Important information for SSO Members

July 2, 2020

UNE recently became aware that the Employer started reducing field interviewers’ 3rd quarter Average Work Weeks (AWWs) starting July 1, 2020. This situation could apply to many field interviewers and regional office employees throughout all 3 regions.

To minimize the financial impact, employees are encouraged to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) if they earn $1000 a month or less.

Please ensure that you apply for the CERB through either Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), not both. Before applying for the CERB, please check if you are eligible to receive it.

UNE and PSAC remain in close contact with the Employer to provide you with the latest updates on this evolving situation.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact a member of your Local Executive:

UNE Locals with SSO members – Field Interviewers
UNE Locals with SSO members – Regional Offices

Gaps remain in government’s return to workplace plan

June 26, 2020

This week, the government released its guidelines for federal public service workers to return to the office as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease across the country. The plan doesn’t outline when employees will be asked to return to the workplace, instead leaving it up to each department to gradually transition their staff based on a series of conditions that must first be met.

Treasury Board has implemented a number of PSAC’s recommendations, including a clear acknowledgement that collective agreements will be respected, recognition that improving access to mental health support is necessary, and that health and safety committees and unions will be consulted.

The guidelines also acknowledge that many workers won’t be able to return to the office until they have access to important services like child care and schools for their children. Further, they recognize other important preconditions like the availability of PPE; the ability to prepare and maintain a clean and safe physical space; and the coordination mechanisms needed to plan, supervise and monitor the transition.

PSAC has some concerns with the current guidelines:

  • Since department heads will oversee the return to workplaces, there is a risk that the guidelines will not be followed consistently across the federal public service. Local managers should not be allowed to create unequal working conditions between departments.
  • We want to make sure that appropriate scientific experts are determining whether worksites are safe and what personal protective equipment is required – not local managers
  • We expect workers to get at least two weeks’ notice before they’re asked to return to the workplace.
  • There was little about consulting employment equity committees on issues related to return to the workplace for designated groups, including people with disabilities. We urged the government to commit to a process that takes into account COVID-19’s impact on diverse groups such as women, racialized workers, LGBTQ2+ workers, Indigenous workers and those with disabilities.

Until there is a vaccine, keeping both our members and the public safe means allowing employees to work remotely for as long as needed, and ensuring workplaces have all the appropriate safety measures in place should they return to the workplace.

New telework policy?

As he announced the new guidelines, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said that one lesson learned from the pandemic is that it’s possible and perhaps practical for some public servants to work from home permanently. He added that the government has started reflecting on the number of offices and office spaces that they want over the next few years.

COVID-19 has created an opportunity to rethink telework in the federal public service, but changes to our members’ working conditions must be negotiated with our union in full consultation with the membership.

Source: PSAC

For the Public Good: The growing threat of privatization and workers’ proposals to protect our future

PSAC has been one of several unions participating in the Canadian Labour Congress’ Task Force on New Forms of Privatization. On June 25, the Task Force has released its report For the Public Good: The growing threat of privatization and workers’ proposals to protect our future.

The report is the culmination of a thorough analysis of new forms of privatization, in particular social impact bonds (SIBs), pension fund and investor participation in privatized infrastructure, and new federal agencies that motivate and support privatization of services and infrastructure. Which by any measure, should be fully within the public sector in order to serve the public interest. These agencies – The Canada Infrastructure Bank, FinDev Canada, and the Social Finance Fund, along with more traditional forms of privatization, all contribute to the growing instability in public services, at a time when we, more than ever, need a robust public service to ensure competent and effective services for Canadians.

While largely written prior to the COVID19 pandemic, the report does raise the critical role that public services have had in Canada’s response to the crisis. Public sector workers – PSAC members – have been doing this critical work across the country – at the control hub of the response at the Public Health Agency of Canada, in food plants ensuring our food is safe, at our borders and our airports, delivering emergency benefits to workers and to businesses, developing and testing vaccines and treatments.

In some sectors, privatization has resulted in devastating loss of life. We only need to look at the privatized Long-Term Care homes to see the very real, and very tragic results when profit comes before people.

The report outlines a hopeful path forward, bringing public services back in house, and furthering best practices for publicly funded, built and maintained infrastructure that will be critical to not only the recovery from the economic crisis stemming from the COVID19 pandemic, but will also be instrumental in better weathering future crises, whether pandemics, climate change or other.

Help with Phoenix Pay Issues

In recent months, everyone has been overwhelmed by the changes in their work and home life because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, thousands of public service workers are still faced with old and new Phoenix pay problems.

We want to remind all PSAC members of the resources they have available from their employer as well as from their union – and their ability to claim expenses they are owed.

Follow this step-by-step guide if you are experiencing pay issues.

1. Speak to your manager (current employees)

Once you are certain that a pay issue has occurred, the first step is to contact your section 34 manager. Explain to your manager when the problem happened and the nature of the issue.

You may expect your manager to guide you through your department’s human resource (HR) process and identify the best options available for your issue. Three courses of action are possible:

  1. Contacting the Public Service Pay Centre (PSPC)
  2. Submitting a pay action request (PAR)
  3. Submitting a Phoenix feedback form

Proactively follow-up with your manager to ensure they have completed all critical tasks to advance your casefile with the Public Service Pay Centre. Once your pay action request is received by the pay centre, you can track its progress by using the Track myCASE web application.

2. Contact your union (current and former employees)

If you are experiencing delays processing your Phoenix pay issues, the Public Service Alliance of Canada will escalate issues with the PSPC Client Service Bureau on your behalf.

Review the suggested courses of action for each pay issue scenario or get in touch with our pay issue specialists through our general inquiries form. Select Phoenix pay issue from the What is your inquiry about? drop down menu. A member of our team will contact you with updates as soon as they become available.

3. Claim out-of-pocket expenses

You may be eligible to make a claim if you have incurred out-of-pocket expenses because of Phoenix pay problems. Eligible expenses include banking fees for non-sufficient funds (NSF), financial penalty charges, interest payments, tax expenses, and more. Submit an expense claim online or contact your departmental claims officer for help with this process.

Learn more about PSAC’s negotiations for fair compensation for the harm done by Phoenix or visit our Phoenix landing page for other updates.

Source: http://psacunion.ca/get-help-phoenix-pay-issues

Bargaining to resume for 100,000 PSAC members

After months of pressure from PSAC and its members, the federal government has agreed to return to the bargaining table. Negotiations for 70,000 federal public service workers in the PA group – PSAC’s largest bargaining unit – will resume with Treasury Board June 23 to July 3. It will include Treasury Board common issues and Phoenix damages.

Bargaining will also resume for nearly 30,000 PSAC-UTE members at Canada Revenue Agency the week of July 6.

“Elsewhere in Canada, the need to provide stability and fair compensation to public service workers during this pandemic was recognized months ago – provinces, municipalities and large employers across the country have been negotiating and settling contracts,” said PSAC National President Chris Aylward. “It’s high time the federal government did the same for their employees.”

Throughout the pandemic, PSAC members have been on the front lines battling the virus and delivering emergency financial support to millions of Canadians. They continue to provide critical services despite not having a new contract or wage increases in up to four years.

They also continue to endure Phoenix pay issues and have yet to be fairly compensated for their financial hardships.

“The government has clearly listened to the more than 15,000 PSAC members who wrote to them in recent weeks urging Treasury Board to get back to the table,” said Aylward. “It shouldn’t take that kind of pressure to get back to negotiations, but I’m grateful to our members for supporting our bargaining teams in such large numbers.”

“And it’s a welcome change to see the government – during National Public Service Week no less – move from kind words about our members, to action,” added Aylward. “Now they have to show up with a mandate to reach a fair settlement without any more delays.”

Updates for other Treasury Board bargaining units will be coming soon.

June is National Indigenous History Month

By Michael Freeman

June, In Canada, is celebrated as National Indigenous History Month. Indigenous Peoples have lived and thrived in the territory that is now known as North America for millennia. Oh, people may argue with the exact timeline but oral history and traditional knowledge are all that We, the Original Peoples, need as substantiation.

National Indigenous History Month is a time for remembering, a time for learning, a time for celebrating, a time for healing, a time for growth, a time of unification, a time of reconciliation, a time of hope and a time for like-minded peoples to come together to be stronger in unity.

Indigenous Peoples within Canada (defined as Aboriginal, Metis, Inuit) have had a diverse history and a unique experience coast to coast to coast, interrupted, complicated and forever altered by the arrival of explorers and immigration to this land. The struggle to coexist has been the foundation of a fluid relationship fluctuating from confrontational, at the worst of times, to one of pride and celebration, at the best of times.

Through your own search and study, explore the rich history of Indigenous Peoples. Be sure to research a good mix of historical documents, treaty documents, policy and documents of reconciliation. There are many current Indigenous authors and a wealth of their works to keep you connected, reading and learning for many weeks and months to come. Do not fall into the trap of reading only the history tomes written by non-Indigenous authors and filtered through their non-Indigenous lenses.

Due to the current pandemic affecting every aspect of society, many of the gatherings, celebrations and ceremonies planned in honour and recognition of the rich and storied history of Indigenous Peoples have been postponed or cancelled. Look to the virtual experience as you explore the many web portals available.

It is time to loose the bondage of the undercurrent of racism, in this country, against Indigenous Peoples. Become part of the solution, if you are not already, by committing to understanding the true relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples and actively working to improve it. Dig deeper than the spectacular layers of pageantry and the ignorant layers of the stereotypical.

Be curious. Be teachable. Be willing to learn. Be open to new ideas. But above all, enjoy the experience.

Michael Freeman is the UNE’s National Equity Representative for Persons with Disabilities, member of the EB Bargaining Team, President of UNE Local 00128, and a teacher and policy writer for ISC on the Six Nations Reservation in Ontario.

 

 

PSAC-Prairies and UNE urge the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to not extend Mr. Young’s term as CEO

Dear Minister Guilbeault,

We have no doubt that you have been made aware of the recent disclosure by former employees of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg that they experienced ongoing and systemic racism and harassment while working at this institution.

