Changes to 699 leave: PSAC to take further legal action

October 29, 2020

PSAC is filing a second policy grievance against Treasury Board for its most recent discriminatory changes to 699 leave that will force federal workers to exhaust all other leave – including sick leave and vacation leave – before they can request “other leave with pay” for COVID-19-related reasons.  

For the past eight months, federal public service workers have been giving their all to help Canadians grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. PSAC members have been unwavering in their dedication despite the physical risks for those doing front-line work, in additional to ongoing school and daycare closures, and the extra burden of taking care of vulnerable family members.  

In some cases, workers have been forced to use 699 leave when they simply could not work remotely because of child care or elder care responsibilities, including waiting in long lines for COVID-19 testing. 

Despite the modest use of 699 leave, in May Treasury Board changed the guidelines on 699 leave to restrict how public service workers use “other leave with pay” to fulfil childcare needs related to COVID-19. 

PSAC warned Treasury Board that tightening the guidelines would discriminate against marginalized groups, potentially lead to serious human rights violations and violate members’ collective agreements. Workers have a right to use 699 leave because we negotiated it into collective agreements; it cannot be taken away at the whim of managers. 

They didn’t listen.  

Shortly thereafter, PSAC filed a policy grievance against Treasury Board on the grounds that the revised policy disproportionately impacts women, people with disabilities and people with family obligations.  

New policy forces members to exhaust all other leave 

Even before PSAC’s first hearing date with the Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board, Treasury Board doubled down on their restrictions around 699 leave, revising their policy to state that 699 leave could only be considered if workers have depleted all other paid leave available to them, even if they are suffering from COVID-19 symptoms or are unable to work because of child care or family obligations.  

PSAC will therefore be filing another policy grievance for the latest 699 leave policy changes that come into effect on November 9.  

Every day, parents are pulling their sick kids out of schools and daycares and will be forced to use up their vacation and sick leave. Workers caring for elderly relatives must make the impossible choice of putting their loved ones at risk if they go to work and bring COVID-19 home with them. These changes violate both members’ collective agreements and the Canadian Human Rights Act based on family status, sex and disability. The Canadian Human Rights Commission also plans to make submissions on behalf of federal public service workers.  

Without the availability of a vaccine, and with many parts of Canada experiencing a second wave of the pandemic, Treasury Board’s proposed changes are premature and do not reflect the current reality of this public health crisis and its mental health impacts on public service workers. 

PSAC is committed to ensuring that our members, and in particular, women, caregivers and those with disabilities, continue to have the necessary support and leave with pay they need during the pandemic. 

Source: http://psacunion.ca/changes-699-leave-psac-take-further-legal-action

PSAC and Treasury Board sign PA, TC and Phoenix deals

PSAC and Treasury Board today signed new collective agreements for the Program and Administrative (PA) and Technical Services (TC) groups that were ratified by members on September 29. The two bargaining units account for over 80,000 federal public service workers. PSAC and Treasury Board also signed the Phoenix damages agreement reached this summer. 

Separately, the parties signed the protocol agreement on the negotiation of working conditions for civilian members in the RCMP who are slated to be deemed into PSAC bargaining units. 

Implementation period begins for PA and TC groups 

The formal signing of the agreements today means that with the exception of monetary provisions, which are retroactive, new contract terms are in effect. Treasury Board now has 180 days to implement wage increases, wage adjustments and allowances. As explained in the contract ratification kits, in view of this extended implementation timeline which is normally 90 days, PSAC negotiated a $500 lump sum payment for members into these new contracts. 

Phoenix settlement implementation 

PSAC expects Treasury Board to pay Phoenix general damages (i.e., the $2,500 lump sum) within the abovementioned 180-day collective agreement implementation period. Furthermore, information on how current and former members who have suffered severe losses due to the Phoenix pay system can claim additional compensation will be provided by Treasury Board in the coming months. We will continue pressing the government for an efficient implementation of this settlement. 

Other bargaining units 

Members in the Education and Library Science (EB), Operations Services (SV) and PSAC-UTE (Canada Revenue Agency) groups also recently ratified their tentative agreements. PSAC is working with Treasury Board to finalize the text and pay grids of the new agreements and expects to sign the new deals in the coming weeks.  

Members in the Parks and CFIA bargaining units have until November 4 to vote for their tentative agreements. 

* * *

Please keep your contact information up to date via the member portal to continue receiving information about implementation of collective agreements and the Phoenix settlement. 

