Tuesday, August 30, 2005

NOVEMBER 2004 NO BULL NEWSLETTER

Taking time to remember!
Christmas is fast approaching. It seems that every year the trappings of the holiday appear earlier in the stores. This year I saw Halloween items jostling for space with Christmas. Its hard to believe that its just November.... Just November... In our fast paced lives it is just a breather between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it is something more
I hope this year that you donned you red poppy over your heart and took some time to reflect on how lucky we are to be Canadian and to enjoy the freedoms that so many gave their lives to defend. I am sure that everyone can think of a relative or loved one who served our country, wheather it be in the Great Wars, Korea,1 the Gulf, or more recently the War on Terror. How lucky for us that there were so many brave young men willing to die for their country and the freedom it stood for. Even today, courageous men and women are putting their lives on the line to protect our values and our lives. Every year we set aside a moment of silence to honour our fallen on November eleventh. It seems so little to honour so much!
Some days we gripe and complain, we aren't where we want to be, we hate our jobs; life seems so hard and unfair. We all do it. But we should also take the time to reflect on the blessing that we do have, especially when we see the plight of so many around the world. We should honour those souls who gave their lives so that we may live as we do today. Freely, in a country of plenty.

In thanks and remembrance Marie Stokes

A few words from our secretary
In this issue let's talk about apathy. For those who do not know the word means to show lack of interest or concern. From looking at the attendance sheets since I was elected as secretary and over the years that I have been a member of the Union, the numbers are not too impressive. The meeting at the Niagara Falls Golf Club was a perfect example of apathy. Since I have been secretary, I am still hearing the same phrases, the Union is no good, the Union sucks and so on... Of course these comments are coming from the members that do not show up to the meetings and do not talk to the appropriate members that are not negative towards the membership in general. The Executive has had some ideas on incentives to entice the members to attend, but I think they are only temporary ones. If we can receive some ideas from the rest of the local, as well as some feedback from the Executive and Steward body it would make more of a concensus for the local
I remain optimistic that the majority of the local that do not show up to the meetings are reading the newsletter and viewing the website and therefore are informed.
Yours in Solidarity, Fred Hopkins


Ain't it the truth!
The day after you finally throw out all that junk you had been saving (just in case) is the day when you find you need it!

Time for a reality check!
Marie Stokes
I'm sure everyone saw the posters up on the bulletin boards about Take our Kids to Workday. The premise was to give children an idea about what the 'real world1 was like and what their parents did to support the family. After all, these kids will soon be entering the work force themselves and it would give them a preview of what to expect a great idea, wouldn't you say?
I happened to notice another similar poster up one day, and when I read it I howled, and thought: Yes! This was a great idea too! The poster advertised November 3 as "Take our Senior Managers to Work Day". Like the earlier concept the objective of the day was to give the Senior Managers an idea about what the "Real World1 was like.
Imagine, your Senior Manager would actually come to understand what their staff does in the department they manage. What a novel concept! They would learn about what it is like to actually be on the front line with the other grunts. But it shouldn't be just for the day, it should be at least a week or two, so they can get a true feeling about all the aspects of work here.
Think of it, your Senior Manager would actually get a taste of what it is like trying to do the work of three people because its busy and they already laid off most of the staff to save their budgets. Or to have their pay and hours cut because it was a slow day and all the staff wasn't needed, (after all, we must be efficient). Or better yet to be laid off early and feel what it is like to worry if they have enough hours to qualify for unemployment and wonder how they will manage their mortgage or the kid's braces when hours fall short.
Perhaps they can see how cold it actually gets working outside on the machinery in the spring and fall and get a better appreciation of why workers want their winter coats. It’s easy to be nitpicking about the meaning of winter weather when you are snug inside you heated office. A day on an open tractor in the mist would undoubtedly change their tune in a heartbeat.
Senior Managers can step into the shoes (and the pay) of a seasonal worker and see what it feels like to work 50 weeks a year, a whole week longer than a full time employee and not have any benefits, or job security, because they only require three weeks notice to lay you off.
It would also be refreshing if Senior Managers also had a better understanding of what it is like working beside a full time employee and doing the same work, yet not being paid the same rate. Some wage differences are quite significant between seasonal and full-time positions. Maybe they wouldn't be dragging their heels getting moving on the seasonal joint job evaluation if they had a little taste of that reality.
Wouldn't it be great to see your Senior Manager struggling to do a job manually, or with outdated equipment, knowing that the job would be much easier with the proper equipment. What a shame that the budget cuts forced the department to make due for another year.
Maybe the Senior Managers would learn the fear of having their future and the future of their job in the hands of people who often don't have a clue about what actually happens in their department. The frustration of not knowing what to expect next because everything is such a big secret and the sense of unfairness that we don't seem to be able to have any input on the decisions that affect us all. Perhaps they would better understand the workers mistrust of the Parks Commission when what is said does not really match up with what is seen. Maybe then they would realize the importance of open and honest communication throughout the workplace at all levels.
Yes! I definitely think that "Take our Senior Managers To Work Week has some merit and I applaud the creative soul who thought it up.... You can bet it wasn't a Senior Manager!"


