Bargaining Committee

Report of the Bargaining Committee

March 2011

Denis Lalancette Item 11(l)

The members of the Standing Bargaining Committee met in Ottawa on February 16 and 17, 2011.  The members in attendance were Sister Dawn Hardy TC representative, Brother Adam Jackson, TSO representative, Brother Jean-Pierre Fraser, Committee co-chair, and Brother Denis Lalancette, Committee chair.  Sister Lyson Paquette, Technical Advisor, was absent.

The members met primarily to review, comment on or submit recommendations further to the interactive reports from all Bargaining Team members and thereby adhere to resolution 240 from 2005.  You will find a copy of the agenda attached to this report.

Interaction of the Bargaining Team members

After reading and analyzing each interactive report from the Bargaining Team members, the committee members agreed on the following recommendations (these recommendations were the subject of repeated comments or suggestions from the bargaining team members) for the UTE Executive Council for them to be used as guidelines or references during the next bargaining process.

The expedited process is recognized as an effective, productive system.  This process appears to enable better transparency and, in particular, enables the Union’s rank-and-file members to benefit from agreements without penalty.

On the employer’s side, this system helps prevent its workers from experiencing a drop in interest and production as well as confrontations.

Recommendation: 1) The committee recommends that the expedited process be favoured when the parties agree on implementing it.

The National Committee meeting for selecting and prioritizing the official demands from the PSAC/CRA Bargaining Team in the workbook (over 300 demands) 3 days not enough time according to most attendees at that meeting.  The Bargaining Team members agree that progress should be less rushed to enable all attendees to fully understand all demands and the rationale behind the demands, and especially to go away from the meeting with a common understanding.

The members discussed the fact that, both the National Bargaining Committee and the Bargaining Team should be able, upon request, to call upon a specialist for various technical issues in order to understand better.  A pay specialist was cited as an example.

Recommendation: 2) The committee recommends providing an extra day for the National Bargaining Committee meeting.

Recommendation: 3) The committee also recommends that, upon request, the National Committee and the Bargaining Team be able to call for the presence of a specialist for additional technical explanations (e.g. a pay specialist).

The size of the Bargaining Team (7 members) is recognized as viable and should be preferred.

A majority of the Bargaining Team members mentioned a perception that discussions, even decisions, are being made away from the bargaining table without their knowledge.  However, unanimously none of the Bargaining Team members see anything malicious in that, but think that this perception is mostly due to a lack of discussions or briefing sessions on the part of interveners in direct contact with the employer and also to a lack of time.  However, since they are no longer in the heat of the action, the Bargaining Team members recognize the excellent work of the interveners.

Along the same lines, the directives and instructions have sometimes been vague, and this has created misunderstanding problems within the team.  For example, it was pointed out that the translation service was discontinued as we assumed they were no longer required as bargaining was over but we discovered we had to have another meeting and we did not have translators. It was also mentioned that there are way too many off-mike discussions, meaning that communication can be an issue when the entire group is not receiving the same information.  As a result, these perceptions or situations are spreading doubt and dividing the Bargaining Team members in the heat of the action, and this could mitigate the outcomes.  Wanting to sign an agreement before the collective agreement expires seems to be rushing everyone. However, the committee accepts that, for this round, the Treasury Board’s return to the bargaining tables is the main factor for this loss of time.

Recommendation: 4) The committee recommends that updates be ongoing (between the Bargaining Team members PSAC/CRA), if not, at least at the end of each day.

Another comment upheld was that, before the bargaining team members leave and the ratification votes begin, it should be ensured that there are no more outstanding issues such as pay issues (when and how) and that the interpretations and applications of the various sections of the agreement are clear.

Recommendation: 5) The committee recommends that an extra session be scheduled with both teams (union and employer) after the tentative agreement is agreed on and before signing it, in order to have an update on the interpretation and applications of the amendments to the collective agreement (e.g. prorating of the personal leave for part-time employees).

The committee members would appreciate the Bargaining Team members include comments or assessments on the various stages or aspects of the bargaining process in their interactive report, as requested in the December 2010 report, namely: communication, the locals and members, face-to-face bargaining, the ratification vote or strike vote, if applicable, or any other aspect of bargaining.

Recommendation: 6) The committee recommends that the call letters to the Bargaining Team members include the following topics in their interactive report: communication, locals and members, face-to-face bargaining, ratification vote or strike vote, if applicable, or any other aspect of bargaining.

Recommendation: 7) The committee recommends that this report be submitted to the members of the National Bargaining Committee and the Bargaining Team at the next bargaining process, at the start of the National Bargaining Committee meeting to make them aware of the report and following up on it, if necessary.

