Flags up!

UNE members showed up in numbers, joining other federal unions at a rally in front of Ottawa City Hall to protest the government’s recent plan to force employees back to unprepared, inefficient, expensive offices more days per week.

On Thursday, May 23, Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe hosted a breakfast with Treasury Board President Anita Anand, who recently announced a plan to force workers back to the office three days per week.

Ottawa’s Mayor, Ontario’s Premiere and the federal government believe this is a plan to restore the downtown economy.

This, simply, is not the answer.

PSAC-UNE 70369 joins strike at Best Theratronics

The PSAC local at Best Theratronics is on strike as of 6:30 a.m. Friday. The 12-member unit will be joining Unifor 1514 members who have been on strike since May 1 against the same employer.

PSAC-UNE 70369 members voted unanimously to take strike action should the offer on the table not drastically improve.

The employees have not seen a wage increase since June 2022, where for that same year, their wages were 24-26% behind direct comparators who work at BWXT and Nordion, which also has members represented by PSAC.

“It’s been clear that this employer just isn’t showing up to the bargaining table with a serious mandate to bargain,” said Alex Silas, Regional Executive Vice-President of PSAC in the National Capital Region. “Whether that’s bargaining with our members at local 70369 or the Unifor local 1514, that both groups have had to resort to strike votes to try to achieve any movement at the table speaks volumes.”

PSAC-UNE 70369 has been in bargaining since May 2023 and their collective agreement expired in March that same year. The bargaining team tabled monetary demands and wages in September and the employer has refused to put anything further on the bargaining table with the stipulation that they do not have a monetary mandate from the sole owner of the company.

PSAC filed for conciliation in February and in March conciliation took place. The employer asked for more time to secure a new monetary mandate and had nothing new to offer at conciliation.

“We were optimistic that things could change in conciliation, but the employer seemed to show up unprepared,” said Alisha Kang, National President of UNE. “Since then, the employer has been crying poor all while sending confusing emails to the workplace that can only be perceived as intimidation.”

On April 22, PSAC hosted a rally with Unifor, BWXT and Nordion workers who are located nearby and helped strengthen the sectoral visibility and solidarity between atomic energy workers in Kanata.

On May 1, Unifor 1514 went out on strike, with PSAC-UNE 70369 members joining to show their solidarity during breaks.

PSAC members furious over three-day in-person mandate, union to pursue legal action

Today, with blatant disregard for the wellbeing of its workers, the government announced that come September, federal public service workers will be required to be in-office a minimum of three days per week.

PSAC members are incredibly frustrated and angered by this announcement. In every corner of the country, we have seen how the current in-office requirements aren’t being consistently or equitably managed by most departments.

We hear time and time again from workers obligated to report to offices where instead of conducting in-person work, they spend all day on virtual meetings with colleagues across the country.

In many offices our members are regularly forced to camp out in cafeterias or cram into awkward hallway meetings because of a shortage of available workspaces, and these problems will only continue to pile up.

Despite this, Treasury Board confirmed on a call today with bargaining agents that they are planning to proceed with reducing 50% of existing government office space. Their decision is not just a misstep; it’s a failure by Canada’s largest employer to adapt, innovate, and truly lead in the face of change to the way work is done.

As recently as last week, PSAC and other unions specifically requested an update at the National Joint Council about the allegations that there may be a change to the policy. Treasury Board officials blatantly misled unions, denying any upcoming announcements about telework.

In addition, as part of PSAC’s agreement in the last round of negotiations, Treasury Board was obligated to consult with the union with the purpose of reviewing the outdated Directive on Telework. However, at no point during those discussions was there any indication of an increase to in-office attendance.

This decision has not only broken the trust between PSAC members and their employer, but very concretely, it violates the collective bargaining rights of thousands of workers.

Telework is currently a critical issue at the table for the FB group, currently holding strike votes across the country for more than 9,000 members at Canada Border Services Agency. Any changes to their terms and conditions of work while bargaining directly undermines their collective bargaining rights.

In response, PSAC will be filing an unfair labour practice complaint and examining additional legal options.

PSAC will be updating members and taking further action in the coming days. 

UNE Young Workers Shine at First Conference; UNE To create first ever Young Workers Committee

UNE youth members gathered from April 18-21 for the first ever Young Workers Conference and left on Sunday looking forward to the next.