ZAP YOU'RE STUPID
•Half the skills of technical workers become obsolete within three to seven years of completing a formal education,' says the Canadian Labor Market arid Productivity Centre. In other words, the half-life of knowledge is three to seven years, says futurist John Kettle. As Mr. Kettle projects in this chart, if you're one year out of college, you will have already lost 9 per cent of what you learned (if the half-life is seven years) or 21 per cent if the half-life Is three years. In the most rapidly changing fields - such as biogenetics - most of what you know will be wrong in four years. 'Unless you act like a student for the rest of your life while keeping. Your job going, you're going to be hopelessly out of touch,' he says. 'Or have to go into management. *

The Chief Steward's Corner
Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Barb Wilson. I have been working seasonally with the Parks for ten years. I drive a people mover. I became involved with the Union several years ago because I wanted to make things better for workers at the Parks. This past June I was elected Chief Steward of the Local. I would like to thank the members for their support and confidence in my abilities.
Things have been going well despite being very busy including a move to a new house. I am now a resident of Thorold and my new phone number is 905-227-9082. Please make note of the new number because it is not on the business cards we sent out to you with the last newsletter. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to call me or any of the local stewards
Just to update you on what has been happening the past few months, we have been working with regional office in Fonthill to arrange mediation for our outstanding grievances that are at the arbitration stage. If you have a grievance that is at stage three and you haven't heard from me yet, please give me a call. Better yet, why don’t you come out to the next meeting and speak to me there. I am looking forward to getting to know more of you better
In Solidarity,
Barb Wilson

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

JOHN KERNAHAN'S REPLY LETTER

July 6, 2005


Bill Rudd, President
OPSEULocal217
c/o Niagara Parks' Maintenance Centre
7856 Portage Road
Niagara Falls, ON L2G 5Y8


Dear Bill:
I am in receipt of a letter from Fred Hopkins expressing the union's concern over what you believe to be the "...systematic loss of our jobs to contracting out, rental of our facilities to private operators and improper exclusions." You have suggested a meeting in order that the union may elaborate on these issues and I certainly welcome that opportunity to better understand your concerns.

On the issue of exclusions, I understand that this matter has been pursued through a policy grievance at the Grievance Settlement Board (GSB) and that the Commission has recently been approached by OPSEU Toronto to schedule the case. Despite that, it is our desire to continue conversations with respect to this issue and we have begun the process of holding meetings with the union and each department to review particular areas of concern. To the credit of both parties, we have never had to go to the GSB to resolve exclusion matters since the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act was passed into law over 30 years ago. We have always been able to work out these matters internally through open dialogue. The process we have had in place, I believe, has worked well for both parties and let me remind you union membership in the Parks has grown significantly during this time.

Regarding the issue of contracting out and private operators in the Park, I do appreciate your concern. It is certainly our desire to provide as much employment to our staff as possible within our means, however there are situations where cost and other considerations such as available equipment make it necessary for NPC to consider other options. As we have discussed in the past and as I know you appreciate, we must be competitive as an organization in order to ensure that we are operating in the most efficient manner possible. As a self-funding agency, the Commission has a duty to consider alternative forms of service delivery to ensure our activities are carried out in the most efficient and effective means possible.
I do look forward to meeting with you to discuss your issues in more detail. Please contact Dave Morris, Director of Human Resources at 905.353.5413 to arrange a suitable meeting time.

Thank you.
Yours truly

John Kernahan

LETTER TO JOHN KERNAHAN ABOUT SOME CONCERNS FROM OUR MEMBERSHIP

June 26, 2005



Dear John:


Our members have approached us with some grave concerns about situations that have been and are currently happening within the Parks. Upon discussing these issues at our last General Membership meeting, over 100 members voted unanimously to take whatever steps necessary to combat the systematic loss of our jobs to contracting out, rental of our facilities to private operators and improper exclusions.

As an executive, we felt it was only fair to initiate our action with a letter to you voicing our concerns and to give you an opportunity to address them.
You have said on numerous occasions that you welcome input and wish to increase morale within the Parks.

We hope that you will act on our concerns in a timely manner and would be happy to meet with you at any time to elaborate on our issues.
The executive members would not like to take further measures. Our next membership meeting is approaching and we will be obligated to report our progress on this matter. We await your reply.

Sincerely,
for
The executive of OPSEU Local 217.

REQUEST FORM FOR EXTRA WORK

Ontario Public Service Employees Union
Local 217 Lay-off notice reply
Date:
To:_______________ Department:
Part A
I_______________would like to express my intent to exercise my seniority to extend my season as per ArticleSO.06 of the Collective Agreement.
Part B
I_______________ would like to express my interest in extra work
Within the Niagara Parks Commission, all departments, to extend my season and while on layoff.
PartC
I_________________would like to express my interest to be considered for early recall as per Article 30.10 of the Collective Agreement.
Employee signature.
_____________________
Management signature.
_____________________
cc: Human Resources cc: Department head

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

MAY 2005 NO BULL NEWSLETTER

Under Attack!
Hi Folks! Sorry it has taken me so long to put an article in the newsletter. Lots of things have been going on in the Park and I kept getting sidetracked. I finally got an article together for February and our editor got sick and we cancelled the publication. So finally, here I am.
Just a quick update about some important issues. The health premium grievance that asks the employer to cover 100% of the Ontario Health Tax is being fought by Unions throughout Ontario and some of them have already been successful.
One of the things that has been driving me crazy has been the employers practice of excluding members from the bargaining unit. They seem to think they can slap a manager title on anyone and yank them out of the bargaining unit whenever they please. In reality, the Parks must inform the Union of their intent to exclude the position and the job description should also satisfy the criteria for exclusion. Many of the positions that have been removed fail to satisfy the criteria outlined and we are pushing OPSEU to fight this issue before the Parks excludes us all.
It may not seem like a big deal to some members, but it certainly will be in the event of a lockout or strike. It can also be an effective way of busting the Union. For those of you that may like the idea of being excluded, just remember that you lose the protection of the collective agreement and you may not like your job security. Leaving the bargaining unit also means losing the benefits of seniority in the bargaining unit, as some long time managers found out when their pink slips came through.
Health and Safety is a subject that is important to all of us workers. Unfortunately, since it can be expensive to ensure that our brothers and sisters go home safely each shift, it doesn't seem to be a priority with today's upper management. We finally have a safety officer to replace the much-missed Bill Poole. Her name is Laura Eggar. Things don't seem to be moving at any speed yet. We still have many concerns with the lack of training, safety certification and inspections that, we feel should have been a priority to deal with. I am trying to be patient with the new staff, but I am frustrated by the slow progress and the lack of any efforts on the employer's part to allow our worker members the right to participate in some of the policies and procedures being developed. There is no T in team, and apparently there is no Union either.
We must push to get back on track. Hopefully someone in Upper management will get their head out of the sand and show some commitment from the top that they care about the health and safety of all workers.
I must point out that we have only 17 months remaining on the current contract. I feel that we will be facing a very tough set of negotiations. When I discuss the last set of negotiations with the executive and negotiating team, most feel that the employer was neither honest, nor fair. In other words, you can trust them as far as you can throw them. It seemed a little ironic that the company that pleaded poverty all through negotiations started major renovations at Victoria Park Restaurant and proudly announced the multi-million dollar fiasco known as the Great Gorge Gondola just after the contract was finally ratified, just narrowly averting a strike.
I also feel that the increase in exclusions and the systematic raiding of the bargaining unit in favor of non-union staff is a form of Union busting and management is doing their best to weaken the local before the next set of negotiations. We must work together to fight this. Perhaps you should think of setting aside a little rainy day fund, like an insurance policy against bad management. By preparing early enough we will have the strength and ability to fight off unreasonable demands. Perhaps I am being pessimistic, but I for see some rainy days ahead, and I plan on being ready for them!
In Solidarity
Bill Rudd


