Arbitration Award issued for House of Commons Operational/Postal Group

After an exceedingly lengthy delay, the bargaining agent received on Wednesday the arbitration award from the Labour Board for our contract dispute with the House of Commons.

Highlights of the new agreement include wage increases and a pensionable lump sum payment as part of the award. The compensation won by the union in arbitration greatly exceeds the House of Commons’ offer in negotiations.

The employer has ninety days from the date of award to pay out back pay.

Other improvements include:

  • Weekend premium must now be paid on all hours worked on a weekend, including overtime hours.
  • Expanded access to Family-Related Responsibility Leave.
  • Employees can now carry-over more vacation leave per year.

In addition, the House must under certain circumstances pay each employee additional compensation if the employer does not pay retro payment within 90 days of the issuance of the award.

The House of Commons, in negotiations and in arbitration, proposed to limit members’ ability to take leave for medical and dental appointments. They also proposed to shorten shift change notice. With the decision, we have protected our ability to access leave for all medical and dental appointments, and we have protected the notice period for shift changes.

If you have any questions, please contact a member of the Bargaining Team: Gilles Lavigne, Claude Boilard, Charles Joanisse and Ktrishia Letendre.

National Indigenous Peoples Day

For generations, many Indigenous groups and communities have celebrated their culture and heritage on June 21 or around that time of year because of the significance of the summer solstice as the longest day of the year.

National Aboriginal Day, now National Indigenous Peoples Day, was announced in 1996 by then Governor General of Canada, Roméo LeBlanc, through the Proclamation Declaring June 21 of Each Year as National Aboriginal Day.

But one day is not enough. There is a lot of work to do towards reconciliation. Today, celebrate Canada’s Indigenous cultures.

2024 Women’s Conference Steering Committee Selection

Greetings,

The Union of National Employees Women’s Conference will be held this fall in the National Capital Region. We are excited to begin planning for the event and to get started with the work needed to make the event successful.

The National President, Alisha Kang, has appointed the National Executive Vice-President, Hayley Millington to chair the committee and she has chosen Mirelle Jaillet, the National Equity Rep for Women as her co-chair.

In preparation, we are creating a small steering committee. Our Conference committee will meet weekly via teleconference and, when necessary, in person. Meetings will be scheduled during the day and if you miss work to attend the meeting, a union leave letter will be provided for you.

The steering committee will include the following members:

  • One woman from each UNE region
  • One woman from the Francophone Committee
  • UNE Event Staff
  • One woman who has never attended an event

The committee will assist UNE Event Staff with the following and contribute to the overall organization of the conference:

  • Determining the program and organizing the agenda
  • Selection of subject matter and speakers for the conference
  • UNE branded items & activities

Nominations should include a short paragraph from the nominee explaining why the member would be a good fit for this committee. Please submit your nomination to Suzanne Boucher no later than June 28, 2024.

Library of Parliament pay equity committee: joint update from the employee representatives

Since it was established in October 2023, the Library of Parliament pay equity committee was has been working diligently towards the publication of a pay equity plan in accordance with the requirements of the Pay Equity Act.

During the last meeting in May, the committee conducted a vote on the job evaluation tool and the process for determining the value of work. The committee was unable to reach a consensus on either of these issues.

Despite opposition from the employee representatives, the employer indicated their intention to ask the Office of the Pay Equity Commission (OPEC) to dissolve  the committee in accordance with article 28 of the Pay Equity Act and instead create a pay equity plan without the contributions of the employee representatives.

In response, the employee representatives have sent a notice of dispute to the OPEC to request mediation regarding the two outstandings issues. We believe that the present impasse can be resolved and this work can be achieved through the committee. Therefore, the employer has no grounds to claim that it is necessary to proceed without it.

The employee representatives’ have requested that committee meetings resume so that together we can continue the discussions on gender predominance and total compensation. The employer, however, has so far refused to meet again.

We remain convinced that there is still a solution. Members of predominantly female job categories deserve to have their remuneration determined in full compliance with the Pay Equity Act by a committee made up of representatives of the employer and employees.

We will continue to keep you updated on any further developments and the steps we will be taking moving forward.

In solidarity,

Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE), Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and non-represented employees at Library of Parliament.

Scrap the three-day in-person Mandate

Calling all UNE members in the National Capital Region! Let’s join the rally from 12:00-12:30pm in front of the Treasury Board office at 90 Elgin Street in Ottawa on June 11, 2024.

UNE is joining with USJE and other components of PSAC, as well as allies, to rally in front of the Treasury Board building in Ottawa with a strong message to “Scrap the Mandate.”

The rally is in response to President of Treasury Board Anita Anand’s arbitrary decision regarding the Direction on prescribed presence in the workplace (the “Direction”). Effective September 9th 2024, the Direction mandates all federal public service employees to be at the work site a minimum of three days per week, and Executives a minimum of four days.

This new Direction will further limit hybrid work options for federal public service employees.

The Direction flies in the face of the Government of Canada’s previous commitments of collaboration, flexibility, and consultation as expressed in the Letter of Agreement on Telework (2023).

