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Business Manager's Report - Fall 2011

Oct 14, 2011

NAV CANADA Collective Bargaining

NAV CANADA bargaining is progressing at an acceptable pace.  The Union and the Company exchanged proposals on August 29.  Our first week of meetings in Montreal went well and we had a productive conversation with the employer on many issues.

Looking forward, two more bargaining sessions are scheduled for the month of November.

Informally at least, our plan is to conclude a collective agreement before the end of the year.

But a word of caution is in order.  First, these things are always difficult to predict.  Any number of factors could interfere with the progress or change the dynamics of the bargaining.

Second, our goal to rebalance the spread between the TEC-1, TEC-2 and TEC-3 wages will require a lot of work and difficult choices.  Your team may be forced to balance the short-term needs of the members with the longer terms needs of the group.

Federal Government Bargaining

There is little to add to this subject other than what has already been reported on our website.

However, we are noticing some patterns emerge.  First, everything the Employer does (or doesn’t do) is driven by the single-minded goal of achieving a significant concession on severance without a mutual and fair payoff for the members.  This has become painfully obvious.  Secondly, the employer is refusing to even negotiate unless the union capitulates on their demands.  This of course we can’t and won’t do.  We have a responsibility to the members to achieve the best possible agreement and capitulation doesn’t achieve that goal.

Third, the Employer, as a side tactic is doing everything they can to delay any kind of settlement regardless of how it is achieved.  By not giving their chief negotiator any mandate to make any meaningful decisions we are stuck meeting with people that have no authority. Finally, the employer’s refusal to respond to our comprehensive package tabled on August 26 simply proves the futility of trying to negotiate an agreement on any issue.  Binding arbitration appears to be the only way out of this impasse.

Case Management Report

In the six month period ending September 30, 2011, the Local opened 17 new cases and closed 3.  The number of open cases increased from 69 to 83.  Here are the highlights of the last six months:

  • The union had a total of 83 cases open among three of its employers, NAV CANADA, Government and Brookfield Power.  For this period, the greatest number of open cases continues to be in the Federal Government with 60 (an increase of 15 from the last period), followed by NAV CANADA with 19 (a drop of one) then Brookfield power with the remaining cases.
  • The average time taken to resolve complaints and grievances has increased from 263 to 356 days.
  • The majority of cases we manage involve long-term and complex issues: discrimination, harassment, jurisdictional battles before the labour board, staffing complaints in the Public Service and so on.
  • Grievances related to the interpretation of the collective agreement are the minority but on the rise in the Federal Government as this employer seeks to try and save money by reinterpreting your collective agreement.

On a positive note, we are making some progress on a few cases one of which has been open for several years.  The Federal Government has effectively conceded the Sea Trials case and we are now determining who is owed what.  In another win, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed an application for judicial review filed by the Employer.  We successfully argued before the PSLRB that a person in Health Canada was performing EL work.  That decision will now stand as a result of the federal court’s decision.

Membership Statistics

Membership levels with the union’s two main employers (NAV CANADA and Federal Government) have remained relatively constant from March 2011 to October 2011 currently standing at 1795.  This is a small drop from the previous six month period.  Although not a cause for concern in itself, we will have to watch these numbers more closely.  This is particularly true given the possibility of reductions in the Federal Government.

Financial Overview

The Local continues to be in reasonable financial health.  Although there is a slight downward trend in our net assets we end the first half of the year with the same asset level as the beginning of the year.

Some of the factors that affect our finances include the time required to negotiate a collective agreement.  For example, face-to-face meetings with the employer cost several hundred dollars per day per negotiating team member. And as long as members see no increase in pay the union sees no increase in revenue.  We are trying to mitigate these costs by making sure our face-time with the employer is as productive as possible.

In an effort to put more focus on the future, the Local has adopted a 5-year rolling financial plan.

A 5-year plan will significantly improve our able to plan and make decisions beyond the current year.  One of the challenges we face are the large swings of expenses in any given year and from year to year.  Our longer term outlook helps minimize the distractions caused by short-term fluctuations.  A 5-year plan will greatly improve our ability to plan activities and manage your money.

Respectfully submitted,