Parks Canada Clawing Back Terminable Allowance

The Union was recently notified that the Parks Canada Agency clawed-back portions of the CS terminable allowance, as part of the retroactive payments related to the recently ratified collective agreement.  The Union’s position is that this action violates the negotiated agreement with the Agency.  Therefore, the PSAC, through Union of National Employees, has commenced a group grievance action.  To sign on to this grievance, you’ll need to complete the attached grievance form and accompanying form 19 – following the instructions contained therein.

Click here to download the form – then print, sign and send.

Once you have done so, please forward the grievance and Form 19 to the attention of Denis McCarthy at the following coordinates:

Denis McCarthy
Union of National Employees
150 Isabella Street, Suite 900
Ottawa, Ontario
K1V 1S7

* If you know of any former CS members who were employed by Parks Canada (on or after August 5 2011) and who are no longer employed by the Agency, we would appreciate if you would forward this message to them.

Parks Canada and Union Sign Collective Agreement

The collective agreement is now online. You can download it by clicking here (but be warned, it’s a doozy of a file! It’s 10 MB!)

Representatives from the Public Service Alliance of Canada and Parks Canada signed the official version of the collective agreement, earlier today.

“Now that it’s signed, members will feel a lot better,” said Loretta Moar, a member on the bargaining team.  “It’s a great thing for the members. I’m ecstatic about it.”

In an email sent to all Parks Canada employees, the agency’s CEO, Alan Latourelle, remarked on both parties’ efforts in reaching an agreement.

“The collaborative attitude and ongoing working relationship between PSAC and the Agency made it possible to successfully negotiate this renewed collective,” wrote Latourelle.

For Moar, the signing of the agreement marks the end of months spent tirelessly working on behalf of our membership.

“It was a lot of hard work, long hours, a lot of travel… and a lot of restaurant food,” said Moar, laughing.

But all that time spent away from home was worth it, she said. Given the current political climate, the bargaining team did exceptionally well. Moar says she’s proud of the deal the bargaining team secured for our members.

“It was a goal of mine. To be a partner to that, it was a really great feeling.”

The Union of National Employees wishes to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank all bargaining team members for their great work. Among its UNE members were Céline Ahodekon, Benoit Dubeau, Mike LeBlanc, Kevin King, and Loretta Moar.

SSO Bargaining Update

Last time we reported on bargaining at Statistical Survey Operations, the negotiations had reached an impasse. Since then, members have only become more passionate about having their issues addressed.

“The members are getting impatient and frustrated,” said Réjean Amyotte, a member of the bargaining team. “The more time goes by, the more solid we become.”

After the PSAC filed for arbitration, the employer filed almost 20 pages of objections. Their position is that many issues, including wage and scheduling rights, simply can’t be addressed in arbitration. In response, the Labour Board scheduled a hearing for the end of March to address the employer’s 131 objections.

“This delay is really starting to build solidarity.”

Members working for Statistical Survey Operations fall under two categories; those who go door to door conducting surveys and those who do it from a call centre. Both groups have filed for arbitration.

Last month, members at the regional office in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, participated in lunch-hour pickets in the days leading up to the Labour Board hearing. Once the hearing started, members mobilized even more.

“On the first day that we picketed, I got a call from the assistant director asking what was going on,” said Amyotte. “So, we certainly have their attention.”

Among the demands is the issue of seniority; our members want the employer to recognize seniority when assigning work hours. As things stand currently, the employer has no obligation to provide a minimum amount of hours.

“During our discussions at the negotiating table, we always presented scenarios on how this could be put into practice,” said Géraldine Fortin, a member of the bargaining team for field employees.

“They make us talk, they make us talk – but they never come back with anything. We’re basically talking to ourselves – there’s no exchange.”

In a recent demonstration in Sherbrooke, Quebec, SSO members sported t-shirts with the slogan, “We believe in seniority”.

Fortin, who has been working for Statistical Survey Operations for 22 years, says she’s been promised the moon since Day 1, and she’s still waiting.

“Why do we stay there?” Fortin asked herself. “It’s not for the salary. It’s not for the work conditions – there aren’t any….”