Source: http://psacunion.ca/psac-and-treasury-board-sign-pa-tc-and-phoenix

Legal battle begins to protect use of 699 leave during the pandemic

October 16, 2020

PSAC’s legal challenge against Treasury Board’s regressive and discriminatory changes to 699 leave for federal public service workers is set to begin October 19.  

In June, PSAC filed a policy grievance after the government tightened its guidelines around when public service workers can use “Other Leave with Pay” (699 leave) to fulfill child care needs during the pandemic.  

The new policy fails to recognize that some parents may have to keep their children at home for legitimate reasons despite the availability of schools or child care. For example, some parents may choose to keep their children at home to protect members of their household who suffer from underlying health conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19 symptoms.  

PSAC will meet with the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board in order to determine the scope of the policy grievance and set dates for the hearing.  

PSAC made it clear that the new policy adversely impacts women who continue to bear a disproportionate burden of domestic responsibilities including child care, eldercare and household operations. It could also result in discriminatory outcomes for people with disabilities and people with family obligations, violating both members’ collective agreements and the Canadian Human Rights Act based on family status, sex and disability. The Canadian Human Rights Commission has also notified the Board that it intends on making submissions on this issue. 

The proposed policy amendments would result in a patchwork of unfair outcomes for public service workers and give managers too much discretion in applying the policy.  

PSAC pushes back against the use of sick leave for COVID-19 

PSAC will also be contesting language in the policy that says employees who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who self-isolate would be required to use available sick leave instead of 699 leave if they are unable to work.  

This egregious change to the policy is discriminatory to public service workers and flies in the face of sound public health advice. Without the availability of a vaccine, and with many parts of Canada entering a second wave of the pandemic, Treasury Board’s proposed changes are premature and inconsistent with the current public health crisis.  

There is also no evidence that employees have abused 699 leave during the pandemic. In fact, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has reported that 699 leave in the federal public service has been used modestly and cost very little. And as departments adapted to working from home, the number of employees forced to use 699 leave dropped by 84 per cent from April to June.  

PSAC is committed to ensuring that our members, and in particular, women, caregivers and those with disabilities, continue to have the necessary support and leave with pay they need during the pandemic. 

Source: http://psacunion.ca/legal-battle-begins-protect-use-699-leave-during?_ga=2.93968989.1519805114.1603113136-1121130890.1580157739

Women’s History Month

When approached to do this article for Women’s History Month, I pondered writing it solely from the perspective of a woman, which is my undeniable fact, but how can I write only from this vantage point, when I am also a BLACK WOMAN, and that too is an undeniable fact. My own personal intersectionality reads like the characters out of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the literary knife and fork, like my duality, inseparable and interchangeable.

As I sit to write, I acknowledge to you my gender and my equity, my knife and my fork. Each day, every day, I live with the barriers and challenges of sexism and racism, for this too is my intersectionality; being black and being a woman are both of my identities. I cannot ever stop thinking about racism, it is not a choice, it is my reality.

I have been preoccupied with thoughts of injustices, heightened after the deaths of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, Breonna Taylor and of course, who could forget, the brutal and inhumane murder of George Floyd. I watched (as we all did), in horror as he gasped for air and begged for mercy, all 8 minutes and 46 seconds of “reality television”, one that could easily be my reality.

This year the theme for Women’s History Month is #becauseofyou, I have been mulling this over in my mind and wondering how this translates into my life, not only as a woman, but also as a black woman. Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) states, “This year’s theme… is inspired by those here in Canada and around the world who work to advance gender equality in their communities”. Somehow, this is not relatable to me and does not seem to include my lived experiences, not in the way I think it is intended. I work in my community, in my union, trying to always bring and utilize the lens of my equity as a woman while challenged by my equity of my race. Most times, I feel that I am failing my community, failing to do enough. Racism against blacks have cornered me into a reality that encompasses:

#becauseofyou I am fearful

#becauseofyou I feel silenced

#becauseofyou I feel powerless

#becauseofyou I feel hopeless

#becauseofyou It is unsafe to stand up for my rights

#becauseofyou I feel ignored

#becauseofyou I am invisible

#becauseofyou I am hyper-vigilant

#becauseofyou I am angry and hurt

In this climate of racial unrest, many women, mothers, nurturers are fighting the effects of emotional fatigue, having to face the new and revisit the old, as attempts are made to navigate the landscape of those now “woke” and demanding change. It is difficult to get people of privilege to care, care after the protests are over, the coalitions have disbanded, the hashtags are no longer trending on Twitter and the social media pages have shut down.

