Strike votes for Treasury Board bargaining units begin March 16

PSAC National President Chris Aylward has authorized strike votes for members of the PA, SV, TC and EB bargaining units following the release of the Public Interest Commission (PIC) report last week.

More than 90,000 members of the four bargaining units will have an opportunity to vote at strike meetings to be held from March 16 to May 7, 2020. Strike votes for the 27,000 members of the Canada Revenue Agency bargaining unit are already underway.

“PSAC bargaining teams need a strong strike mandate from members to force Treasury Board to come back to the bargaining table with a new mandate so that we can get a fair settlement quickly,” said Aylward.

Aylward noted that the Public Interest Commission (PIC) report on common issues made it clear that to reach a deal the government will need to offer PSAC members more Phoenix compensation and a wage increase in line with the cost of living. The report also highlighted the need to address compensation gaps and recruitment/retention challenges for those groups that are underpaid relative to comparable groups inside or outside the federal public sector.

The government’s current offer falls short on all fronts. They have yet to table wage increases that would ensure rises in the cost of living are met, and their Phoenix compensation proposal remains meagre and unequal across the public service.

“The threat of a strike will give the employer the nudge it needs to avoid more disruption during their minority government,” said Aylward.

“That’s why we urge all PSAC members to vote yes.”

In the coming weeks members will receive notices of strike vote meetings via email and through your locals and regional offices. The information will also be posted on the front page of the national website, as well on PSAC regional websites.

Please check out the following link if you would like more information on strike votes and strike action. We’ll be adding more information in the days ahead to answer a wide range of questions so make sure to check back.



Phoenix damages : everything you need to know about what we are negotiating

Much of what PSAC members have heard about Phoenix damages focuses on the government’s general damages offer of five days of leave for the last four years of hardships. You may not know that we’re negotiating more than just compensation for general damages. Here’s the breakdown:

A three-part settlement

The Phoenix compensation agreement we are seeking has three main elements:

  1. General damages compensation for all: This is universal compensation for everyone, regardless of their circumstances. Unlike an out-of-pocket expense, or a direct financial impact, this will cover all the general hardships suffered throughout the public service such as: personal time lost trying to resolve pay issues, delays in career advancement (forced to avoid acting assignments, transfers, etc.), high levels of anxiety and stress, cancelling of parental and other personal leave to avoid being Phoenixed, reduction in support of family members, delayed retirement – to name a few.
  2. Strengthening the current expense claims process: This is largely for out-of-pocket expenses caused by Phoenix pay problems, such as interest on lines of credit, bank charges, etc. We successfully negotiated this claims process years ago for our members but we intend to legally enshrine this claims process moving forward and strengthen key language in order to ensure our members can continue to get the reimbursements they are owed.
  3. Expanding the expense claims process to include greater financial hardships: Many thousands of PSAC members experienced far more than general damages, or out-of-pocket expenses – this would allow them to claim those specific damages. This includes things like major financial losses (cars, homes, investments etc.), and longer-term impacts like ruined credit ratings.

Why PSAC still doesn’t have a settlement

We are largely satisfied with our negotiations surrounding the strengthening of the current expense claims process and expanding it to include more significant financial hardships. Therefore, two of the three parts of the proposed settlement are not a problem. The major stumbling block is the government’s offer on compensation for general damages.

Let’s look at why we rejected this part of settlement:

The Liberal government has offered what amounts to 1.25 days of leave per year for each member who has worked for the federal government since 2016. Entitlement to that leave would be the following:

2016/2017 2 days leave
2017/2018 1 day leave
2018/2019 1 day leave
2019/2020 1 day leave

All members would be entitled to the above leave if they worked for any part of the relevant year. Both full time and part time employees would qualify for the full amount.

Former employees and retirees would need to apply for this compensation directly and would receive it as a cash payment according to the value of the days of leave they would have been entitled to.

This offer is unacceptable for two key reasons:

  1. Five days of leave is far too little to compensate for over four years of general damages across the entire public service.
  2. Most importantly, it’s not an equitable solution. It rewards the highest earners because their days of leave are worth more when cashed-in, punishing lower paid employees, many of whom have suffered the most.

Why should a Program Manager receive double the compensation compared to an Administrative Assistant? And why should that same Administrative Assistant get a third of what a diplomat in the public service would receive?

It’s completely unjust and there’s no reason for it. 

The general damages portion of this agreement is going to be our one chance to account for all the impacts of the last four years that can’t easily be demonstrated through receipts, invoices, bank statements, etc. The final amount has to be better than what the government put on the table, and it must be equal for everyone.

We are using our bargaining strength to win Phoenix damages

At the start, PSAC and other federal public service unions sat down together with the federal government to discuss compensation for the harm done by Phoenix. However, these discussions took place outside of the collective bargaining process giving the unions little leverage to get a fair deal. When the other unions accepted the Phoenix compensation offered by the federal government, PSAC made it clear that agreement on Phoenix damages is one of our priority demands in collective bargaining.