“You could feel the energy at registration on Thursday and it lasted all weekend long,” said UNE national president Alisha Kang. “The future of our union, our workforce, showed their strength and desire to make positive change.”

In the midst of networking opportunites, educational workshops and captivating guest speaker appearances, Allison Fraser, Vice-President of Local 80178, put the question to those gathered; why don’t the young workers have more voice within UNE?

The UNE president quickly came to the mic and declared the creation of the first ever UNE Young Workers Standing Committee.

Allison and her peers were impressed with how quickly their voices were heard.

“Better representation leads to better engagement and supports the union’s future success. Giving a voice to the younger demographic in our membership helps foster intergenerational solidarity and creates a mentorship environment that welcomes new members. Young workers have a unique perspective and different needs than older union members. By encouraging young members to take on leadership roles in the union as they advance in their careers, the union remains relevant and appealing to its new members.”

Ryan Lipski, who was on the steering committee for the conference, was happy to see their vision come to fruition:

“This conference encapsulates the power of young workers in standing up and advocating for the future they want for their union, their workplaces, and their communities.”

The next Young Workers Conference will be held during the next mandate, sometime after the triennial Convention in 2026.

Rally for Best Theratronics Members

There will be a lunchtime union rally April 22 from 12 – 1 p.m. to show our support for our bargaining team and to chat about questions you may have about bargaining, next steps, strike votes, and more.  

When: April 22, 12 – 1 p.m. 
Where: 413 March Rd, Kanata, ON K2K 0E4.  

We will have food and refreshments so you can attend and get something to eat during your lunch break. 

As the employer continues to stall at the bargaining table, it’s important we start mobilizing and taking action now to show that we’re serious about our demands and want to get a fair deal.  

Are we allowed to rally on our lunch breaks? 

Yes! Members have the right to be kept informed during non-work time, before or after shifts and during paid and unpaid breaks and lunch periods. This means members have the right to participate in rallies and other union actions during your breaks as well as before or after work. 

Hope to see you there! 

UNE Stands in Solidarity with Civilian Workers at Canadian Military Bases

The following op-ed by UNDE National President June Winger was published by the Ottawa Citizen on April 1, 2024.

Imagine you’re part of a team that is crucial to keeping our military’s morale high and their families supported. You run programs that keep them fit, manage stores where they shop, and you’re there — day in and day out — ensuring they have what they need. Now, imagine being told repeatedly your hard work is valued, but you just won’t be fairly compensated for it.

This is what’s at the centre of the standoff between Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) and more than 500 workers in Bagotville, Kingston, Montreal-St. Jean, Ottawa, Petawawa and Valcartier, who have been on the picket lines for more than two months.

CFMWS CEO Ian Poulter recently put out a letter with a “heartfelt call for understanding,” in which he talked about dedication and support for military families. But he seems to have forgotten who makes that all possible: the workers.

Poulter paints a picture of an unavoidable situation, where services to military families are being cut left and right because of the strike. But these workers aren’t on strike because they want to be; they’re on strike because they feel pushed into a corner, fighting for fair pay as the lowest-paid federal public service workers in the country.

CFMWS workers are mostly women, military spouses and veterans. They are already earning about half of what their colleagues earn, yet they’re being offered a mere four- per-cent-per-year pay increase. That’s not only below the Public Interest Commission‘s recommendation of 4.75 per cent, but also significantly less than the 6.8-per-cent bump higher-paid employees received last year. It’s not about wanting special treatment, it’s about demanding the same level of respect given to others. After all, don’t we all pay the same for our groceries and utilities?

The financial health of each military base — and by extension the broader military community — depends on fair treatment of all workers.

This is more than a strike. It’s a fight for respect, dignity, and recognition for the workers behind the services.

Striking workers have clearly said, “enough is enough.” If Poulter truly values the community CFMWS serves, he needs to start valuing those who make it all possible. At the end of the day, it’s not just programs and services that are at stake — it’s people. Workers who barely make minimum wage and are facing severe financial strain, with some even resorting to food banks.

The ball is in his court. Will he make a move towards understanding, negotiation and resolution, or will the impasse deepen, further straining the support for our troops and their families? The outcome will clearly show us whether the commitment to those who serve also extends to those doing the serving.

June Winger is the national president of the Union of National Defence Employees, which is a component union of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, representing more than 20,000 public and private sector workers at the Department of National Defence — including more than 500 striking CFMWS workers.