A few words from our Chief Steward
Convention 2005 is over and I would like to thank the members for electing to send me I find that I come home energized and excited to continue in our work. Just being around so many people who are so active in the Union can be inspiring and very informative.
This was election year for the Executive Board. It took two ballots to decide both the President and the First Vice-President/ Treasurer positions, hi the end; Both Leah Casselman and Smokey Thomas were returned to office. Chris Madill, who served us so well as the Region Two Vice-President retired from the Board. However, she continues to remain active in the Union. Chris was elected Region Two's member on the Provincial Womens Committee.
Closer to home, we mediated some of our outstanding grievances on April 1st with mixed results. The next round of mediation will be on May 16th, and we will try for good results for our members. Whatever happens, we will keep up the fight and continue to police our contract.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to call me at (905) 227-9082 and I will try to help, or look for me on the bus.
Yours in Solidarity,
Barb Wilson

Where are we headed?
Contract workers and excluded positions. It seems to be more and more the norm in the Niagara Parks Commission. Seems like every day another job is made excluded and we are seeing more and more jobs being posted as one year contract jobs. One year? I wonder.
There was a time, whenever there was any heavy construction done in the Parks, all of the prep work, necessary sodding and clean up was done by Park employees. Recently, on a drive through the Park, I watched crews from an outside landscape company cleaning up, preparing and sodding areas in Queen Victoria Park. It is very discouraging to see this knowing that many of our staff are still laid off due to what management calls 'a shortage of work'. I guess that means shortage of work for Park employees but not for contract workers.
This is magnified by a recent posting in the Niagara Falls Review by the Niagara Parks looking for contractors to maintain the Gateway Project lands that run along Roberts Street.
The ongoing push by management to have non-bargaining unit workers doing our bargaining unit work is being challenged with a policy grievance that is in its third stage waiting to be heard at the grievance settlement board (GSB)
Along with this, it is getting harder and harder to get the job done with less yellow helmets and more and more white helmets, with the white helmets knowing less about the jobs they are managing.
I think it may be necessary to take a more direct approach. We may have to take some sort of job action to get our point across.
Finally, as unfortunate as it sounds, it seems like, if your department does not produce a physical profit, it is left to fend for itself. Quality and service has been replaced by profit and loss.
In solidarity
Ian Mather


Can You Canoe?
A Girl Guide troop challenged the management team of a big corporation to a canoe race to raise money for charity. Both teams practiced long and hard.
On the big day, the Girl Guides led throughout the race and won easily. The members of the corporate management team were very embarrassed. They decided to find out what was behind their crushing defeat.
A senior management team was formed to investigate and concluded the reason that they lost was because the Girl Guides had eight people paddling and one person steering, while their team had eight people steering and one person paddling.
The managers hired a consulting company and paid them a whole lot of money. The consulting company advised them that too many people were steering the canoe and not enough people were paddling.
To ensure a win the following year, the canoe team's management structure was totally reorganized. The team now had four Steering Supervisors, three Area Steering Superintendents and one Assistant Superintendent Steering Manager to oversee the one person paddling.
To get the paddler to work harder, they created a new incentive program with a performance system called "Rowing Team Quality First Program' If their team won, the paddler would get new paddles, dinner, a t-shirt and a free pen.
The Girl Guides won again. Humiliated the big corporation laid oft" the paddler for poor performance, halted the development of a new canoe, sold the paddles and cancelled all capital investment for new equipment.
The money saved was distributed to the senior executives as bonuses.

New Committees for Local 217
Sorry this wasn't published earlier folks but I was out of commission in February and could an edition of the No Bulletin out before our last meeting. By the way, we had a great turn out for February meeting and we hope this is a sign of things to come for future meetings. Seasonal Joint Job Evaluation
Barb Wilson, Paul Ecker, Ronnie Fawcett, Penny Berketa (alternate) Full time JJE Maintenance
Scan Leitch, Placido lammarino, Bill Rudd, Penny Berketa Human Rights
Bernie Villamil, Fernendo Fortino, Sue Longmuir Constitution Committee
lan Mather, Colin McKenzie, Shelley Reed, Colleen Cotter Compliment Review Committee
Bill Rudd, Paul Ecker, Mark Farquharson
Employee Relations Committee
Bill Rudd, lan Mather, Barb Wilson, Fred Hopkins


Things that make you go HMMMM.