How do you get them to continue to care and remain invested when no one is looking and notoriety is nowhere in site?

As activists, the term ‘’safe spaces” is bandied about but it is those who have privilege that are positioned to create said safe spaces destined for those of us who find ourselves struggling for and demanding equality. It is in this way that they have the best of both worlds, with the choice to hang up their walking shoes, their activism apparel and retire into their own achievements. This simply does not exist for the Black woman.

The privileged amongst us are able to wield the baton of allyship, a privilege that can be used as an advantage or they can simply choose to walk away. For me, I am unable to leave my blackness at the door, just as much as I am unable to dismiss the very nature of my womanhood. Despite the inherent conflict that my intersectionality creates, it also enables the re-creation of one’s own perception of gender and race, my very own Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

#becauseofyou I will be strong

#becauseofyou I will not give up the fight/struggle

#becauseofyou I will be determined

#becauseofyou I will not silence my voice

#becauseofyou I will stand up for what is right

Hayley Millington
UNE National Equity Representative for Racially Visible People

SV members ratify new tentative agreement

October 5, 2020

PSAC members in the Operational Services (SV) bargaining unit have voted in favour of their tentative agreement. The unit represents nearly 10,000 federal public service workers who have gone above and beyond to support Canadians during this pandemic. 

The new collective agreement covers the 2018-2021 period and provides fair wages, no concessions and improved working conditions. 

“I am proud of the elected members of our bargaining teams for their unwavering dedication during this round of talks,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President. “Thanks to their hard work and the solidarity shown by thousands of members across the country, we were able to negotiate a fair deal. We’re now in a strong position to build on these improvements in the next round of bargaining.” 

Next Steps 

In the coming weeks, PSAC will meet with Treasury Board representatives to sign the new collective agreement. With the exception of monetary provisions, which are retroactive, new contract terms come into effect on the date of signing. 

The employer has 180 days from the signing of the contract to implement wage increases, wage adjustments and allowances. As explained in the ratification kits, in view of this extended implementation timeline, PSAC negotiated a $500 lump sum payment into all contracts. 

PSAC will update members when the contract is signed. Please keep your contact information up to date via the member portal

Parks, CFIA and FB group 

Members in the Parks and CFIA units vote between October 5 and November 4. 

Members in the Border Services (FB) unit are still in talks. 

Source: http://psacunion.ca/sv-members-ratify-new-tentative-agreement

UNE Supports the moderate livelihood fishery of the L’nu

Indian beadwork

Between 1725 and 1761, the L’nu, also known as the Mi’kmaq, signed treaties of peace and friendship with representatives of the British crown.  These treaties did not cede lands and included the right to harvest natural resources to support a moderate livelihood.  These treaties have not always been upheld by the crown, as evidenced by the arrest of Donald Marshall Jr. in 1993 for catching and selling $787.10 worth of eels. 

Marshall, who had been recognized in 1990 by a royal commission that identified racism as a factor in his wrongful imprisonment for murder, went to the Supreme Court to uphold his fishing rights. The 1999 Marshall decision affirmed Mi’kmaw treaty rights to a moderate livelihood from hunting and fishing. The Supreme Court clarified their decision later that year by stating that the treaty rights were still subject to government regulation. 

In September 2020, the Sipekne’katik First Nation, frustrated by the lack of recognition for their treaty rights in federal fisheries legislation, launched their own self-managed lobster fishery with licenses for 350 traps. The seven small boats were met by commercial fishers in larger boats who harassed them, stole, or cut loose their traps and vandalized their boats. While the commercial fishers’ representatives cited conservation issues, many racist taunts were heard on the waters and seen on social media. The Sipekne’katik lobster fishery represents about 0.1% of lobster harvesting in their area, and their off-season harvesting is not considered to be a conservation issue by fisheries experts. 

Similar conflicts have been happening in Mi’kma’ki since the Marshall decision 21 years ago, with federal officials and law enforcement failing to intervene in many cases. 

The Union of National Employees (UNE) recognizes that we are all treaty people and encourages our members in the Atlantic Region and across Canada to uphold treaty rights. October is Mi’kmaq History Month.

