|Alternate Regional Vice-Presidents|
|Labour Relations Officers|
Ref: Union Leave Policy
As you are aware the employer, CCRA, was attempting to introduce a National Union Leave Policy. I had several meetings with CCRA representatives, developed a written submission (attached) to the CCRA which all resulted in several drafts of the policy. The last meeting was held January 21, 2002 . The employer at that time was to make further changes and the intent was to implement the policy in all probability April 1st. At the meeting I did advise the employer that the UTE-SEI would do everything in its power to fight the implementation of this policy.
Your negotiating team was then advised by myself of the position of the employer regarding the Union Leave Policy and immediately put it on the bargaining table. I also requested an opinion from the PSAC-AFPC of our avenues that were open to us to stop the implementation of the policy.
The following Memorandum of Understanding became part of the tentative agreement that the members will shortly vote on. It is important to note that the UTE-SEI worked as a united front to fight this issue and used all avenues open to us. All of the bargaining agents were also on the same page with this fight. Written submissions were shared between UTE-SEI, CEUDA and PIPSC.
If there are any changes in the way that you have been granted union leave in the past please advise the National Office immediately.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
THE CANADA CUSTOMS AND REVENUE AGENCY
THE PUBLIC SERVICE ALLIANCE OF CANADA
The purpose of this Memorandum is to confirm an agreement reached by the Employer and the Alliance whereby the parties agree to review the AUMI with the objective of adopting a National Union-Management process which, subject to mutual agreement, provides for Union-Management agreements concerning the use of Union leave and alternate dispute resolution at Local, Regional and National levels in keeping with the Philosophy Statement defined for AUMI.
The parties further agree that the Employer will not implement national guidelines for Union leave until such time that mutual agreement is reached on a National Union-Management Initiative or the expiry of this MOU, which ever occurs earlier.
This MOU does not form part of the collective agreement.
This MOU expires on October 31, 2003 .
SIGNED AT OTTAWA , this day of the month of , 200 _
THE CANADA CUSTOMS THE PUBLIC SERVICE AND REVENUE AGENCY ALLIANCE OF CANADA
November 8, 2001
Mr Claude P Tremblay
Staff Relations & Compensation Directorate
Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
200 Laurier Avenue West 3rd floor
Re: Union Leave Policy
Although I firmly believe that anything I say on behalf of the Union of Taxations Employees will fall on deaf ears, I have a few comments prior to commenting on some specifics of the policy.
It has been our position for over the more than two years that this item has been on the table that it is a management problem and not a union one. Each and every union representative at the local, regional and national level of the Union of Taxation Employees has been granted “authorized” union leave to conduct the business of the union. Some of it has been with pay and some of it has been without pay. The important fact is that an authorized representative of the employer approved the leave. If there is some concern regarding the amount of leave, the type of leave or anything else about the leave it is the authorized representatives of the employer that should be questioned and/or made accountable, not the Union or its representatives.
The Union will not accept nor address the concerns that the Commissioner has regarding Union Leave. More than once, I have asked to know the names of any representatives within our organization whom the employer believes is abusing their union leave. To date, I have been supplied with neither names nor situations that fall into this category. It seems that the employer believes there to be abuse so there must be abuse. This belief being based on absolutely no facts what so ever. The catalyst to this witch-hunt appears to have been born by the amount of money that the CCRA invested and wisely so, in some eyes, on union leave. Never did the employer even look at the amount of complaints that were resolved by union representatives vs. time and effort consuming grievances that could have been filed. There has been no mention at all about what kind of value did the CCRA get for their expenditure of time and money for union leave. Much of the recorded time can be attributed to time spent working with the employer performing duties in the workplace that mutually benefited the employer and the union members. A few examples of this are Occupational Safety and Health, Employment Equity, Orientation sessions, Harassment sessions; and this is just to name a few.
There have been local, regional and national agreements regarding union leave that will now be thrown out of the window. To what end does this occur. Will local and regional management no longer have the authority to deal with their union counterparts in a manner that they feel benefits their office or region? If that is the case then why allow local and regional management to have any signing authority for union leave and have it all approved nationally, which in the end is exactly what is occurring. Management in Ottawa is dictating what is good for the regions and local offices.
I will reiterate what I have said several times in the past…..do not paint all union representatives as abusers of union leave. If there are individuals whom you believe are abusing their leave then deal with them and their situations. I am a firm believer in “if it is not broken then dont attempt to fix it”. The implementation of this policy will waste time of the union representatives attempting to determine the correct time code to use, as well as, the time that the supervisory and management personnel will use to verify if the time code is valid and if the leave is valid.
On to the specifics:
In the Guidelines on page III, second bullet, you talk about advising the Manager (whomever that is) how long the absence will be. That is not always possible. Until you speak with the member you do not know how long it will be. On the surface many situations appear simple but once you delve into them they have a way becoming extremely complex requiring much more time. Think about it, how many times has someone said to you “Oh, I just want to talk to you for two minutes” and ended up talking for an hour.