Marie Stokes
Well, here I go again, picking on horticulture. I guess because I work in this department that I see first hand some of the logic-defying happenings in the park. I'd be more than happy to pick on any other department in the parks if someone would like to give me the facts. Maybe there might even be some tips from upper management to redirect some of the heat??
Times are tough; we have to do more with less. We need to think carefully on how we spend our money. We need to prioritize our responsibilities so we get the best bang for our buck. (After all, we don't actually generate any revenue in Horticulture, People travel from all over the world just to see our gift shops, they want to stroll down the aisles and even picnic there, but! digress)
Okay, that's fine, fiscal responsibility is a good thing... and then we got the first memo... You may remember one of my rants about John Dick being replaced by three managers while our front line workers were being let go. We scratched our heads and carried on; maybe it was just a glitch, or an anomaly. Then we got the second memo....Horticulture had been reorganized.
Senior management, in their wisdom and quest for efficiency have decided that we need more staff...Not on the front lines where we are really short and the quality and service is deteriorating, but in Upper Management, where some may say that the numbers are already bloated. Yes, believe it or not, we need to increase our productivity, so we add more management
I spoke to a couple other 'old timers' in the department. Going back about 20 years we used to have a Director, a Co-ordinator, 8 Section Foremen and 4 Lead hand/ Sub-foremen. Times changed and responsibilities changed and some retired. About 10 years ago our flow chart comprised of Director, Co-ordinator, 6 Foremen and 10 Lead hand/Sub-foremen. Staff was at, in most cases, an all time high. Then came 911, war, SARS, and a soaring loonie. Early layoffs and in some cases permanent layoffs reduced the Horticulture payroll significantly, some sections lost 40% of their workforce. After all, we had to be more efficient. Now we come to today.
Now in Horticulture the flow chart is bigger and more complex We have a Senior Director, a Superintendent, a Co-ordinator, 3 Managers, 6 Supervisors and 10 Sub-foremen/ Lead hands We also have a Superintendent at the School who crosses over into the 'park' flow chart to supervise the Greenhouse. All this after the workforce was severely chopped. If all the exclusions and downsizing continue, there will soon be more excluded managers than actual workers.
I assume all of these fancy new titles also come with a fancy new salary.
Perhaps I am stupid, or naive in the way of business sense, but I find it impossible to understand how these moves are cost efficient and in the best interest of the company or the visitors we serve. Perhaps someone can explain it to me?

Members Alert!
Barb Wilson
Brothers and sisters, our local is under attack. First the Table Rock Currency exchange and Photo lab were contracted to outside companies. Those jobs once belonged to members of our Local. Management has been systematically taking jobs from our bargaining unit and arbitrarily designating them as excluded positions. When the Gateway project was announced, there was a big hoopla about the Parks maintaining the area. Great! More jobs for our workers. Sadly this is not the case as the Parks has placed an ad in the Review looking for a private contractor to take care of the gateway. Those guys you see busily laying sod at the base of Murray Hill are Stevensville Landscaping and not our workers, who have always done this job in the spring. What a slap in the face when we still have brothers and sisters on lay-off due to lack of work.
How long before it is your job or my job that goes the way of the private contractors? It is time to decide on some strategies and actions to protect our jobs. We must work together to stop the Parks blatant Union busting policies.

Spellbound
I have a spelling checker, it came with my PC. It plainly marks four my revue Mistakes il cannot sea. I've run this poem threw it, I'm sure your please too no, Its letter perfect in its' weigh, My checker tolled me sew.
Our Motto (Besides No Bull!)
The No Bulletin is published and mailed to all signed in members. The No Bulletin is your newsletter. If you have any related articles, jokes or cartoons, please give them to:

Marie Stokes (Editor)
at 6548 Dunn St, Niagara Falls. L2G-2R1.
(905)357-4219
We welcome your comments and sugges­tions and we reserve the right to edit forlength and content.

Monday, August 15, 2005

YEAR OF THE VETERAN

2005 is the year of the veteran.

Nice to see the Park honouring our Vets with free parking. However, Why wouldn't they have done this right from the beginning of the season?

You would think The sacrifice our Veterans made would be greater than the all mighty dollar.

Veterans won't have to battle traffic in Parks

NIAGARA FALLS - First it was the city, now the Niagara Parks Com­mission is offering free parking to Canada's war veterans. For the rest of 2005 - which has been designated the Year of the Veteran - cars with the special Ontario licence plates that show a poppy and the word 'veteran' underneath can park for free on Parks property. Other provincial plates honouring war veterans will get free parking, too. "It is the right thing to do," said Parks chair­man Jim Williams.