“We stay there because of the contact with respondants. There’s a social side to our work that is very rewarding.”

For additional information, please consult the SSO bargaining section of the PSAC website.

Psst! If you go to our Flickr page, you’ll find a bunch of photos related to SSO Bargaining! Keep up the good fight!

**One last thing: A big thanks to Krystle Harvey from Local 00383 for some last-minute help with this article! 😉

New collective agreement for members at Parks Canada

The members have spoken; Parks Canada employees have voted in favour of the tentative agreement that was presented to them.

Over the past few months, we’ve reported a few times on the collective bargaining process, the tentative agreement and the hard work of the bargaining team.

For Loretta Moar, a first-time member on the bargaining team, yesterday’s announcement was very happy news.

“When the announcement was made, I danced around my living room,” admitted Moar. “This is great. I’m glad the membership chose to ratify the agreement.”

The bargaining team’s hard work cannot be overlooked. They spent countless hours on the road, away from home, going from one Local to another to meet with members.

And while the traveling can be tiresome, Moar says it’s not all bad.

“It was nice to meet all the members in my region!”

National Executive Vice-President Eddie Kennedy, who also works for the agency, says he’s very happy with the results and wished to extend his congratulations.

“The bargaining team worked extremely hard to ensure we got the best deal possible, given these uncertain economic times,” said Kennedy.

And for those of you who are curious about Mike LeBlanc’s cat

“She’s very happy that her daddy is home and was super glad that the collective agreement has been ratified,” said LeBlanc. “It means daddy will be home more. Her tail is up and she is purring!”

Congratulations to our members – and here’s to the bargaining team getting some much deserved rest!

To find out more about the new collective agreement, click here.

The PIC report is in!

The highly-anticipated Public Interest Commission report came in last month. As you may recall, the TC group was hoping the commission’s recommendations would lead to a fair tentative agreement to present to the membership. We caught up with one UNE bargaining team member to get the whole scoop!

“The report is favourable,” said Garry Larouche, Regional Vice-President for the Ontario. “It’s favourable in the sense that a number of our issues were recognized, including our economic demands.”

The report, in fact, points directly to UNE members in one paragraph, where it reads:

“The union’s brief is compelling in that it discloses that Labour Affairs Officers (LAOs) are paid less than their provincial counterparts for work of a similar and, in some cases, identical nature.”

The report also recognizes that Measurement Canada is having difficulty in “retaining both TI-03 recruits and [their] more experienced TI-04 staff.” In other words, Larouche explained, “we can’t hire – and when we do finally have them, they leave to the private sector.”

As a solution to both situations, the report recommended monthly terminable allowances. These allowances enable the employer to increase the salary of a particular group of employees without affecting the entire classification.

However, the employer doesn’t seem eager to accept these recommendations. A partial letter of dissent was written by the employer and included in the report.

“It gives us an idea of where Treasury Board is on the issue,” explained Larouche. “We’re not sure we’re going to get everything in the report.”

Larouche feels there’s still a lot of work to do. The next step will include mobilizing on the issue and putting pressure on the employer.

Soon, members of the TC bargaining team will start to hold town halls to provide more information on the road ahead. Locals who are holding annual general meetings should also consider inviting a member of the bargaining to speak with members.

“We want to explain where we are and where we want to go – but more importantly, we want to hear from the members,” said Larouche.

Catching up with the parks bargaining team

It’s been a few weeks since our members on the Parks Canada bargaining team began meeting with members all across the country to explain the tentative agreement before them. Dozens of Locals have already cast their vote.

“This is what it’s all about,” said Mike LeBlanc, a UNE member on the bargaining team. “It’s entirely up to the members – it’s entirely democratic.”

Over the past three weeks, LeBlanc has been to Kejimkujik National Park, the Halifax service centre, Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, Prince Edward Island National Park, Fundy National Park and Kouchibouguac National Park. Next week, he will be visiting three sites in Newfoundland.

LeBlanc says the reception has been really positive. Most members are very happy with the many gains proposed; some are concerned about trading the accumulation of severance pay in order to get them.

