Our bargaining team met with SSO during the week of May 1. The team started the week in caucus, where we had planned to review SSO’s proposals, but unfortunately the documents provided by our employer contained many errors and lacked clarity. This made it impossible for us to do our work of analyzing their proposals.
Tuesday, we were pleased to meet all members of the employer’s bargaining team. We communicated the problems with their proposals and the lack of professionalism this demonstrated. In response they requested the rest of the day to review their proposals, but first, SSO’s Director General Geoff Bowlby presented us with an overview of SSO operations.
Employer proposes concessions
The rest of the week, we heard from our employer about the changes proposed during this round of negotiations. The union is concerned about some of these proposals. SSO wants to restrict union leave and the participation of union representatives in solving problems in the workplace. SSO has proposed eliminating the requirement for management to provide operational justification when denying leave requests, a right we won in the last arbitration. There are also proposals to limit protections against harassment and discrimination, maternity-related job modification and leave, bereavement leave and family related leave. We have been clear with the employer that we will not negotiate concessions. We are at the table to negotiate improvements for our members.
Status as federal public servants
We need to tell you we encountered a serious underlying problem in meetings with our employer this week. During the last round of bargaining, our arbitral awards clearly stated that SSO employees are federal public servants, but throughout the week our employer repeatedly said that it does not acknowledge our status as public servants. The employer uses this argument to deny us working conditions comparable to other public servants, including those we work alongside at Statistics Canada.
Your local representatives will be contacting you soon about participating in our union’s activities to make it clear to SSO that we will not stand for this.
Our CAPI and CATI bargaining teams met with SSO March 17, 2017, to open this round of bargaining and exchange our initial proposals. Regrettably, the employer’s team was not even half there, which we told SSO was very disrespectful to us and to the bargaining process. We expect the employer will not continue to demonstrate this attitude as we pursue bargaining.
We had a very busy week. We spent three days reviewing our bargaining input from members across the country and doing the research necessary to prepare our proposals. We met with the employer for the initial exchange. As we always do, we began by exchanging non-monetary proposals.
You will find that we have “reserved” on a number of important issues. This means that we haven’t yet presented a proposal to the employer on these issues. We will do so once we have received information from SSO about our membership and, in some cases, had an opportunity to discuss these issues with the employer at the bargaining table.
We are focused on making improvements to:
- Job security (incl. term and part-time employment)
- Hours of work
- Job classification
- Protection from harassment
We also want to improve the processes for dealing with discipline and grievances. Proposals on other important issues include discrimination, leaves of absence (union-related, bereavement, family-related responsibilities, injury on duty), designated paid holidays, personal equipment costs, mental health, and a joint-learning program. We will not accept any concessions.
We had the pleasure of meeting with our Union of National Employees (UNE) President Doug Marshall while we were in Ottawa. We discussed current problems faced by our members in the workplace and he reiterated the union’s support for us making gains in this round of bargaining. We will meet to continue bargaining May 1-5. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact a member of our bargaining teams:
CAPI (Field Interviewers) CATI (Regional Office Interviewers)
Wendy Kleywegt-Bowen (Kingston) Anna Goldfeld (Winnipeg)
Claude André Leduc (Montreal) Shalane Rooney (Sturgeon Falls)
Mary Anne Walker (Kitchener) Alice Vallée (Sherbrooke)
Linda Woods (Kelowna)
Erin Sirett, PSAC Negotiator
Julie Chiasson, PSAC Research Officer
Earlier this year, we published an announcement that PSAC and SSO reached a pay equity settlement.
Details of the settlement, which will affect approximately 20,000 to 25,000 current and former employees, are now available on the employer’s website. The payments are set to commence in early 2017.
The settlement will apply to thousands of eligible current and former Interviewers and Senior Interviewers who worked at Statistics Canada between March 8, 1985 and November 5, 1987 and for SSO between November 6, 1987 and November 30, 2013.
“This a huge victory for thousands of our members,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President. “PSAC has fought to reach a pay equity settlement with Statistical Survey Operations for years.”
“This is a long time coming. Our members have finally achieved pay equity. ”
“We achieved this victory because our members fought hard with us for many years and never gave up.”
“This struggle builds on the pay equity movement that continues today. We will continue urging the Liberal government to make proactive pay equity legislation a reality without further delay.”
“I’m very happy that PSAC has won this extremely long struggle. This will put between $40-$45 million in the pockets of our members, whose work has been undervalued and who have a long history of precarious employment. The settlement means a lot to them,” added Doug Marshall, National President, Union of National Employees.
Details to follow soon
Now that the settlement has been signed, PSAC and SSO representatives will work out the details as to the calculation and disbursement of the monies owed. SSO estimates the payments will average between $1500 and $2000 per worker.
As this settlement will apply to several thousand individuals and spans a period of over 30 years, the SSO will make best efforts to commence making payments to eligible employees early in 2017.
Settlement ends long legal process
In 2002, PSAC filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission on behalf of members employed with seven separate employers, including SSO.
After over a decade of legal wrangling, the SSO case was referred to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board for a hearing in 2014 which eventually led to further discussions between PSAC and SSO, finally resulting in this settlement.
The collective agreements for SSO regional office interviewers and field survey interviewers expired November 30, 2014 and PSAC served notice to bargain on March 31st, 2015. In preparation for bargaining, PSAC will hold a national Bargaining Conference in Ottawa. The Conference provides and important opportunity to discuss bargaining demands and strategy for the coming round of negotiations.