From the Niagara Falls Review August 13th 2005

Sunday, August 14, 2005

NIAGARA FALLS REVIEW AUGUST 6 2005

Niagara Falls Review August 6, 2005

Commissioners for a Day

Public offers ideas on future of parks' properties
BY COREY LAROCQUE Review Staff Writer
NIAGARA FALLS - Fast-food outlets like McDonald's or Tim Horton's could have a future at Niagara Parks Com­mission properties, the old hydro generators near Table Rock could become museums and ice-skating could become
a winter attraction if the com-mission embraces some of the suggestions received through public consultations hold ear­lier this year.
The "Commissioner for a Day" exercise generated a long list of suggestions for business activities and opera­tional changes for the Niagara Parks Commission. During the spring, the parks commis­sion hosted three public meetings, a session with its employees and an Internet forum to get input from peo­ple who live in Niagara Falls, Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-
Lake about the parks commis­sion's future.
Chairman Jim Williams and consultants from OEB Inter­national presented results at a reception at the Legends on Niagara golf course Thursday.
"It was evident to me, for whatever reason, the parks had drifted away from local, public sentiment," Williams said after the presentation. "This is a way of us getting back to our roots."
This was the first time the parks commission tried the Commissioner for a Day exer­cise, but Williams promised
the commission will continue it in some form. Commission­ers want to "capitalize on the passion" the public has for the parks commission, attrac­tions, property and role, he said.
Results from the 47-page report are also posted on the commission's website.
Throughout the consulta­tion, there was a sense the public would support brand-name restaurants and the commission getting into the business of providing accom­modation as long as it was "tasteful," said John Arm-
strong, the OEB consultant who led the study.
"Boutique hotels" at the Feather in the Glen area or hotels tied in with its golf courses are possibilities, Arm­strong said.
Strong public support exists for the parks commission's mandate to preserve the natu­ral area along the Niagara River and historical attrac­tions, he said. People also support the idea of enhancing a visitor's experience by adding new activities within the park system.


Niagara Falls Review August 6, 2005NPC: Ideas about for parks' future
"Everybody is talking about a winter attraction being ice-skating," Armstrong said.
The study revealed the public was not as aware of the parks commis­sion's mandate to be financially self-sufficient, meaning it doesn't get public funding from any level of government. Its retail stores, attrac­tions and golf courses are the biggest sources of revenue. The commission needs to find ways to generate more revenue, Williams said. He referred to one member of the public whose submission said the parks commission has to carry $20 million in assets that don't gen­erate any revenue.
Changes in the local economy over the past 15 years mean there's more private-sector competition for the parks commission. That means
the commission may have to start doing some things differently from the way it has in the past.
"When there's the gem of a good idea, the committees will be asked to engage in further due diligence."
Jim Williams
"We have to make hard business choices. A lot of those choices come at some expense," Williams said.
The commission is about to begin a three-year business plan. All the input received through the Com­missioner for a Day program will be considered by committees.
"When there's the gem of a good Idea, the committees will be asked to engage in further due diligence," Williams said.
Any ideas they decide to pursue will mature at different paces. Brin­ing in brand-name foods could hap­pen quickly. Others like refurbishing the Toronto Power Co. or Canadian Niagara Power generators for public use could take up to seven years to develop.
"Just think of the potential uses for these two stately buildings," Williams said, noting suggestions for the 100-year-old structures included a hydro museum, visitors centre or condominiums.Results from the Niagara Parks Commis­sion's "Commissioner for a Day" consul­tation are available online at
www.niagaraparks.com