Your definition of “complaint of an urgent nature” is far too restrictive. The representative first has to talk to the member to know exactly if it is urgent. Ive had members show up at my desk crying. I think that is something of an urgent nature but it does not appear to fit into your definition unless it falls under “health” which it may or may not in reality.
There is also the matter of confidentiality surrounding our members. You state that the Manager should have enough information in order to identify the appropriate provisions that apply to the absence. This is very subjective to each manager…what is enough? We will not divulge detailed specifics of a case to a supervisor or manager for fear of identifying the individual member. This is far more possible in smaller offices or sections of an office. We take an oath which states in part “….and will always keep confidential all matters concerning the affairs of the Union that are brought to my attention” and this includes details of individual cases.
“Prepare and file a Grievance” is listed as leave without pay code 9101. This is totally contrary to the Tisdelle decision. The Adjudicator states on page 31 “However, we can rely on United Automobile Workers and Kelvinator of Canada Ltd (1968) 19 L.A.C. 307 to find that clause 24.09 does provide the implicit right to Mr Tisdelle to consult Ms Restoule to prepare and write up his grievance.” Clause 24.09 of the old Master Agreement is now our Article 14.07 and provides for leave with pay.
In the Guidelines on page III in the last bullet it states “Representatives should be advised that telephone calls should only take place during their lunch and rest breaks.” I will certainly advise all Regional Vice Presidents and National Vice Presidents, as well as, local executive to remember this when their Management counter-part gives them a call during working hours. Let us be reasonable! There is no need for this bullet at all. Our representatives already include the time spent on telephone calls if they believe the time expended warrants recording. It appears that the CCRA just wants to inflame an already volatile labour relations situation with the Union of Taxation Employees representatives.
In the Guidelines on page IV under “Procedure” please explain to me what a representative is to do if the immediate supervisor is not available to give either written or verbal permission? I will advise our representatives to immediately go see the Director for approval as there is always a Director on site, Acting or otherwise. In fact, this section does not even state whom they are to get the permission from. This section also states “ Representatives must report back to their managers on return to the workplace”. Again, what if they are not available? Our Collective Agreement that both the CCRA and the Union signed states “Where practicable, the representative shall report back to his or her supervisor (not manager) before resuming his or her normal duties. I guess if the representative is not able to locate their supervisor then they will not be able to resume their normal duties??
Page 1 on the Leave Code Chart under Arbitration, Conciliation and Alternate Dispute Resolution (PSSRB). You quote article 14.04, which states “ When operational requirements permit, the Employer will grant leave with pay to a reasonable number of employees representing the Alliance before an Arbitration Board, Conciliation Board, or in an Alternate Dispute Resolution Process”. I dont see the words PSSRB Alternate Dispute Resolution Process. The same follows for the bullets where article 14.05 is referenced. I would suggest that if that is the employers position then there should have been bargaining demands tabled to change these articles.
Page 3 Leave to prepare and file a grievance is listed as leave without pay…….it should be leave with pay.
Page 8 Leave to discuss/formulate a potential harassment complaint with an employee. Traditionally this type of leave has been with pay. I would suggest that if leave without pay is instituted then we will use the grievance route instead of the “complaint” process and we will receive leave with pay.
Page 3 Leave to assist an employee in reviewing the investigator report and provide feedback is listed as leave without pay. I was under the impression that the employer was committed to a harassment free workplace. Not allowing a union representative paid leave to go over an investigators report with a complainant/respondent certainly doesnt convey that impression. It could certainly be in the best interest of the employer to allow the representative time to work with the employee in question to make sure that the process proceeds smoothly and in accordance with the policy. The alternative is the grievance option, which will be leave with pay.
Page 9 Leave related to Decision Review and ITPR…..Decision Review is leave without pay and ITPR is with pay. It is about time that the CCRA revisit the Staffing Regime specifically in regards to representation. If a grievance is filed it is all leave with pay. It makes no sense that leave would be with pay at the final version of staffing recourse and not at the steps below the final steps. If leave is to be granted then it should be with pay.
Page 10 Leave for Alternate Dispute Resolution ADR-CCRA ……you state that there is no specific contractual obligation to provide time. We disagree, in that we believe article 14.04 covers ADR situations.
Page 10 Leave to attend an investigation interview is listed as leave without pay. This type of leave has historically been leave with pay. I can only comment that throughout this policy where the employer has stated “No specific contractual obligation to provide time” there has been time allowed under “other “ with pay or leave without pay. There is no explanation as to why some is with pay and some is without pay so I can only guess that the employer picked and chose which activities they actually wanted the union involved in and made the decision that it would then be with pay. The rest are without pay.
In closing, I request that the employer revisit this item and leave well enough alone. I am aware that it is not just the unions that are not too eager to pursue this change in policy. Some Local Directors and Regional Assistant Commissioners have also expressed concern regarding this change. I suspect that if this is implemented that the union time will actually go up. Failing reconsideration I understand that the implementation date is an item that is up for discussion.
I look forward to being told that this project has been cancelled.
National President, UTE-SEI