Working paper for the National Bargaining Committee

A brief conversation was held in the presence of Sister Nicole St-Aubin who receives the bargaining demands.  The committee believes that the names of the locals should no longer appear in the workbook for the National Bargaining Committee’s selection meeting.  Sister St-Aubin believes that a numbering and colour-coding system could replace the local’s name.  She will of course discuss this with Sister Paquette.

As an exercise, the committee compared the official bargaining demands across the workbook, in order to determine whether the expectations of the locals and the rank-and-file members were met during the bargaining.  The outcome couldn’t be clearer: all demands in the official bargaining demands book of July 2010 are from sections or members, and the final results do reflect their expectations.  The committee has to congratulate the National Bargaining Committee members.

The committee would like that an official congratulations and thank-you letter be sent to the locals for their involvement in the demand collection process.

Recommendation: 8) The committee recommends determining the feasibility of sending an official congratulations and thank-you letter by the person in charge of receiving demands at the national office, upon receiving the demands.  This would also cover the demands from members (ongoing process).

Reviewing the National Bargaining Committee’s meeting process

We discussed possibilities for improving and particularly facilitating tracking the path of resolutions at the National Bargaining Committee’s selection meeting for the purpose of the report to the locals.  In view of the absence of Sister Lyson Paquette, who is responsible for the report to the locals, we postponed this discussion until a time when she is present. (Also see the discussion with Sister St-Aubin)

The members are of the view that the National Bargaining Committee’s workbook should be made available (electronically) to the locals.  Access to that document is protected by our access system for locals.  This could enable a better understanding of the breadth of the National Bargaining Committee’s work and could compare the various demands from the locals.

Recommendation: 9) The committee recommends that the bargaining demands workbook be made available electronically to the locals.

Recommendations or resolutions at the Executive Council or conference

The committee reviewed UTE regulation 10 and PSAC regulation 15. They also reviewed the resolutions submitted to the 2008 bargaining pre-convention committee.

The committee has no recommendations or resolutions relating to those documents.

Open discussion on various bargaining-related topics

The committee held a brainstorming session to determine whether there were any problems that had not been raised for the various steps in the bargaining process.  They agreed to submit various resolutions through the committee members representing the locals.

The process that seems to have been left out is the ratification vote process.  As such, below are various comments or suggestions regarding this process:

The PSAC speaker’s notes practice should be continued for ratification votes.

The schedule of dates for ratification vote meetings must be planned by the PSAC and the Bargaining Team members or planned speakers. That schedule must be adhered to for this intense meeting period; any changes to that schedule cause disruptions and impact the smooth flow and relations among the locals.  Likewise for the choice of speakers by the locals, i.e. the committee understands that the locals  may prefer certain speakers, but that isn’t a reason for refusing to have another member of the Bargaining Team.

There shouldn’t be more than 2 multiple meetings for the same local, except when there are shifts and members should be encourage to attend the scheduled session rather than request a special session.  Having meetings where members attend when they want to should be avoided.  Members clearly must attend a briefing meeting before voting.  With a positive agreement, the impact of this practice is less, but if the employer’s offer is subject to statements on major issues the members would not be happy unless we change our practice of being able to vote when they want.  The committee thinks that the members have, at a minimum, the duty to speak out on the collective agreement and, to do so, they have to attend a briefing session.

The committee is questioning some of the PSAC’s inconsistent practices.  The ratification vote process and practice applied by the PSAC is based on the nature of the tentative agreement, i.e. if the agreement is positive, there is less of an effort by PSAC for the organizing and progress of the briefing sessions.  The position on the funding of the meetings rooms goes hand in hand with that attitude.  Members’ involvement in the ratification votes is a question of principle and, to perpetuate respect for that principle, the PSAC must have equal, ongoing positions and practices.

PSAC representatives don’t have to replace the Bargaining Team members or the designated speaker for the briefing session, the rule is relatively clear on that.

The committee is also of the opinion that the proposed schedule of the various bargaining steps must continue to be publicized.  Presentation of it as well as other aspects of the process are appreciated at the Presidents’ Conference.  The committee hopes that this practice will be repeated.

I would like to thank the members of the Standing Bargaining Committee for the work achieved at this meeting.  I would also like to thank and congratulate Sister St-Aubin for her excellent work.  The Bargaining Team members’ interactive reports were greatly appreciated; we thank you for them.

Of course, the committee members would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate Sister Bannon for her faithful service.

Respectfully submitted,

Denis Lalancette,
Chair of the Committee