Helen Zebedee
UNE Regional Representative for Human Rights, Atlantic

Orange Shirt Day

Native People and non-native people of Canada will be honouring the Indigenous residential school survivors and remember those who did not survive by wearing orange shirts. Orange Shirt Day was started in 2013. It was created to educate people and promote awareness about the Indian residential school system and the impact this system had on Indigenous communities for more than a century in Canada, and still does today.

The Orange shirt has become the symbol of overcoming adversity. Why orange? Because of Phyllis Jack Webstad from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, who went to St. Joseph Mission Residential School. On her first day of school, Phyllis wore a new orange shirt that her grandmother had given her. It was immediately taken away, and that was the start of Phyllis’s alienation from her family and community, a genocide caused by actions of the church and the federal government.

Many Indigenous children, about thirty percent of indigenous children were sent to Residential Schools. Students were taught English and punished for speaking their Native language. However, Canada‘s residential (boarding) schools inadequately preparing students to live in white society or to return to their reserves. Europeans main goal was to “Kill the Indian in the Child”.

Orange Shirt Day is a time for us all to remember those events and to make aware to mainstream society what happened to Indigenous children because it is not in the history books, and the intergenerational effects on today’s indigenous population. This day shows the continuing strength and resilience of Indigenous peoples.

Lenora Maracle
UNE National Equity Representative for Aboriginal Peoples

PSAC members ratify new agreements with Treasury Board and CRA

September 29, 2020

A majority of PSAC members in the Program and Administrative (PA)Technical Services (TC)Education and Library Science (EB), and PSAC-UTE (Canada Revenue Agency) bargaining units have voted in favour of their respective tentative agreements. The four units represent nearly 110,000 federal public service workers who have gone above and beyond to support Canadians during this pandemic. 

The new collective agreements for the PA, TC and EB groups cover the 2018-2021 period, while the new PSAC-UTE collective agreement covers the 2016-2021 period. All agreements provide for fair wages, no concessions and improved working conditions. 

“I am proud of the elected members of our bargaining teams for their unwavering dedication during this round of talks,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President. “Thanks to their hard work and the solidarity shown by thousands of members across the country, we were able to negotiate a fair deal. We’re now in a strong position to build on these improvements in the next round of bargaining.” 

Next Steps 

In the coming weeks, PSAC will meet with Treasury Board and CRA representatives to sign the new collective agreements. With the exception of monetary provisions, which are retroactive, new contract terms come into effect on the date of signing. 

Both employers have 180 days from the signing of the contracts to implement wage increases, wage adjustments and allowances. As explained in the ratification kits, in view of this extended implementation timeline, PSAC negotiated a $500 lump sum payment into all contracts. 

PSAC will update members when contracts are signed. Please keep your contact information up to date via the member portal

SV group, Parks, CFIA and FB group 

Members in the Operational Services (SV) group have until October 5 to vote on their new contract while those in the Parks and CFIA units will vote between October 5 and November 4. 

Members in the Border Services (FB) unit are still in talks. 

Source: http://psacunion.ca/psac-members-ratify-new-agreements-treasury-0?_ga=2.24802298.1979735453.1601403743-722671214.1553177201

Register to cast your ballot in Parks Canada and CFIA ratification votes

September 28, 2020

The Parks Canada Agency and Canada Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) bargaining teams have reached tentative agreements with their employers, and PSAC members will now have the opportunity to vote on their new collective agreements.  PSAC has organized ratification votes between October 5 to November 4 to allow both Parks & CFIA members to cast their ballot.  See below to sign up for the ratification vote webinar that is most convenient for you.  

In order to be eligible to vote you must:  

1.   have received your personal identification number by e-mail or mail (your PIN is required to vote, but is not required to register and attend a webinar) 

2.   ensure you are a member in good standing (MIGS)   

3.   attend a 15-minute webinar session  

Step 1: Receive your Personal Identification Number (PIN)  

For those PSAC members for whom we have no personal email, we will send a letter in the mail containing your PIN to your home address two weeks before the beginning of the voting period. If we have a non-employer, personal e-mail address on file, we will instead send you an email with your PIN the day before voting begins (please check your junk mail folder). If you still haven’t received your PIN, please contact your PSAC Regional Office. 

Please take a moment to update your contact information and provide us with your personal, non-work email address. You can update your contact information online by logging into the PSAC member portal or create an account if you don’t already have one.   

If you still have not received your PIN after the voting period begins, please check your junk e-mail folder and if it is not found there contact your PSAC Regional Office.  

Step 2: Ensure you are a member in good standing (MIGS)   

In some situations, PSAC members cease being members in good standing (MIGS) and lose the right to participate in ratification votes.  To confirm your status, please contact your PSAC component.  

If you are on extended leave  

If you are on extended leave (e.g., long term disability, maternity or parental leave) and therefore not a member in good standing (MIGS), you can make a request to remain in good standing to the National President via this online form. This will allow you to participate in the ratification vote.   

If you have not signed a union card or are unsure that it has been processed  

If you have never signed a union card, you will not be able to participate in the ratification process. You can fill out and sign a union card online.  

If you are unsure that you have previously signed a card or are unsure that it has been processed, simply fill out a new card online.  

Even if you are already a member in good standing, please take a moment to give us your personal, non-work email address. You can update your contact information online right now.    

If you have difficulty updating your information, contact your PSAC Regional Office.  

Step 3: Register for a webinar  

In order to ensure that members are fully informed prior to casting their ballot, the PSAC constitution requires all members to attend an information session before they vote. These sessions will be held by webinar in each region and will allow members to ask questions regarding the content of the tentative agreement. Attendance will be tracked and only those who registered and attended the full presentation will have their member profile updated on the e-voting system, enabling them to vote.   

Find your PSAC region below to register for the webinar. Your PSAC ID is required to register for the webinar. It is listed in the top right corner of your voter package for easy reference or you can contact your PSAC Regional Office to obtain it. You must attend a session specific to your bargaining unit in order for your attendance to be counted. Please note that registrations will close 90 minutes (180 minutes in the Quebec region) before a webinar starts. Make sure to register early in order to secure your spot. 

It is strongly recommended that you join the webinar online and only call into the webinar if you have no other option. This will allow you to pose questions in the question box, follow along with the videos and presentation, and easily have your attendance tracked. Those who join by phone will have to go through an additional verification process. 

*You do not need to have received your PIN in order to register for and participate in a webinar* 

Ratification vote webinar schedules for your PSAC region 

Note: GoToWebinar is not supported on Internet Explorer. Please use a different browser to register for the webinars (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge). 

British Columbia: http://psacbc.com/parks-canada-ratification-vote-information-members-bc#webinars

Prairies: https://prairies.psac.com/node/11171

Ontario: http://ontario.psac.com/cfia-parks-webinar-schedule

National Capital Region: http://psac-ncr.com/events/parks-canada-bargaining-unit-ncr-information-sessions

Quebec: http://afpcquebec.com/en/information-session-ratification-votes-parks-canada-cfia

Atlantic: http://psacatlantic.ca/updates/register-cast-your-ballot-parks-canada-cfia-ratification-votes

North: http://psacnorth.com/collective-agreements/ratification-votes-parks-canada-october-5-november-4

Online webinar participation is preferred  

We strongly recommend joining via browser or the GoToWebinar app (iPhone, Android) as this allows us to automatically track your attendance. If you wish to join by phone, you can have your participation counted by briefly joining the webinar via browser or the app and retrieving an audio PIN using the control panel. You can then log off the online webinar to continue listening by calling in by phone and have your participation counted.  

If you will be joining by phone and are unable to retrieve an audio PIN through the app or browser, please note that your attendance will not be automatically registered. Therefore, you must inform your PSAC Regional Office of your presence on the webinar. Instructions on how to do so will be provided during the webinar. If we do not have a record of your attendance, your vote will not be counted.  

Requests for accommodation   

If you require any accommodation to be able to participate fully in the webinars (such as ASL interpretation), please contact your PSAC Regional Office as soon as possible.   

Technical notes  

Please join the webinar a few minutes early to make sure you are able to log-in and address any technical problems in advance. 

The webinar may not work on all tablets.  

Step 4: How to Vote 

As a PSAC member working for Parks Canada Agency or CFIA, you will have the opportunity to vote on the tentative agreement with your employer from 
October 5 to November 4

You can vote on the tentative agreement by telephone or online. As stated above, you must attend an information session before voting.  

  • Using the PIN that was sent to you by e-mail or mail, you can vote any time from 8:00 a.m. (EDT) the day voting begins until 12 p.m. (EDT) the final day of voting after you have attended a webinar outlined in Step 3.  
  • The phone number and website for voting will be provided to you during the webinar.    
  • Please be aware that if you should be interrupted while voting, you may re-access the voting system to complete your voting.  
  • This vote is by secret ballot. How you vote is entirely confidential.  

Source: http://psacunion.ca/register-cast-your-ballot-parks-canada-and-cfia