Come out and show your support and wave those UNE flags high!

More information on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/share/awkHxJghwqDV23ZR/

Best Theratronics use of unqualified scab labour raises nuclear safety concerns

Unifor and the Public Service Alliance of Canada sent a joint letter to the Canadian Safety Nuclear Commission (CNSC) today, expressing their concerns about Best Theratronics using unqualified managers and non-union workers as scab labour to handle safety-sensitive equipment at its Kanata, Ont. facility, including those containing radioactive material.

“It’s clear that Best Theratronics is willing to cut corners by using unqualified scabs and creating a dangerous work environment,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne.

“This is why we need anti-scab legislation to be put in place in every jurisdiction in Canada – to stop employers from engaging in these kinds of unsafe tactics.”

More than 50 members of Unifor Local 1541 and PSAC-UNE Local 70369 are on strike at Best Theratronics. Unifor members went on strike May 1, 2024, after the company proposed a two-year contract with zero wage increases, while PSAC members followed shortly after on May 10 with no monetary offer from the employer.

“The idea that scab labour could be receiving, offloading and handling radioactive material is alarming,” said Alex Silas, National Executive Vice-President of PSAC. “The use of replacement workers when it comes to hazardous materials sounds like a lesson I thought we learned in the 20th century.”

Best Theratronics develops and manufactures external beam therapy units, self-contained blood irradiators, and cyclotrons for hospitals, medical and research facilities.

The company’s owner Krishnan Suthanthiran recently emailed workers, saying the company will use contractors to complete work.

It is especially concerning that the company is using mangers and non-union personnel at the facility during the strike as scab labour who may be untrained and uncertified to do the work safely.

On May 22, a truck was observed delivering live material to the facility at approximately 8:30 p.m. There was one car in the parking lot at the time, raising questions about how the receiving and offloading of live material is being done.

Unifor recommends a new inspection be scheduled to ensure Best Theratronics – whose facility near Ottawa operates under a Class 1B license for the use of Cobalt 60, Cesium 137, and cyclotrons – is fulfilling its obligations under the CNSC.

“Seeing the lengths this company will go to skirt around a fair deal is mind-boggling,” said Unifor Local 1541 President Steve LaBelle. “We’re talking about unqualified scabs handling hazardous materials like it’s no big deal. We need to keep jobs in Canada being done by workers who are properly qualified and trained.”

As well, the facility is licensed under Class II Nuclear Facilities, Prescribed Equipment License and Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices for conducting work on medical equipment sold in Canada.

Unifor members work in the Skilled Trades as certified machinists, welders, sheet metal workers, machining process specialists, calibrators, electronic technicians, electrical and mechanical inspectors at the facility while PSAC members work as design specialists, production planners and production controllers, expert technicians and many other key positions which are crucial to the drafting, manufacturing and delivery of Atomic Energy-based machines produced by Best Theratronics Limited.

“We like the work we do, and that’s why we’re concerned that the owner may be putting the company and the non-unionized workers inside at risk,” said PSAC Local 70369 President Jeff Gulis. “During the pandemic last time we accepted concessions because we wanted the company to get through difficult times, but now it’s time for us to catch up to similar jobs in our sector, where people down the street are making 24-26% more than we are. We just want a fair deal and to get back to work.”

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 320,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is one of Canada’s largest unions, representing nearly 245,000 workers in every province and territory in Canada. UNE is a component union of PSAC representing more than 27,000 members working in 73 different workplaces in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Celebrating Pride Month: Honoring Our History and Championing Our Future

As the Regional Human Rights Representative for Ontario with the Union of National Employees (UNE), it’s an honor to reflect on Pride Month and its profound significance. As a young Black woman and a member of our vibrant union, I am deeply aware of the intersecting struggles and triumphs that shape our collective journey towards equality and justice.

Pride Month, celebrated every June, is not just a time for festivity but a vital commemoration of a movement rooted in resistance and resilience. The origins of Pride trace back to the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in New York City, a pivotal event ignited by the relentless police harassment of the LGBTQ+ community. This historic uprising began at the Stonewall Inn, a sanctuary for many who were marginalized, particularly Black and Latinx members of the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s crucial to recognize the pivotal role that Black trans women played in the birth of the Pride movement. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black trans woman, alongside Sylvia Rivera, a Latinx trans woman, were at the forefront of the Stonewall Riots. Their courageous defiance against systemic oppression sparked a movement that demanded visibility, respect, and equality for all LGBTQ+ individuals.

Marsha P. Johnson’s legacy is a testament to the power of intersectionality in activism. She reminded us that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is inherently linked to the struggles against racism, sexism, and economic inequality. Today, as we celebrate Pride, we honor her contributions and the countless others who paved the way for a more inclusive society.

For UNE and its members, Pride Month is an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to human rights and social justice. Our union has always been a staunch advocate for the rights of LGBTQ+ members, recognizing that a truly equitable workplace is one where diversity is celebrated, and everyone is free from discrimination and prejudice.