The union did this for two main reasons:

  1. It would strengthen our ability to get a better Phoenix damages deal. While we’re bargaining for new collective agreements the union has the most leverage and power. If we were to settle our collective bargaining first, we would have few mechanisms left to get a fair Phoenix damages settlement.
  1. Trying to negotiate Phoenix damages separate from bargaining has already been proven unsuccessful. PSAC was originally part of the group of 15 federal public service unions that negotiated for years to get to the current offer of five days of leave. Without being tied to a formal process where unions have some leverage, the government refused to improve their meagre offer.

Why hasn’t PSAC filed a class action lawsuit?

Unlike non-unionized workers who might have to rely on a lengthy and expensive class action lawsuit, PSAC members are already part of a certified class – their union – and can seek a resolution directly with the government. Unlike a lawsuit that would wind its way through many years of the legal system with an uncertain outcome, we can negotiate more quickly with the government and ensure we only settle for the best deal.  In addition, PSAC members will not have to pay a significant percentage of their settlement to a law firm as they would if they were forced into a class action lawsuit.


I’m on Strike Alert!

Good afternoon members of UNE,

I wish to inform all UNE members that, in accordance with PSAC regulations, PSAC National President Chris Aylward has authorized strike votes for the Treasury Board PA, SV, EB and TC tables, as well as Parks Canada Agency employees.

With these extremely important votes expected to take place in the coming weeks, I am asking all members to update their information with the Union. The quickest way you can do this is to visit the PSAC website and join their mailing list using your personal (non-employer) email address. It takes 30 seconds.

This is an important moment, given the Government of Canada’s stall on a proper pay administration system, the lack of appropriate movement on Phoenix damages, and an uninspiring Board report with  respect to the EB and PA tables, with strong indications that other Board reports will have similar findings.

This strike vote authorization affects roughly 80% of all UNE membership.

The time is now to act, to mobilize, to support bargaining teams, to achieve fair and just collective agreements!


In solidarity,

Kevin King
National President
Union of National Employees

PIC: Keys to PA deal

The government will need to offer PSAC members more Phoenix compensation and higher wage increases if they hope to reach a deal, recommends the Public Interest Commission (PIC) report on Treasury Board common issues and the PA group bargaining unit.

Despite this obvious conclusion, we know this government won’t budge unless we make them. That’s why we’ll need to continue ramping up our workplace action, up to and including a strike, until PSAC members get the Phoenix compensation and fair working conditions they deserve.

Strike votes are already underway for our members at CRA and in the coming weeks PSAC will announce when it intends to begin holding strike votes for the PA group and other bargaining units.

While the PIC’s recommendations aren’t binding, key findings from the report include:

Proper Phoenix compensation 

The PIC agreed with PSAC that reaching a fair Phoenix damages deal could be the “ultimate antidote” that paves the way to a deal. The PIC acknowledged that while other unions have set a pattern for compensation that includes five days of paid leave, as the largest bargaining agent, PSAC has the leverage to demand more.

Every PSAC member has suffered stress and anxiety because of Phoenix, even the small few that haven’t had pay issues. Many members have had to put their lives on hold; canceling parental leave, refusing new jobs, promotions or acting assignments and even delaying their retirement for fear of being Phoenixed.

That’s why we continue to demand equal, cash compensation for all PSAC members. When cashed-in, five days of  leave disproportionately rewards higher wage-earners at the expense of those who make less. That’s not fair, and you deserve better.

Fair wage increases  

The PIC recognizes our position that as the largest federal public sector union, PSAC has the bargaining power to negotiate a better wage settlement for our members.

The PA group alone has more members than all other federal public sector  unions combined, and the PIC noted that PSAC has historically not been tied down to the deals reached by those other unions.

Wage adjustments 

Because of the diverse membership of the PA group, the PIC recommended that Treasury Board should provide allowances for specializations within the PA bargaining unit that have been identified by PSAC.

Two sides still far apart 

The report also pointed out that the two parties are still so far apart in their positions but that some of the differences are not insurmountable. This reinforces PSAC’s position that Prime Minister Trudeau must give Treasury Board a new mandate and come back to the table ready to bargain fairly if they hope to prevent strike action.

Next steps 

Now that we’ve received the PIC report, we’ll continue to escalate our job action to pressure this government into negotiating a fair deal for PSAC members. Keep in touch with your regional office and sign up to our newsletter to get the latest bargaining updates.



One year later, Parks Canada claims it still has no mandate to bargain

February 7, 2020

The Public Interest Commission (PIC) hearing for Parks Canada bargaining took place January 27 to 28, with mediation January 29 to 30. Your Parks bargaining team came to the PIC ready to resolve outstanding issues, yet the Parks Canada Agency came to the hearing singing the same old tune.