As the union representing 160 members employed at the CMHR, this came as no surprise to any of us. Our union Local Executive has been raising the issue repeatedly for several years. And recently, because management was not acknowledging or taking any action, our bargaining team tabled a proposal for mandatory anti-harassment, anti- discrimination training for all staff. As evidence of management’s refusal to take this matter seriously, the proposal was rejected.

Recently in response to media reports, the CEO, John Young, stated that “the level of concern raised on social media comes as a surprise to many people working at the museum”. This was no surprise to management and in particular the CEO.

The response that administration will reach out to staff and volunteers to listen to their experiences and concerns is, at best, a weak response that does not show the employer taking a stand against racism and harassment in a toxic workplace.

We understand the Mr. Young’s appointment as CEO is due to expire on August 16, 2020. Minister Guilbeault, for the well-being of the employees and to ensure the institution is on a path to restore their credibility, we urge you to not extend Mr. Young’s term as CEO of the CMHR.

We can tell you that “discussions” with staff following the social media posts were in no way sincere and there is absolutely no confidence among staff that the management team of the CMHR, under the direction of Mr. Young, understand or appreciate the seriousness of the situation.

The official mandate of the CMHR is:

“… to explore the subject of human rights, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, in order to enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others, and to encourage reflection and dialogue.”

Our members are so very dedicated and proud of the work they do but feel that what is happening behind closed doors is hypocritical to the mandate. Unfortunately, over the years, staff have chosen to leave quietly instead of going public so as to preserve the integrity of the institution. Minister Guilbeault, we urge you to not extend Mr. Young’s term and to ensure that any potential candidates for appointment as CEO have the skills necessary to ensure that appropriate actions are taken immediately to begin the process of restoring trust with employees and confidence with the Canadian public.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Marianne Hladun
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies

Kevin King
National President
Union of National Employees

PSAC Local 50773 Executive

PDF icon Letter to Minister Guilbeault_CMHR

Reflections on National Indigenous Peoples Day

By Lenora Maracle

We have watched the public reaction to racial injustice and police brutality, we must acknowledge our own history of colonialism and the injustices that have taken place and continue today. In communities across the country, people suffer from forms of discrimination.

I want to acknowledge those who endure the effects of racism and the people who support them. So many of us are hurting and angry that cannot and should not be ignored by current events.

I stand in support of Black people, Indigenous people, People of Colour (BIPOC) and the 2SLGBTQ+, as well as people living with disabilities or limitations of any kind. I will participate in the fight against racism, oppression and marginalization.

The one-year anniversary of the release of the final report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was earlier this month. We remember and honour the daughters, mothers, grandmothers, aunties and 2SLGBTQ+people who were taken away from us, and the survivors and family and community members whose lives have been changed forever.

Colonization often leaves its mark on Indigenous populations in a way not visible to the Canadian eye.

It becomes necessary for us to connect those dots for mainstream society; to point out that suicide rates and addictions can be rooted in trauma reaching back generations. And that Indigenous languages, culture and ceremony exist today in spite of that historical trauma.

We are a resilient people. Resilience is the inner strength that helps individuals bounce back and carry on in the face of adversity. Aboriginal identity, land, culture and history are resilience.

Resilience is in Aboriginal communities.

Aboriginal people need to reclaim their traditional culture, redefine themselves as a people of their territory and reassert their distinct identity. This is decolonization.

And we need to heal. To do this we need to learn how to learn and begin a journey to wellness that involves self-care. We need to understand the forces of history that have shaped present day lifestyles. We need to discover, name and transmit indigenous knowledge, values and ways of knowing, all the while understanding selected Western ways. We need to apply and adapt both indigenous and Western knowledge, values and ways of knowing to address challenges in today’s society.

In the Mohawk Language ‘Kanaronkwa’ means love but of an intense feeling of affection and care towards another person, this how I feel for my indigenous brothers and sisters.

Onen

 

Lenora Maracle is the UNE’s National Equity Representative for Aboriginal Peoples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Message from the UNE National President on National Public Service Week

Members of the UNE Family,

This week is National Public Service Week (NPSW). Its goal is to “recognize the value of the services rendered by federal public service employees” and to “acknowledge the contribution of federal public service employees to the federal administration.”

Since the COVID-19 outbreak started, our members have been exemplary and stepped up to the plate and made sure federal public services were delivered. Whether our members are performing critical work or working remotely from their homes, they adapted quickly to an unprecedented situation.

Many of our members under federal jurisdiction are still attempting to negotiate a fair and just collective agreement including separate employers members, Treasury Board members at the Program and Administrative Services (PA), Operational Services (SV), Technical Services (TC), and Education and Library Science (EB) bargaining tables, Parks Canada members, and Statistical Survey Operations (SSO) members.

UNE members have been here for Canada during the pandemic, so we expect the Government of Canada to be there for them, if they truly value their workforce, and return to the bargaining table.

Respectfully and in Solidarity,

Kevin King
UNE National President