As a young Black woman within UNE, I am inspired by the rich history of intersectional activism. It motivates me to continue advocating for policies and practices that support and uplift marginalized communities within our union and beyond. From fighting for inclusive workplace policies to supporting LGBTQ+ members facing discrimination, our collective action is crucial in advancing the rights and well-being of all workers.

Pride Month is a time to celebrate how far we have come, but it also serves as a reminder of the work still ahead. By honoring the origins of Pride and the contributions of trailblazers like Marsha P. Johnson, we recommit ourselves to the ongoing struggle for justice and equality. Together, we can create a future where every individual, regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity, can live and work with dignity and pride.

In solidarity,

Des Hicken
Regional Human Rights Representative, Ontario
Union of National Employees (UNE)

STATEMENT

The labour movement has a long tradition of speaking out against war, human rights abuses and advocating for workers’ rights globally. In this spirit, the Union of National Employees (UNE) joins the unions and labour activists in Canada and worldwide in calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, a two-way arms embargo with Israel, and the facilitation of the immediate, safe and unhindered flow of humanitarian relief to respond to the humanitarian devastation in Gaza.

The UNE grieves the loss of all civilian lives in Israel and in Palestine. Approximately 1,200 Israelis were killed in the October 7th, 2023, attack by Hamas, and around 200 civilians taken as hostages, including children. As of April 23rd, 2024, approximately 42,510 Palestinians have been killed, including 15,580 children, and 3,661 have been forcibly detained and/or kidnapped, including children (Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor).

In the ongoing retaliatory actions by Israel the whole population of Gaza, 2.1 million Palestinians, have been internally displaced several times within the enclosure of Gaza, while it is continually bombed. Israel has cut off fuel, electricity, water supply, as well as any entry of food or medical supplies. This constitutes collective punishment under international law and is a war crime.

Over the last seven months, we have witnessed unrelenting violence against the Palestinian civilian population, including the ongoing bombardment and destruction of homes, workplaces, hospitals, schools and universities, historic and cultural sites, and civilian infrastructures resulting in widespread starvation and disease. Medical staff, humanitarian workers and journalists have been targeted, which is another infringement of international law.

This violence has completely impeded the ability for Palestinian workers to earn a livelihood. These actions have constituted a grave violation of human rights and workers’ rights. There is no better time than now to advocate for these protections.

In its January 31, 2024 ruling, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found it plausible that Israel’s acts could amount to genocide.

Palestinian human rights are a labour issue. In this spirit, the UNE also acknowledges the decades-long occupation and oppression of human rights of the Palestinian people. It is important to highlight that, since the 1970s, Israel has benefited from an accessible and low-cost Palestinian labour force. You can read more about the current labour conditions faced by Palestinian workers in the Report of the Director-General of the International Labour Organization from May 2023,

We echo the call of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), demanding that the Canadian government immediately suspend the trade of arms and military equipment with Israel. The Government of Canada has been a strong military, economic and political ally to Israel; between October and December 2023 alone it sent $28.5 million of new military exports to Israel (The Maple, February 2024). Workers, unions, human rights groups and people of conscience have been active across the country in blockading arms manufacturing companies. Nicaragua warned Canada and three other countries of its intention to take them to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for continuing to allow the export of military goods to Israel, which Nicaragua said contributed to Israel’s violations of the 1948 Genocide Convention in Gaza.

The UNE supports the Call to Action from the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions- Gaza Strip:

UNE calls on the Canadian government to:

  • Call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza
  • Call for an end to the 16-year-long blockade of Gaza
  • Call for the release of all Israeli hostages and all Palestinian political prisoners
  • Call for the immediate, safe and unhindered flow of humanitarian relief to respond to the humanitarian devastation in Gaza
  • Call for the end to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank
  • Support South Africa’s application to the ICJ to investigate the State of Israel for possible genocide
  • Immediately implement a two-way embargo of arms’ and military equipment’s trade with Israel
  • immediately suspend all military and financial support of the Israeli government and its military
  • To review its recent immigration rules for the Palestinians fleeing death which have discriminatory application requirements and change them to be equitable to that for other peoples escaping wars, such as what was done for the Ukrainians for example
  • Work towards a political and peaceful solution in the region that respects the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.

UNE will:

  • Join more than 1,000 international organizations and unions in supporting South Africa’s application to the ICJ accusing the State of Israel of genocide.
  • Join other unions in supporting and applying the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign, including working on divesting funds in the federal public service pension, which has $637 million invested in companies complicit in Israel’s aggression.

The UNE would also like to take this opportunity to offer our heartfelt sympathies to everyone impacted by this crisis. Closer to home, we acknowledge that many of our members are experiencing profound pain and anxiety due to the ongoing violence. We also recognize that some members may be directly affected since they are terrified for their relatives and loved ones who are living in the region.

The UNE and its members condemn all acts of violence against civilians. We also condemn the alarming rise of Islamophobia, antisemitism, anti-Arab racism, and anti-Palestinian racism in Canada and around the world. We encourage informed and respectful dialogue and support meaningful peace and justice initiatives.

The UNE stands in committed solidarity with all people being denied basic and advanced human rights, which include workers’ rights – and we call on the Canadian government to stand for the same.

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