Read the PSAC’s PIC brief and the employer’s PIC brief

After a solid year of bargaining, the employer still hasn’t tabled a formal pay proposal, neither has it taken a position on implementation, Work Force Adjustment (WFA) or Phoenix. The agency continues to claim it doesn’t have a mandate from Treasury Board despite the fact that Parks Canada members have been working without a contract since August 2018.

Limited progress

The Parks bargaining team was able to make limited progress on a few items in mediation. They achieved a letter of understanding (LOU) for a Joint Learning Program (JLP) pilot project with money attached. They also got the employer to drop concessions on hours of work, overtime, callback and reporting. Concessions for seasonal and term workers remain outstanding.

Future bargaining

As the employer seems unwilling to bargain in a meaningful manner, no further meeting dates have been set. PSAC expects the PIC report in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned for further updates that will detail the report’s recommendations.

Will we strike?

Your bargaining team continues to seek parity and fairness, improved work-life balance, increased job security and fair compensation for all Parks Canada workers, and they will not concede to anything less. Our expectation is that the employer will get a revised mandate in the near future that brings both parties closer together, but each time they squander an opportunity to negotiate, it seems unlikely this will happen without increased pressure.

If PSAC and the employer are still unable to reach an agreement after the PIC report is issued, members will have the opportunity to join Canada Revenue Agency workers and take a strike vote. History has taught us that the best way to avoid strikes is to prepare for one. A strong strike mandate from our members often persuades the employer to come back to the table with a better offer.

In order to reach the fair deal that our members deserve, PSAC will continue to mobilize its membership through increased workplace action, up to and including a strike, until a fair settlement is reached.


Source: PSAC Website



Public Interest Commission provides its recommendations for EB group

February 5, 2020

PSAC has now received the Public Interest Commission’s (PIC) recommendations on issues that are specific to the Education and Library Science (EB) group. The PIC’s recommendations on issues common to all Treasury Board groups will be made available when the Commission submits its recommendations for the Program and Administrative Services (PA) group.

While the PIC recommendations are non-binding, which means the union and/or the employer can accept or reject the recommendations, we are pleased to note that the PIC agreed with some of the union’s proposals specific to the EB group.

Wage parity with comparable jobs

While the PIC did not fully address all of our key demands around wage parity and adjustments, it recognized that the employer’s wage offer was inadequate for the two parties to reach an agreement.

New national rate of pay for teachers who work for 12 months (ED-EST)

The PIC also recommended that the new national rate of pay for 12-month teachers (ED-EST) be included in the new collective agreement. The PIC pointed out that a joint committee composed of both the employer and union representatives had already reached an agreement on a new national rate of pay and that this agreement should be implemented.

Allowance for union members who teach Indigenous languages

The PIC agreed with PSAC’s position that teachers who provide First Nation language instruction should be entitled to the specialization allowance. The Commission “was struck” by the fact that the union’s proposal aligns with the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and with the federal government’s Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act.

Unfortunately, the PIC didn’t address many of PSAC’s proposals and even agreed to some of the employer’s concessions, such as on Education Leave Without Pay and Career Development. Other examples can be read in the full document on the PIC’s recommendations. In order to reach the fair deal that our members deserve, PSAC will continue to mobilize its membership through increased workplace action, up to and including a strike, until a fair settlement is reached. Stay up to date with the latest on bargaining by signing up for email updates.

Source: PSAC Website

Parks Members Head to Public Interest Commission This Week

January 27, 2020

Parks Canada bargaining team members will head to their Public Interest Commission (PIC) hearings January 27, 28 and 30 in Ottawa. Parks members are one of nine PSAC bargaining units who are moving through the PIC process as negotiations reached an impasse last July.

During the hearings, PSAC will present our proposals for a fair and progressive collective agreement for Parks Canada workers, which includes:

  • A competitive wage increase
  • Introduce protections to guard against the impacts of Phoenix
  • Improvements to leave provisions, work-life balance, parity with the core public service, and improvements for seasonal workers
  • Access to domestic violence leave
  • Measures to achieve pay parity for Park Wardens and Park Warden Supervisors
  • An Indigenous language allowance
  • The creation of a joint committee on child care
  • A plan to further increase parity for Parks Canada by joining the National Joint Council

Watch members of the Parks negotiating team discuss the important issues on the table

What is a Public Interest Commission (PIC)?

Under the law that governs contract negotiations in the federal public service, once impasse is reached at the bargaining table, a PIC is established to help the parties reach an agreement.

The PIC is a panel of three people – a chairperson appointed by the Labour Board and nominees appointed by the union and management. The union and the employer submit briefs and explain their positions on the outstanding issues at a hearing with the PIC. The PIC then issues a report with recommendations for settlement. The recommendations are not binding. Once the PIC releases its reports for the various PSAC units, the union’s respective bargaining teams will meet to discuss the recommendations.

