First I would like to say thank you to the UTE Bargaining Team for all of the hard work, and effort that they have put in over the last 41 months as they attempted to negotiate a new contract. Most members will never realize the frustration that they must endure during this process. Their continued patience and dedication to make improvements and protect the benefits that have been previously obtained in your contract must be applauded. Collective bargaining is the most important responsibility of the Union, and the Bargaining Team never once strayed from their responsibility.
After 4 years of negotiations, 3 mediation sessions, a Public Interest Commission hearing and recommendation, our Bargaining Team signed a settlement with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This will be submitted for a vote to the membership. We believe this agreement is the best we will be able to achieve in the absence of a strike mandate from UTE membership at CRA.
We have supplied all of the information on the settlement that was reached, it is available on the PSAC and UTE websites. You can also refer to the final offer that CRA put out in May 2015 to compare the differences.
The Team and I unanimously recommend that this offer be rejected. I have been stating from the beginning of negotiations that this round of bargaining is about concessions. The government wants you to agree to begin taking away benefits out of your contract, starting with severance pay. We have continually stated throughout this round that they would start with severance and then move on to sick leave and our pensions. Well, we have been proven right as the groups that have previously given up severance pay are now at the table and they are fighting to keep their sick leave benefits. The other main issue in this round of negotiations is the wage increases for the third and fourth year. The CRA was directed by Treasury Board not to negotiate wage increases for these years. We could only get a “me-too” clause with a 0.5% guarantee, virtually taking away the right to bargain. We are now being forced by the actions of other groups on two fronts, severance pay and wage increases.
This has been a very long and frustrating process in which we have been unable to negotiate with our employer. Instead, a third party (Treasury Board) has continually bullied and dragged out the process, and treated you, as employees, with nothing but disrespect throughout. It has been hard on members not to have an economic increase in over three years. Costs continue to rise and Treasury Board knows the amount of pressure this puts on people. They know that as time goes on, people will accept less and less to try and get something, anything. But are we willing to continue to receive scraps? To see our benefits (that were hard fought for) be taken away? I hope not. I hope that you look at this offer and realize what little you would be gaining in the face of an onset of steady losses.
The Team and I believe we have done everything we can to try and get the government to negotiate fairly and treat you with respect. We have said from the start that we did not want a strike and neither do our members. We have tried everything we can and it has all fallen on deaf ears. The promises of the new government are nothing but words. There is no respect for the civil servants, yet they can give themselves raises of 1.75% and 2%, yet for us it is 0.5%.
The time has come for you to make a decision; to say yes or no to this offer. We are saying it is not a good offer and asking you to stand up and reject it. You have to believe that you deserve to be treated fairly. If you think giving in now in favour of moving on to the fight for sick leave is the way to go, you must realize that once you have given up one thing out of the contract, you have opened the floodgates. How do you determine when to draw that line in the sand? Once you are willing to accept losses, that would only continue as the fight drags on.
The membership must take a stand or give up. Either way, you must take ownership of your decision. You cannot blame someone else for what the offer is, or what you are being asked to lose. You are making decisions that will affect you as well as others and future employees of CRA.
We are asking you to stand up not give up. Tell the government that you are not willing to lose, not willing to start down the road of concession bargaining, not willing to give up severance pay for less that the benefit is worth, and that you are fighting this fight for the present and for the future.
STAND UP OR GIVE UP; YOUR DECISION, YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!
National President, Union of Taxation Employees