September 30, 2016
Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
Bargaining has continued over the summer and despite our efforts to collaborate and work with a conciliator, the Employer continues to refuse to work to resolve the contract. Instead of bargaining, the Employer has now chosen to exercise their right to force another vote on an offer that includes their proposed changes to undermine and weaken union representation in the workplace. They’re still trying to get the right to bring you into meetings all alone, without a union representative. They also want to take away your right to choose your union representative if you do have one. That’s been rejected twice. They seem to think forcing you to vote this third time will make you accept it. However, the law lets them do that – once. This is how we got here:
After the dust settled from the failed decertification vote, the Union contacted the Employer to resume bargaining. We had to write and call the Employer’s Consultant several times. When we finally got talking, we proposed a 1% wage increase effective the 1st of July 2015 (one year of retro) and that the contentious changes to Article 3.07, Union Representation, be abandoned by both sides – we thought that a withdrawal from the Union and the Employer would be viewed as a fair compromise to end the deadlock. We also noted that members would be open to considering the Employer’s financial concerns when discussing wages for 2016 – 17.
The Employer countered with an offer of 0% for 2015 – 16, 2% for 2016 – 17 and 0.5% for 2017 – 18, but maintained their previous proposal of changing Article 3.07. Now, that’s actually more money than the 1% and in the long run, a lot more. This made us wonder, has the “landscape” changed again?
The Union pointed out that we can’t negotiate a wage increase for 2017 -18 now because that violates the collective agreement (24.01). However, we did propose that we would recommend a 2% wage increase for 2016 -17 and 0% for 2015 – 16 if we leave Article 3.07 as it is. We can negotiate for 2017 – 18 when the time comes.
The Employer offered 2% for 2016 – 17 (but moved the date from the 1st of July to the date of signing, so no retro at all) and agreed to negotiate for 2017 – 18 later, but insisted on changes to Article 3.07.
The Union said no – we cannot agree to that as members have rejected it twice. We had offered a concession on the wages and retro (letting them take back the 1% was a big deal) but we got nothing in return. We proposed that if we can no longer bargain, then we move onto binding arbitration and let a third party solve it for us. The Employer refused that and said they would not bargain any more. They said this was their “Last Offer”.
The Union asked if that meant the “Last Offer” in The Saskatchewan Employment Act and the Consultant said… “uh, yeah, that’s the one”. So the Union waited for notice from the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board indicating an Employer request for a supervised “Vote on the Employer’s Last Offer” as provided in the Act (SEA 6-35). And we waited.
The Union wrote to the Consultant another several times to ask if the request had been filed, to no avail. Eventually, we heard that the Employer was waiting for the Union to hold a vote. So we wrote again and provided some pointers about the process – and offered binding arbitration once again. The Consultant finally responded to say he hadn’t spoken to the Employer since the decision for the vote but he is “sure” that the Employer’s lawyer had made the request. He has now written to say that the Employer’s lawyer (how many people do they need?) is filing the request – a month after they said “Last Offer”.
The Union strongly recommends that the members reject it. The Employer has consistently delayed and been unresponsive to the clear message being sent by their own staff for more than a year. Tinkering with the financial offer doesn’t make up for that – it’s an insult. The Union remains open to binding arbitration but the best solution is for the Employer to listen to our advice and agree to a reasonable offer that the members will accept.
Your Bargaining Committee:
Julene Rawson (Unit Co-Chair), Janet Peters (Unit Co-Chair), Tracy Goodheart (Union Representative) and Cam McConnell (Negotiations Officer)
Click on the link below to download a printable PDF of this bargaining update: