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Federal Government Bargaining Conference Wraps Up

Apr 8, 2014

Twenty-five federal government Local Union members, stewards, representatives and officers met for a two-day conference on collective bargaining. The conference included presentations on Bill C‑4, short-term disability plans, and alternatives to the current sick leave model.

Mr Jim Shields, counsel for Local 2228, highlighted the changes to the PSLRA as a result of Bill C-4. This bill completely changes the bargaining landscape for our members.  Federal public service unions will no longer be able to choose their dispute resolution process (strike vs. arbitration).  Indeed, it is very likely members of Local 2228 will be forced into a conciliation-strike process given the threshold to access binding arbitration is to have 80% of the members designated.

Mr Joe Zadzora, a consultant with Coughlin and Associates, outlined the operation of short-term disability plans.  It’s no secret the Treasury Board will be pushing hard in the next round of bargaining replace the current credit-based sick leave system with a combination of sick leave and short-term disability.  Of course, no details have been provided to us and we’ll have to wait until bargaining actually begins before seeing the details of the employer's proposal.

In the same vein, the group examined the current sick leave program in place at NAV CANADA.  IBEW and NAV CANADA eliminated the credit-based system in our first round of free collective bargaining with the company.  Although existing employees keep their sick leave balances, new employees have no such balance.  Instead, all employees now have access to a minimum of 65 days of sick leave at 100% of salary in a 12 month period regardless of their years of service.

Finally, among other things the group suggested the following next steps as part of a communication and action plan:

  • Meetings at major work centers to discuss the issues raised at the conference (including Bill C-4) and collective bargaining in general.
  • Informal survey of members to gather feedback and supplement information received through the Bargaining Proposal Manager.
  • Begin developing a strike plan.  If the members are being forced into that process then proper planning is essential.

This is only the first step to building solidarity and you can expect more news to following in the coming weeks and months as your fellow members mobilize to protect your rights.

In solidarity,

Daniel J Boulet
Business Manager / Financial Secretary