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Business Manager's Report - Spring 2010

Jun 9, 2010
NAV CANADA Collective Bargaining and Classification

At the time of writing, the new classification plan is not yet in place.  Arbitration dates are set and confirmed, the panel has been selected and we are preparing the brief.  There is little to add to the subject except to say I am comforted by the fact that once the plan is in place, no further work will be required for a significant period of time.  That not to say the outcome of arbitration will be in our favour and further wage adjustments won’t be required.  But I am saying a wholesale review of the job evaluation plan should not be required for many years to come.

Once the arbitration panel completes their work and renders their award, we will focus our attention on completing the negotiations of the collective agreement.  No doubt, our desire to complete bargaining before the expiry date was missed by a wide margin however implementation this classification plan was our first priority and required considerable effort from all concerned.

Government Collective bargaining

By the time you read this report, the National Steering Committee will have met and drafted a list of proposals to be presented to the employer.

Even though wages increases for the first year of the contract are capped at 1.5%, this increase must still be negotiated at the table.  Our goal is to complete this round of bargaining as quickly as possible.  Previous rounds of bargaining have latest far too long.  This is unacceptable as members deserve to have a negotiated agreement in their hands within a reasonable period of time.

In an effort to streamline the preparation of the proposals, the union changed how proposals are reviewed.  The steering committee process was centralized at the regional level with Executive Board members chairing the Regional Steering committees.  This ensures the Executive Board members are more involved with the members and the issues in their unit.

In addition to this, we’ve asked the members to accept a change to the dispute resolution process.  The Public Service Modernization Act (2005) significantly curtailed the ability of any public service union to conduct an effective strike.  The definition of an “essential service” is very broad in that it includes any “service, facility or activity of the Government of Canada that is or will be, at any time, necessary for the safety or security of the public or a segment of the public.” Therefore it is very easy to argue that the work of any of our members is “essential”.  As I say in my recommendation, these changes hit the smaller bargaining units particularly hard given their limited resources and broad geographic disparity.

Electronic voting

Normally a motion such as the one described above would have been voted on by a show of hands at a unit meeting.  Only changes in membership dues or an election of officers must be done by secret ballot.  But in the interest of allowing a greater number of members to participate in the decision (at a time of their choosing) the union decided to conduct this most recent vote by secret electronic ballot.  Although is it the first time the union makes use of this technology it won’t be the last.  Electronic voting is a secure, efficient, and low-cost method of conducting membership votes.  And it can easily be expanded for use to conduct surveys.  Indeed, our goal is to use the system for all membership votes (ratification, national motions and elections such as elections of delegates to conventions to be held next year).  The easier it becomes for members to participate in the decision making process, the more those decisions reflect the views of the members.  It is a goal we all share.

Local 2228 web site

At long last our new web site is “on the air”.  This is a significant achievement for the union because it allows us to communicate with the members more efficiently and effectively.  Our website is a key part of our communication strategy.  I would remind all members that they can contribute to the web site by ...

  • reporting on news and events affecting members;
  • reporting on how local 2228 members are contributing to the community;

  • posting dates, times and locations of important member events such as unit meetings.
I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge those that laid the foundation of our introduction to the internet.  Both Claude Vanasse and Michel Gaulin (and many others) contributed many hours in the development of the old website.

Case management system

In a related technological development we have introduced a web-based case management system for Business Office staff.  Having full-time representatives outside of the Business Office means we need to find ways to communicate the progress of cases.  Meetings and teleconferences are helpful but are not always enough to manage the progress of cases.  Our case management system allows the staff to upload documents to a database and track key dates as we manage the various complaints and grievances.

Computerized case management is a key tool which will allow us to track the number of cases, their type and progress.  Until the introduction of this system, getting up-to-date information on the number of complaints, the nature of the complaints, and other information was very difficult.  Having this information readily available will make it easier to set priorities and focus our attention on the important cases.

This system will also help us understand if we are taking on too much work.  Although we want to help all members to the same degree, this is not possible, realistic or fair.  Just as hospitals must triage the emergency room walk-ins, we must triage our cases as well.  Furthermore, prosecuting important cases more quickly will ensure that employee discontent is fed back to the managers more quickly.  In other words, there are consequences to their actions.

Staff changes

The union's renewal continues with Paul Cameron replacing Ed Fletcher.

Ed was appointed in the summer of 2006.  Ed was principally involved in protecting the union's jurisdiction.  He also assisted many members with classification grievance and grievances related to their job descriptions.  These are difficult cases because they require attention to detail, they take a long time to work their way through the system, and they require a certain mental stamina.  Reviewing one's own work description is difficult enough but reviewing others is even more difficult.  I thank Ed for his many years of service both as an Assistant Business Manager but also a trusted advisor.

Replacing Ed will be Paul Cameron.  Paul has many years as a shop steward and Table Officer (recording secretary).  I’m confident you will be well served by Paul.  Initially, Paul’s responsibilities will be similar to Ed’s but some adjustment may be required in the future.

Financial overview

The Local continues to hold its own financially.  Although we are reporting a modest deficit in 2009, it is hardly unexpected given the level of activity in the last year.  Another factor contributing to the small deficit is several one-times costs associated with changing staff.  We may still see a few more years of additional expenses, but I’m watching this closely. Indeed, more formal planning of major union activities will be a focus of this Executive Board meeting.

A final word

In closing, I wish to send my thanks to all the officers, stewards and staff that helped us achieve these goals.  Local Union leadership is a process of listening, adjusting and more listening.  We’ve been able to accomplish much in the last six months and I’m confident members will see even more improvement in representation before long.

All of which is respectfully submitted,

Business Manager / Financial Secretary