Key Details about the Conference
Date: January 9-10, 2016
- 1 delegate per local for locals with fewer than 50 members.
- 2 delegates per local for locals with 50 or more members.
- 3 delegates per local for locals with 100 or more members.
For a copy of the callout letter, please click here. Notwithstanding this letter, the following applies:
The list of delegates’ names and contact information must be received by the UNE National Office no later than November 19, 2015. Please send your list by email to Emily.Gault-Due@une-sen.org.
For a copy of the callout letter, please click here. Notwithstanding this letter, the following applies:
Delegates to the bargaining conference must be elected at a Local meeting, held in accordance with UNE bylaws and policies. Because of the short notice that was received for the conference, I realize that it may be difficult to provide the required 30 days’ notice to members. Therefore, on an exceptional basis, Locals must provide members at least 21 days’ notice of the meeting.
There is also a separate process for equity members to apply individually. For more information, please click here. http://psacunion.ca/psac-equity-activists-women-and-young-workers
Thank you for your cooperation.
Finally, after three-and-a-half years, we received the arbitration awards for interviewers (belonging to the RO and FI classifications) who conduct surveys for Statistics Canada.
There are a number of significant victories in the decisions:
- We achieved wage increases totaling 9.6% over the life of the contract, with full retroactivity – significantly more than what management had proposed in negotiations.
- We achieved new protections and rights for employees in the context of work assignments.
- We got new job security rights.
- There are increases in premiums.
- There is new language concerning AWW’s, with the parties directed to meet and negotiate further on the issue concerning the union’s proposals.
While we did not achieve everything we asked for, we made real progress in areas that our bargaining teams indicated were critical for this round of bargaining.
We won these because of the hard work and determination of our bargaining teams and the solidarity of PSAC members at SSO.
Since the fall of 2011, PSAC has been engaged in a fight with SSO to improve working conditions for interviewers and SIs at Statistics Canada.
- We held months of negotiations with the employer
- We organized information pickets at SSO workplaces across the country
- We organized a rally held outside Stats Can headquarters in Ottawa.
- We filed legal challenges, and had jurisdictional hearings at the Labour Board
- We even took both the Labour Board and SSO to Federal Court.
- And we got a member of Parliament to question the government about SSO’s refusal to negotiate a fair contract with us.
We should all be proud of the work we did to achieve these victories, despite it being a difficult and lengthy round of bargaining.
The next round will begin shortly, and given the position taken by the government with other PSAC bargaining units, we can also expect it to be tough. Now is the time for members to not only take the time to learn about and understand the rights provisions under our new contracts, but also to prepare for the coming round. We will provide a more detailed list of all the changes in the new collective agreements very soon.
PSAC will be analyzing the arbitral awards for both the RO and FI units and will be posting this analysis, along with previously signed-off language, on the PSAC website as soon as possible.
In the interim, we can share with you the following:
- Both Collective Agreements are effective December 1, 2011, which means wage increases will be paid retroactively to this date.
- Both Collective Agreements expired effective on November 30, 2014.
- Notice to Bargain for renewal agreements will be sent to the employer immediately.
- The input call for proposals will be sent to all locals immediately.
- A bargaining conference to elect the bargaining teams and prioritize bargaining proposals will be held later this year. We will provide notice of the dates of that conference as soon as possible.
Please continue to check this website for news of the provisions of your collective agreements and of developments as we move forward.
Our members at Statistical Survey Operations are still waiting on news of their new collective agreement. Unfortunately, we don’t have any news to share right now. We’re, quite simply, still waiting with you.
When we last reported on the arbitration process in January, we told you that a decision should be rendered within three to five weeks. Unfortunately, the arbitration board is taking more time than was originally expected.
Since we presented our submissions, we have had no control over the process. We appreciate that this is a lot for us to ask from members who have been waiting four years for a decision.
Members of SSO have done a lot of waiting throughout this bargaining process. It’s been a tough one; negotiations first reached impasse in 2012. After filing for arbitration, the process was greatly delayed by an employer that challenged our ability to negotiate some of our bargaining proposals before the arbitration board.
Once the decision of the arbitration board is issued, PSAC will inform members at SSO of the decision. We also know that this delay has led to speculation among some members. All we can tell you is that any rumours you may hear are completely unfounded because no report has been published. No one, including our own bargaining team, has been informed of any decisions rendered so far.
How to get the news immediately:
The minute the news is published on our website, we’ll disseminate it on Facebook and Twitter. If you’d prefer to be emailed the minute the news is released, we can commit to that too: just send an email to email@example.com and tell us that you’d like to be informed as soon as the news becomes available.
Once again, we can’t express how much we appreciate our members’ patience throughout this process. We know it’s been a long and arduous road; we look forward to seeing you at the finish line.
When we last reported on SSO bargaining, our members were awaiting a federal court decision as to whether seniority-based proposals could be dealt with in arbitration. Late last week, PSAC confirmed that the court had ruled in the favour of the employer.
PSAC will be discussing the next steps with its legal counsel.
In the meantime, the PSAC is asking for the arbitration panels to publish their decision concerning all the other disputed issues, including wage increases, assigned work week problems, hours of work issues, and, in the case of field interviewers, the provision of office equipment and protective clothing.
The arbitration panels’ decisions should come within 3 to 5 weeks. For more information, please consult this piece by the PSAC.
We will bring you updates on this story as soon as they are made available to us.