“I basically explain to our members that we can negotiate with it now, or we can have it taken away from us in the legislature later,” said LeBlanc. “If we go back to the bargaining table, the government is still going to push for severance.”

Over in Quebec, meetings are also going very well. Benoit Dubeau, another member of the bargaining team, met with members in Shawinigan last week, including Local President Daniel Toutant.

“The members listened very attentively to Brother Dubeau’s explanations,” said Toutant. “We even took the opportunity to sign up a few Rands.” Take note: that’s a great idea because members need to have a signed union card in order to vote.

“The members seemed to be really happy with the answers they received.”

Heading west a little further, Sister Loretta Moar has been meeting with members in Ontario and Manitoba. So far, she’s met with office staff in Thunder Bay, conservation members in Nipigon and members working at Pukaskwa National Park in Marathon, Ontario as well as those working at Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba.

“The meetings so far have been very good,” said Moar. She added that most questions have centered around the severance package and payout options.

“There have been no negative comments about any portion of the tentative agreement,” said Moar.

And finally, we’re hoping Brother Kevin King has been travelling with some very warm long johns because he’s been visiting some very cold places. Earlier last week, we posted a photo of King knee-deep in the snow in Inuvik. If you don’t know where Inuvik is, it’s about a 53-hour drive north of Vancouver, in the Northwest Territories… it’s very very north!

King also visited the members in Banff earlier this month. “I spoke for about five minutes, and then answered questions for the next 25.”

His experience echoes that of other bargaining team members. “About 80% of the questions centered on the end of accumulation of severance.”

Brother King later attended meetings with members at Jasper and participated in the recent town hall against the privatization of the Canadian Rockies’ hot springs. More recently, King has been meeting with members in British Columbia along with a fellow member of the bargaining committee, Sister Céline Ahodékon.

By now, some readers might be exhausted just reading about all this travelling! The members of the bargaining team worked very hard to get to a monumental tentative agreement – and their hard work continues until they reach an agreement.

Brother LeBlanc said that while he really enjoys meeting members, he finds the travelling very tiresome.

“You’re away from home a lot. You’re staying in hotel rooms, eating at restaurants, spending a lot of time in airports or driving alone… it’s boring,” explained LeBlanc. “After a while, you almost go nuts,” he added, joking that he’s been talking out loud to himself a lot lately.

But LeBlanc says there are a few things that keep him going, such as the strong support he receives from his wife, Bernadette.

“She’s awesome! Without her support and understanding, I wouldn’t be able to be as involved as I am,” said LeBlanc with a smile. Even apart, the couple finds ways to keep in touch.

“We talk using Yahoo video, we play scrabble online together.”

However, LeBlanc says his cat, Belle, isn’t as supportive. “She isn’t supportive at all. She hates seeing the suitcase,” explained LeBlanc. “And when I finally get home, she ignores me for a few days.”

But despite the many days away from home and a grumpy cat that harbors a grudge, LeBlanc says getting a heartfelt ‘thank you’ makes it all worth it.

“At one meeting, as everyone was rushing to leave to avoid the bad weather, I noticed an older gentleman who seemed to be hanging around,” said LeBlanc. “He came up to me and said ‘I know it’s not easy work. You’ve been here a few times talking about bargaining and I want to thank you for your work because you guys don’t get thanked very often.’”

So, please, let’s all make an important mental note to thank our bargaining committee members. They work tirelessly on behalf of our members and they deserve our heartfelt thanks.

You can share your thanks right now! Please leave a comment in the box below.

Mike and his grumpy cat, Belle

Rideau Carleton Raceway members get a collective agreement

The latest Local to join the Union of National Employees now has a collective agreement! Last June, we reported that employees at the Rideau Carleton Raceway, a racetrack and slots facility in Ottawa, became members of the UNE.

The new collective agreement is currently being proofread and awaiting signature, but the good news is that it’s already in effect.

Members of Local 71201 will receive a one-time signing bonus of $800. The collective agreement also gives them a grievance process for the first time, which means that they now have a way to address issues in the workplace.