International Trans Day of Visibility

International Trans Day of Visibility is on March 31, 2024. It is an annual celebration of trans and non-binary people.

Rachel Crandell, a transgender activist from Michigan, created the day in 2009 to counterbalance the only day for trans people being Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR). It is important to celebrate the living as well as mourning the murdered.

International Trans Day of Visibility, and every day, is a time to celebrate trans and non-binary joy and their lives. Their human rights continue to be under attack with rising hate and anti-trans policies. They also face increased violence, especially racialized trans and non-binary people. We must celebrate their contributions to the community as well as fight discrimination against them.

StatsCan reports that “One in 300 people in Canada aged 15 and older are transgender or non-binary.” While you may not personally know a trans or non-binary person, they are your coworkers, family, friends, and community members. They have also been active in the Labour movement.

Danielle Palmer
UNE National Equity Representative for 2SLGBTQ+ People

UNE Local 70390 Bargaining Update: Arbitration Dates set

Last fall, negotiations between the House of Commons and UNE Local 70390 members in the Operational and Postal Services bargaining unit, reached an impasse. PSAC is going to arbitration before the Federal Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB).

The arbitration hearings will be taking place virtually on April 2 and 3. The hearings will be public.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/92111428891

Meeting ID: 921 1142 8891
Passcode: 439835

If you experience difficulties using Zoom, please contact FPSLREB_Admins@tribunal.gc.ca.

This dispute resolution step, part of the long and sometimes arduous negotiation process, is unfolding because of the unwillingness of the employer to accept some fundamental bargaining demands.

“As Canadians, we should  be ashamed to see the very halls of democracy treat their workers in this manner,” declared UNE National President Alisha Campbell. “When not even the House of Commons, the lower house of the Parliament of Canada, will play fair with its workers leading to arbitration, what hope do Canadian workers have at gaining better working conditions? Our dedicated members deserve their fundamental bargaining demands to be heard. If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they will get!”

Our members have brought forward the following demands at the bargaining table:

  • The implementation of a bilingual bonus
  • Increases of shift premiums similar to the ones various PSAC members receive
  • The possibility for seasonal House of Commons workers to apply for full-time positions

On top of these bargaining demands, the employer refuses to implement critical issues that PSAC successfully negotiated with Treasury Board last spring, such as:

  • Economic increase comparable to other bargaining units in the parliamentary precinct
  • Compensation for Phoenix damages that occurred in 2021
  • Compensation for the late implementation of the collective agreement
  • Expanded rights for family-related leave
  • Additional wage increases that reflect the ones received by other PSAC members who perform similar, sometimes identical tasks as the ones performed by our members
  • An additional personal day

If you have any questions about the hearing and the current dispute with the House of Commons, please contact your Local executive.

PA Group: PSAC files policy grievance against employer for mishandled transfer of members to Treasury Board

PSAC filed a policy grievance on March 12, 2024, for employer violations of several provisions in the PA collective agreement. Significant issues have come to light and former SSO members are being shortchanged by the employer.  

The move of 1,300 members in the Statistical Survey Operations group (SSO) to the Program Administrative Services (PA) bargaining unit under Treasury Board took place at the end of 2023. This was a welcome move that ensures all former SSO members—organized with PSAC since 2001—are covered under the recently negotiated PA collective agreement from PSAC’s last round of Treasury Board bargaining.  

Key issues affecting members  

  • Classification of part-time employees as shift workers, who are being offered very little hours with erratic schedules—the worst form of precarity that exists in the federal public service; 
  • Data Collection Clerks (DCCs) reclassification not on par with similar jobs in the core public administration; 
  • Members advised they need to complete a one-year probationary period despite their employment history; 
  • Discrepancies between collective agreement provisions and the Employer’s adherence to those negotiated rights and entitlements. 
  • Reduction in the hours of work across the country compared with hours before the move to PA 

Sections of the PA collective agreement that are being violated by the employer include: 

  • Article 25 Hours of work 
  • Article 26 Shift principle 
  • Article 27 Shift and weekend premiums 
  • Article 28 Overtime 
  • Article 65 Part-time employees 

Although the move was welcomed at the time, the employer is creating unnecessary stress for members in what should be a straightforward process, because of an inconsistent interpretation and violations of the PA collective agreement to members of the former SSO bargaining unit.    

The union is fighting to address these violations and calls on the employer to immediately act to make our members whole. 

Stay informed  

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