Business Manager's Report to the Executive Board
Federal Government Bargaining
Our negotiations with Treasury Board are well underway. This past August we tabled our proposals and received a partial package of the employer’s proposals. This was already reported on the Local’s web site and won’t be repeated here. Our first face-to-face bargaining session took place in September and the outcome of that meeting was also reported on the Local’s website.
This round of bargaining is creating a great deal of anxiety within the group and much of it is justified. After all, the employer is asking our members to give up a valuable benefit (paid sick leave) in exchange for nothing. Indeed, worse than nothing because the employer also wants to exercise full control over a short-term disability plan. This is totally unacceptable. Short-term disability is an appropriate subject for bargaining and we believe it should be freely negotiated at the bargaining table.
Whatever the employer does, the Local will continue to bargain in good faith and we expect the employer to do the same. Sick leave may be a concern for the Treasury Board but we have our concerns which deserve as much attention. We are working with the Treasury Board to coordinate dates for our next meeting likely to occur early in the New Year.
Federal Government – Designated Employees
As previously reported, the EL group no longer has access to binding arbitration as a dispute resolution process. Recent changes to the Public Service Labour Relations Act (the “Act”) force the group into conciliation-strike dispute resolution process. Part of this process requires the employer to consult with the union on the number of designated employees required to ensure the safety the public.
The vast majority of ELs work in three departments: DND (National Defence), IND (Industry Canada) and DFO (Fisheries and Oceans - Coast Guard). Two of three (DND and IND) thought carefully about the number of employees required to ensure the safety and security of the public. The last did not. DFO gave absolutely no thought to this and demanded that 100% of the working level technologists remain working during a strike. In other words, business as usual.
The wording of the Act makes it impossible to challenge these arbitrary and unreasonable decisions so we are stuck with a significant number of members working during a strike and no access to binding arbitration.
Our last legal strike was in 1972. None of the members that participated in the strike are in the group today. So we are starting from scratch and preparing a strike handbook for members and union officers. The outcome of bargaining is in the hands of the members and we owe them as much information and support as we can provide.
NAV CANADA Drug and Alcohol Policy
Consultations with NAV CANADA on their Drug and Alcohol Policy have essentially wrapped up. The Policy, expected to be rolled out in early 2015, will clarify an employee’s responsibility with respect to drug and alcohol use while employed with NAV CANADA. The Policy has been extensively reviewed by the Local and its counsel. Our concerns as they relate to members on standby for long periods of time have been addressed to our satisfaction. I foresee few problems regarding the application of this policy as long as management follows the procedures outlined in the document.
NAV CANADA’s Code of Conduct
We are seeing a disturbing (but hopefully temporary) trend with respect to the application of NAV CANADA’s “Code of Business Conduct” (the “Code”). The fact that such a code exists is not a problem. Most sophisticated employers have these kinds of policies and as long as they are used appropriately, the Local takes no issue with their content or use. However, there are signs that the Code is becoming NAV CANADA’s “go to” reason disciplining our members. For example, our members are being called into meetings for reasons as vague as “disrespectful behavior” (whatever that means).
The problem isn’t that NAV CANADA is asking our members to behave respectfully. The problem is this: how do you defend a member who is alleged to have behaved disrespectfully? What does that even mean?
I suggest the problem may be temporary because I expressed my concerns to NAV CANADA about this kind of blanket discipline. There is general agreement that reasons for discipline should be specific (i.e theft of company time, insubordination, etc). However, time will tell whether or not the message gets to the field. In the meantime, the Business Office will monitor this closely and support the filing grievances whenever necessary.
Comings and Goings
The Local’s Executive Board saw a lot of turn-over in the last six months. As previously reported, Brothers Dan Dawson and Paul Wright have stepped down as Local Union President and Vice-President respectively. Dave Cupples was appointed President for the remainder of the term and a search is underway to find a Vice-President. Jason Pembleton, Executive Board member for Region 4, also stepped down and was replaced by Kirk Ali who was sworn in at the October Executive Board meeting.
I want to thank all outgoing Officers for their hard work and dedication. Union Officers have a difficult task. The challenges they face as officers are far different from the challenges faced in their day-to-day work. Making the transition is not easy and their efforts should be lauded by all.
I want to close my report with a special thanks to Dan Dawson. Because of him, we have a much more active unit structure in many parts of the country. Members communicating with each other regularly is key to any union’s success. Dan’s legacy will be felt for years to come. He truly believed in the Union of Hearts and Minds. Thank you Dan.
Daniel J Boulet
Business Manager / Financial Secretary