Stay up to date!

It’s important that all Parks Canada workers are receiving the latest bargaining news especially at this critical time in the process. You can help spread the word by:

Source: PSAC


TB bargaining: Government squanders mediation opportunity

Last week, mediation between Treasury Board and PSAC ended without a tentative agreement as government representatives refused to make progress on PSAC’s key demands. The session covered both common issues as well as those specific to the PA unit – 90,000 federal public service workers in Program & Administrative Services.

After four years of Phoenix problems, the employer didn’t come to the table ready to get to a deal, instead they arrived with the same proposals PSAC has been rejecting for months. 

PSAC is standing firm on our core demands, including fair wage increases, Phoenix-related demands, and the working conditions that make balancing family and work possible.

Unfair wages

The government is proposing wage increases of about 7% for the 2018-2021 period. This is below inflation, which is projected at about 8% for the same period. In order to meet inflation, the government wants us to forgo an additional 1% market adjustment meant to raise earnings for specific groups that are below industry averages, and instead use that 1% to increase the overall wage offer. It’s not fair for the Employer to ask all PSAC members to pay for market adjustments. It should be their responsibility.

To be clear, we won’t accept any offer that doesn’t keep up with the rising cost of living while also addressing group specific market adjustments.

Phoenix-related demands

The impact of the Phoenix pay system is a central issue on the bargaining table for each of PSAC’s federal public service bargaining units. To mitigate ongoing pay problems and avoid such debacle in the future, PSAC is asking for key provisions to be put into our collective agreements.

PSAC is demanding a penalty clause in the collective agreement so that members are properly compensated when they are not paid properly or on time. Also, we want an end to the recovery of overpayments before an employee’s pay issues are completely resolved. Although PSAC has secured a temporary agreement to halt this practice, we want this protection permanently included in our collective agreements.

PSAC is also seeking reimbursement for members who are forced to seek accounting and financial management counselling due to pay problems cause by the Employer.

Finally, to avoid future disasters, we are asking for more and proper consultation before any technological changes are put in place affecting our members.

Extended parental leave

PSAC has proposed that members choosing the newly extended 18-month parental leave option receive a 93% top-up for the entirety of the leave period (i.e., combined maternity and parental leave lasting 18 months). Currently, members opting for the extended parental leave option receive a 93% top-up for the first twelve months (i.e., combined and maternity and parental leave), followed by an Employment Insurance payment of 33% of their salary for the next six months of parental leave.

However, the government is insisting on a new formula that would provide members taking the extended parental leave with only a 55.8% top-up for the parental leave period. This is a major concession and a stunning proposal from a “feminist” government that claims to support improved work-life balance.

Workforce Adjustment

PSAC is proposing to recognize years of service in a WFA situation, so that those with seniority are prioritized for alternate positions. Besides, our proposal seeks to ensure that when an employee is deemed to be in surplus, a guaranteed reasonable job offer will be made within a 40-kilometer radius.

In contrast, the government wants to open the door wide to relocating workers in the event of a workforce adjustment. This would create situations where workers would have to either uproot and move their families or lose their jobs without access to the WFA options.

What’s next

PSAC’s answer to this latest insult by Treasury Board is simple: while the report from the Public Interest Commission should be tabled anytime soon, we’re moving forward towards workplace action and a strike mandate until a fair settlement is reached.

Keep an eye out in your workplaces for upcoming information sessions and strike training. And make sure you’re getting bargaining updates by email.


TB bargaining: PSAC heads into mediation

January 14, 2020

PSAC’s bargaining team representing 90,000 federal public service workers in the Program & Administrative Services (PA) unit has agreed to mediation on January 16 and 17.

The session is being convened by the Public Interest Commission (PIC) and will cover both common issues as well as those specific to the PA unit (information for the other Treasury Board units will be forthcoming).

PSAC and the government presented their respective bargaining positions at a PIC hearing on December 4-7.

PSAC will provide an update on the mediation session once it is complete.

What is a Public Interest Commission (PIC)?

Under the law that governs contract negotiations in the federal public service, once impasse is reached at the bargaining table, a PIC is established to help the parties reach an agreement.

The PIC is a panel of three people – a chairperson appointed by the Labour Board and nominees appointed by the union and management. The union and the employer submit briefs and explain their positions on the outstanding issues at a hearing with the PIC. The PIC chairperson also has the option of convening additional talks. The PIC then issues a report with recommendations for settlement. The recommendations are not binding.

Once the PIC releases its report, the union’s bargaining team will meet to discuss the recommendations. Traditionally, following this, PSAC and government representatives have returned to the table to resume negotiations. We expect the PIC reports to be issued in 2020.

Source: PSAC