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.

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.

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.

UNE Local at Best Theratronics Votes 100% for Strike Vote

Join us in support of our UNE members at Best Theratronics this Friday, May 10, 2024.

Members will officially be on strike and on the picket line starting at 6:30am. Please come and show your support anytime between then and 11:30am.

When: May 10, 2024

Where: 413 March Rd, Kanata, ON K2K 0E4. 

More information to follow.         

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. 

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.

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.