Niagara Falls Review August 6, 2005
NPC's future? Simple, successful

It's not just a muggy week of 30 C heat that makes the thought of gliding across the glass-hard ice of an outdoor rink so appealing. Public skat­ing in Queen Victoria Park is beautiful in its simplicity. It's hard to believe the Niagara Parks Commission hasn't con­sidered it before.
Skating was among the many good ideas that came out of the Commis­sioner for a Day exercise. Over the spring the Niagara Parks Commission asked residents of Niagara Falls, Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake to think like a commissioner. Whoever came up with the ice-skating idea should be made a commissioner for life.
It's hardly rocket science, but the final report released Thursday confirmed Nia-gara residents feels the Parks Commission plays a special rote. They want it to remain "unique and genuine."
Skating would fit perfectly with the Niagara Parks Commission's mandate to preserve the area along the Niagara River, to enhance visitors' experiences and to remain financially self-sufficient.
Building an outdoor rink somewhere in the park wouldn't be much of intru­sion into the natural setting. Charging people $5 to rent skates and another $5 to hit the ice could be a gold mine.
Tie it in with the Winter Festival of Lights and it's an obvious way to extend the length of time tourists stay here, something the tourism industry is always trying to do.
Outdoor skating is enormously popu­lar on Ottawa's Rideau Canal, which
was recently certified by Guinness as the world's longest outdoor rink. It attracts a million visits a year despite the fact Ottawa winters are vile and bit­terly cold.
Other cities also benefit from the pop­ularity of outdoor rinks like Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square and New York's Central Park and Rockefeller Centre.
It feels like the Commissioner for a Day exercise was a turning point for the parks commission, which has had a rough couple of years, especially in the way it is seen by Niagara residents.
The commission's image was bruised last year with the now-infamous aborted gondola. They're still battling the perception they spent too much on the Legends on the Niagara golf course, though the report states Legends gener­ated a profit in 2004.
Residents who live on the south part of the parks commission's lands have been upset the shoreline has been natu­ralized instead of having the neatly manicured look to which they are
accustomed.
But the report makes it clear the parks commission is still under intense finan­cial pressure. Competition from private-sector attractions and restaurants mean the commission has to change the way it does some things.
The consultation suggests the public would accept the parks commission get­ting into some purely commercial ven­tures like brand-name restaurants and hotel accommodation as long as it's done tastefully and the revenue sup­ports the core mandate as stewards of the natural area and historic sites.
They've already begun with Pizza Pizza and Yogen Fruz franchises at Table Rock and the Maid of the Mist plazas. Earlier this summer, the parks replaced their no-name pizza cafe with a Pizza Pizza franchise and sales are booming. Families like the familiarity of brand-name restaurants because they know what a meal will cost and their kids will eat it, parks officials say.
Once upon a time, that kind of pri­vate-sector involvement on parks com­mission property was unthinkable. After all, the parks commission was created was to protect the falls from gaudy exploitation by the private sector.
But it's a brave new world in tourism. Niagara residents are beginning to accept the parks commission has to change to survive. The word is in, though. Keeping it simple and staying true to the original mandate is the key to satisfying the parks commission's closest neighbours.


Niagara Falls Review August 6, 2005
Public is best consultant Parks can turn to

With its Commissioner for a Day study and subsequent report, the Niagara Parks Com­mission is showing it wants to stay in touch with the public's feelings about how land around the falls should be cared for.
"It was evident to me, for whatever reason, the parks had drifted away from local public sentiment," NPC chairman Jim Williams told The Review Thursday.
The Commissioner for a Day study - in which the public was asked to offer ideas for business activities and operational changes the parks could become involved in - is a way for the commission to get "back to our roots," he said.
The study, he said, was to "capitalize on the passion" the public has for the parks and the falls area.
Williams and the commission staff know all about that passion.
They felt it rise up around them last year after the parks commission proposed building a gondola ride in the gorge near Table Rock - an ill-conceived plan-scrapped largely as the result of public opposition.
People in Niagara want to like the Niagara Parks Commission, but incidents like that make it difficult.
Judging by some of their suggestions in the study, people appear to realize the commission is a whole dif­ferent animal among private operators in the tourism industry.
Proposals from the public - skating rinks, or small 'boutique'-style hotels appropriately placed on parks properties - show a respect for the falls and recogni-•tion of the commission's need to produce revenue.
The commission is wise to listen. The best
consultant it could turn to for advice is the public itself, and their ideas come free.

NIAGARA THIS WEEK

NIAGARA THIS WEEK AUGUST 12, 2005
Parks to Niagara: "We're listening"


COMMISSIONER FOR DAY GIVES RESIDENTS THEIR SAY
BY PAUL FORSYTH

THIS WEEK
NIAGARA FALLS — Niagara residents have made it clear that the Niagara Parks Commission must continue its role as protector of the natural beauty of the Falls and the Niagara River cor­ridor, and that any new developments must be tasteful and must not conflict
with the park-like setting the NPC is so famous for.
That being said, they're also will­ing to see new developments on NPC lands so the Crown agency can remain financially self-sufficient in the face of the ever-growing number of private sector attractions nestling up against NPC property in the Falls.
Parks Commission brass say they're listening, and will incorporate the views of dozens of residents and agen­cies that took part in brainstorming sessions in the spring into its long-term plans.
The NPC took a public relations pounding in the spring of last year when it stunned many Niagara resi­dents by announcing plans for a gon­dola ride at the brink of the Falls at Table Rock. It fought valiantly to win over residents who thought the devel­opment would mar the beauty of one of the world's most recognized natural wonders, but in the end scrapped the idea.
NPC chair Jim Williams, who was appointed head of the agency's board of directors right about at the time the NPC was set to announce the gondola idea, says he is committed to listening to what residents want when it comes to future planning.
The series of workshops held in April, along with an Internet survey asking people about all things NPC, were part of what Williams says will be an ongoing consultation with the public.
"I hope you found these workshops a demonstration of this commit­ment," he said as the NPC presented the results of the public feedback at Legends on the Niagara last Thursday. Many of the people who took part in the workshops, organized by St. Catharines-based communications firm OEB International, were present.


