Bulletin 07/12

May 18, 2012

TO :     Executive Council
            Alternate Regional Vice-President
            Local Presidents

RE:     “Stephen Harper Hates Me” Buttons


Dear Sisters/Brothers:

It has recently come to the attention of the National Office of the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) that the Canada Revenue Agency’s Collective Bargaining, Interpretation and Recourse (CBIR) Section has issued a notice to its Regional Human Resource (HR) representatives about the wearing of the above noted buttons. This message appears to have been further disseminated by these HR managers to most, if not all CRA offices.

In its notice, the CRA Headquarters CBIR representative has determined that the buttons in question are “considered to be derogatory and damaging to the employer’s reputation”. Furthermore, the notice advised that “employees [wearing these buttons] should be advised to remove the buttons immediately”.

While the UTE does not agree with the employer’s interpretation and even though we consider the wearing of these buttons to be a lawful activity of the Union, we caution members to remove these buttons, if they have been advised to do so by a manager. If given a direct order, the principle of “obey now, grieve later” should be followed and members should not subject themselves to possible disciplinary action by refusing a direct order.

We further recommend that members who have been directed to remove the button contact a local Union representative immediately in order to file a grievance contesting the order. In this regard, we suggest the following wording:

Details of Grievance

 “I grieve the employer’s actions in directing me to remove a button with the Union slogan “Stephen Harper Hates Me” in that this direction discriminates against me based on my membership or activity in the Alliance and interferes with my right to participate in the lawful activities of my Union. I allege that in directing me to remove this button, the employer has violated Article 19 of the Collective Agreement between the Canada Revenue Agency and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (Collective Agreement) and Section 5 of the Public Service Labour Relations Act.

Corrective Action Requested

That a declaration be issued that the employer has violated Article 19 of the above noted Collective Agreement and Section 5 of the Public Service Labour Relations Act;

That copies of this declaration be posted in conspicuous locations in the workplace as determined by the Union where such notices would most likely come to the attention of employees;

That the employer be directed to cease, and refrain in future, from such violations;

Such other relief and remedy as may be deemed appropriate in the circumstances.

Finally, we ask that Locals carefully monitor this situation and report any occurrences to their Regional Vice-Presidents, who in turn should report same to the UTE National Office.

The UTE is currently collaborating with the Public Service Alliance of Canada as to other potential actions that the Union and its members may take to challenge and remedy these arbitrary and oppressive actions by the employer. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

In Solidarity,

D. Shane O’Brien

D. Shane O’Brien
Senior Labour Relations Officer