On a day-to-day level, employees will now be able to select their shifts based on seniority. As for part-time employees, they now benefit from up to three paid lieu days, which they can use to leave work early or as vacation time – much in the same way that full-time employees use their lieu days.

The employees at Rideau Carleton Raceway have also been concerned with the future of their workplace ever since the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation announced plans to ‘modernize’ its activities. Luckily, the Local’s first collective agreement protects them in the event that their slots facility is purchased by another casino; the terms and conditions are guaranteed until the expiry of the collective agreement.

“We’re extremely happy that these members now have a collective agreement,” said National Executive Vice-President Eddie Kennedy, who has been acting as president this week. “At the end of the day, we’re talking about something that will really help us protect these members’ rights,” added Kennedy.

“The bargaining team should be especially proud of their hard work.”

United for a fair deal – TC bargaining

A demonstration was held in downtown Ottawa yesterday, to support the technical services bargaining team. Bargaining with Treasury Board broke down earlier this year, so the team is appearing before the Public Interest Commission this week. The union hopes the commission’s recommendations will result in a fair tentative agreement to present to the membership.

“We’re here today to tell them what you do and why you need to be treated with dignity and respect,” said PSAC President Robyn Benson during the demonstration.

Members of the technical services table include accident inspectors, chemical decontamination technologists, grain-handling regulators, ship and train safety inspectors, and more. At the Union of National Employees, our technical services members include labour affairs officers at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and inspectors at Measurement Canada.

These members’ collective agreement expired in June 2011.

“Our members provide services that are valuable to Canadians – and the employer needs to recognize that,” said Amy Campbell, President of Local 00258 and a UNE member on the bargaining team.

Campbell hopes that Treasury Board gets the message. “It’s clear that we have the support of the membership,” she added.

For more information and bargaining updates, please consult the technical services bargaining section of the PSAC website.

For pictures of yesterday’s rally, come visit us on Flickr!

SSO Bargaining Team Declares Impasse

“They informed us that they weren’t budging on their position,” said Réjean Amyotte, Assistant Regional Vice-President for Ontario and a member of the Statistical Survey Operations Regional Office Bargaining Team.

Last week, after the employer indicated that they would not move on some key demands, the bargaining team decided to declare an impasse and seek arbitration.

Amyotte says that the employer was not receptive to the bargaining team’s proposals regarding scheduling and wage parity with other federal public servants.

Based on the present collective agreement, the employer has complete latitude on scheduling hours of work. “There are times when people with more years of experience are working fewer hours in a month than people who were hired six months ago,” says Amyotte. The bargaining team is working to ensure that seniority is recognized when assigning work.

“For years, this bargaining team has wanted and attempted to reach parity with comparable workplaces,” says Amyotte. The union believes that interviewers should be paid at the CR3 level and senior interviewers at the CR5 level. The bargaining team also wants to ensure that Statistics Canada accurately records pensionable hours.

Despite having filed for arbitration, the bargaining team is still open to meet and negotiate should the employer decide to address our members’ concerns.

SSO Regional Office employees work for Statistics Canada in offices across the country. They collect vital information for national surveys, mostly through telephone interviews.

For more information on this round of bargaining, please consult this PSAC update. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the SSO Bargaining section of the PSAC website.

Bargaining continues for interviewers at SSO

The bargaining team for Statistical Survey Operations Regional Office was hard at work last week during three consecutive days of negotiation. Members of this group work as regional office interviewers in Statistics Canada offices around the country.

“We spent the greater part of the three days talking about seniority,” said Réjean Amyotte, a UNE member on the bargaining team and an Assistant Regional Vice-President for our union’s Ontario region.

Brother Amyotte explained that seniority was the overall theme of this round of negotiations. The bargaining team’s proposals regarding scheduling and increased job security are mostly centred on seniority rights.

“I would say that I’m more than cautiously optimistic that we can reach a negotiated settlement,” said Amyotte.

The bargaining team is scheduled to resume negotiations on July 11 in Ottawa, where they will present their wage demands.

To find out more, consult the SSO Bargaining section of the PSAC website.