to work, you should also ask for early recall and extra work at the same time. This will cover all your bases should any work become available.
Another thing to keep in mind is putting your name on the transfer list if you wish to be considered for any other positions in the Park. You must let the Park know in writing prior to February 1st. The Parks is required to consider the people on the transfer list for an opening prior to the Parks making any new hires. Make the Contract work for you . By following the contract you have a leg to stand on should you feel that you have been unfairly passed over for a position that you are qualified to fill.

Image Training 101.
Brothers and sisters;
There is a new training session in town. It is called "Image Training" and is presented by Katharine Fisher. This session is meant to foster consistency for employees within the park with regards to Uniforms, body image and behavior. We were one of the first groups to receive this training but I believe that all employees in the Park will eventually experience this training.. I had a few concerns with the information we were given. I agree that if uniforms are issued then we should wear them, but I find it frustrating that they never seem to be available in my size, let alone enough sets that I don't have to be doing laundry every night to have a clean uniform for my next shift.
One of the topics of body image was tattoos. Apparently any visible ink is to be covered, either by long pants and long sleeves or a bandage.
How nice to have to wear long pants outside in the sweltering heat because someone may be offended by your tat. Perhaps if your ink told everyone to F— - Off, then I could see it being offensive, but any tattoo? In many cultures, tattoos are considered body art.
All Facial piercings and tongue piercings are to be removed, there shall be no excessive hair styles, extreme colours or jewelry. I wonder if this will now become the criteria for new hires? (like the song... long haired freaky people need not apply) It should be interesting how they will enforce these new image rules, especcially to long time employees and
students...Sorry guys although you've had these tats/ piercings/haircolour for years, we are cleaning up our image so you must make some changes...Enough said.
As for the behavior portion of our training, most
of it is common sense. Watch your language and your conversation, don't smoke or eat while on duty, don't hang around your friend's workplace and always be courteous. Yes these would be good rules to live by when you are in the public eye. Maybe we all need to be reminded of this once and a while.
So remember,when it is your turn to experience image training, soak it all in like a sponge. No laughing or comments under your breath. After all this session probably cost a lot of time and money to compile in our fiscally responsible work environment. Someone said once that they wanted us to portray a Disney-like image... In the parks need to cut for efficiency and cost savings, the message got twisted and changed to striving for a Mickey Mouse Operation...
In Solidarity
A graduate from Image Training 101

Where are you? Let me know!
Good day everyone. I hope everyone is enjoying this hot weather! I am still receiving alot of returned mail from the last mail-out. Please, if you, or someone you know, have moved or are not getting the Nobulletin in the mail let me know. You can contact me at work (905-357-9340) or at home (905-994-1113).
Make sure you check out the Niagara Parks Newsline issue #7 (The NPC newsletter) Please read the section near the end of the issue about the Code of Respect Committee.
If you have any issues you would like to discuss, feel free to contact a steward or executive member.
In Solidarity
FredHopkins

Oxymorons
CALM Act naturally
Resident alien
Advanced BASIC
Genuine imitation
Good Grief
Same difference
Almost exactly
Sanitary landfill
Alone together
Jumbo shrimp
Silent scream
Small crowd
Business ethics
Soft rock
Military intelligence

Mark this date!

General Membership Meeting
Thursday, August 18
7PM
Spring St Legion, Branch 479
Upstairs
*Special Guest Lean Casselman, President of OPSEU
*John Kernahan's response to our concerns
*Updates
Next meeting: Thursday, November 17
Come and partipate!

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at 6548 Dunn St. Niagara Falls, Ont. L2G-2R1
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