John Armstrong, vice-president of OEB, said the workshops showed Niagara residents only want "unique and tasteful" developments on NPC land that won't clash with the park-like atmosphere.
For 120 years, the NPC has served as the guardian of the Falls and the Niagara River corridor, protecting it from what would undoubtedly have been rampant development over the years. But the agency, which main­tains a whopping 1,720 hectares of land from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, says it now finds itself competing against an ever-growing number of private sectoir tourism attractions in Niagara Falls.
Combine that with the fact that the NPC receives no government money and the fact that it spends more than $20 million a year to maintain non-revenue generating operations such as roads, bridges, parks and public washrooms, and it isn't difficult to see the financial challenges facing it.
The agency says it has seen its tourism market share eroded since 2000, and major new private sec­tor projects such as the Great Wolf Lodge could potentially continue that trend.
The gondola idea, which people clearly felt violated the NPC's tradi­tional stewardship role, was one idea to bring in more money. The NPC, which is in the midst of planning out its next three years of operations, is undoubtedly pondering new money-making ideas.
Last August, as part of a series in the wake of the gondola plan, Niagara this Week printed details of an inter­nal NPC master plan that described a "bold new vision" for the commission that included various proposed proj­ects with a price tag of $386 million.
Those ideas included transform­ing the two historic hydro generat­ing stations above Table Rock into attractions once ownership of the buildings is transferred to the NPC from the power companies that own them, and an amusement-park like ride that would take visitors into the river gorge.
The master plan also proposed reducing the Niagara Parkway to one lane through Queen Victoria Park at times, and closing it to public vehi­cles completely during the peak tour­ism season.
Exactly what type of developments the NPC will embark on isn't clear, because the legislation the Parks Commission operates under means its board meetings aren't open to the public. It's likely most of the new developments could occur in and around Queen Victoria Park, which generates 60 per cent of NPC rev­enue.

But the spring brainstorming sessions showed Niagara resi­dents like the idea of trans­forming the power stations into developments such as a hydro museum or visitors' centre, and they're willing to see national fast food chains set up shop on NPC land.
They'd also like to see ice skating become a regular attraction on NPC property in the winter, and while they want the agency to continue to maintain the manicured look of its parkland in high-traffic areas, they're open to the idea of allowing other NPC lands to go natural.
The idea of closing the Parkway during peak times also went over well with the workshop participants, the NPC says.
Among the many ideas tossed out by brainstorm-ing participants were capi­talizing on the area's his­torical sites by creating a Gettysburg-type attraction, that the NPC look at out­sourcing food operations, and charging admission fees at Table Rock.
Williams said the feed­back "validated a number of ideas" already being con­sidered by the NPC, and said the ideas will play an important part in future NPC planning.

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!

The No Bulletin is published and mailed to all signed in members. The No Bulletin is your newsletter. If you have any related articles, jokes or cartoons, please give them to:
Marie Stokes (Editor)
at 6548 Dunn St. Niagara Falls, Ont. L2G-2R1
(905) 357-4219
We welcome your comments and sugges­tions and we reserve the right to edit for length and content.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

PROTECT YOUR COMPUTER

These free downloads will help to protect your computer.
Click on the link then follow the instuctions.

Free anti-virus:

AVG anti-Virus

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Free Firewall:
Their are 2 to choose from:

Zone Alarm
6.0.631.003
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Sygate firewall
http://smb.sygate.com/

Only use one of the firewalls. Downloading both will cancel out each other.

Free spyware software:

Spybot Search & Destroy

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Ad-Aware SE PERSONAL 1.06
spyware protection

http://www.download.com/3120-20_4-0.html?qt=ad-aware&tg=dl-2001&search.x=18&search.y=14


download as many spyware programs as possible. No one spyware program will get everything.




Friday, August 12, 2005

GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING AUGUST 18TH

Don't forget about our general membership meeting at 7 pm at Legion 479 on Spring Street.

Their will be several item to go over and to pass on some new information.

Special Guest:

OPSEU President

Leah Casselman