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.

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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  

Make sure your contact information is up to date and sign up to receive bargaining updates. 

Statistics Canada Data Collection Clerks (DCC) to receive overtime pay corrections

When the merger took place and the former Statistical Survey Operations (SSO) interviewers were offered positions with Statistics Canada, some indeterminate and some part-time, all were advised it would be business as usual with additional entitlements and benefits as core public service employees under the PA collective agreement recently negotiated between TBS and PSAC. Since November 23, 2023, our DCC members have encountered many unexpected obstacles.

UNE believes all former interviewers should be treated as either indeterminate full-time or part-time workers, whereas the employer disagrees and believes part-timers should be treated as “shift-workers” and therefore not entitled to all the part-timer benefits as described in the newly achieved collective agreement.

Although a small victory in a long battle, UNE has worked with the employer on an overtime provision that benefits UNE members making the move from SSO to Statistics Canada. After many meetings between the employer and UNE representatives, the union was notified February 5, 2024 that the employer has agreed to correct overtime entitlements as described in article 25.13 of the PA collective agreement.

Each region will be asked to create a list of interviewers who have worked more than 7.5 hours/day as well as for weeks where interviewers worked greater than 37.5 hours/week. Once the numbers are compiled, the corrections will be made and outstanding overtime will be paid. The employer has now agreed to make the corrections retroactively going back to

November 23, 2023.

The work continues as UNE believes that all former SSO interviewers should be entitled to the benefits outlined in the PA agreement and since none were shift workers prior to the merger and no Stats Can letters of offer indicated any change in status, none should be considered shift workers post-merger. Therefore, shift worker articles do not apply.

UNE will continue to work with the employer to ensure all PA collective agreement articles are applied fairly and not applied selectively as the employer wishes.

Parks Canada: Update on lump sum payment

As part of the collective agreement that PSAC negotiated during this round of bargaining for Parks Canada members,  the $2,500 pensionable lump-sum payment will be issued to all eligible members on January 31, 2024. 

  • See our FAQ for full details about eligibility for the lump sum payment. 

The employer has 180 days from the date of signing to action retroactive pay, the $2,500 pensionable lump-sum payment and implement wage increases, wage adjustments and allowances. All non-monetary terms of the collective agreement took effect immediately upon signing on September 26, 2023. 
Unfair labour practice fight ongoing  

PSAC filed an unfair labour practice against Parks Canada, arguing that members who completed their contracts between the date of ratification on August 4 and September 26, 2023, should also receive the $2,500 pensionable lump-sum payment that was negotiated in good faith at the table.  

Instead, Parks Canada delayed signing the agreement by almost two months after it was ratified by a majority of members. As a direct result of this delay, vulnerable term employees did not receive a benefit that they had just voted to accept. We will update members as soon as we have a decision on this complaint.  
Take action!  

Send a letter to the Minister of the Environment Stephen Guilbeault and President of the Treasury Board Anita Anand to push the employer to honour the collective agreement.  

Stay informed  

Make sure your contact information is up to datesign up to receive bargaining updates, and contact your regional office for more information.  

SSO workers transition to PSAC’s largest bargaining group

Last month, over 1,300 members in the Statistics Survey Operations (SSO) group transitioned to the Program and Administrative Services (PA) Treasury Board bargaining group.

All members that were part of the SSO group are now covered by the recently negotiated PA collective agreement. All issues, including outstanding issues prior to the transition, will be dealt with under the PA collective agreement going forward. This includes a review of the current structure of SSO locals and how best to integrate them into existing PA locals.

The Union of National Employees, PSAC’s component that represents workers at Statistics Canada, is working on this process and will communicate directly with locals as updates are available. UNE has also compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding interviewer appointments and additional information about severance calculations, and plans to organize virtual townhall meetings to determine what is working well and what needs to be improved in the coming months.

The decision to integrate SSO members into the core public administration is an important one that fully recognizes SSO members as federal public service workers who deserve better terms and conditions of employment including fair wages, improved job security, and better benefits. 

Joining the PA group will result in a stronger collective agreement, more bargaining power as part of PSAC’s largest bargaining group and allow SSO members to apply internally to positions across the federal public service. 

The PA group includes over 100,000 federal government workers responsible for program administration, information services, communications, secretarial services, office equipment, administrative services, welfare programs, clerical functions and data processing.

UNE Leadership Stands in Solidarity with FSE-CSQ

This week UNE leadership, attending a training and planning session, marched in solidarity with the Syndicat des enseignantes et enseignants des Laurentides (SEEL-CSQ). They are on a 3-day strike this week and will announce an unlimited strike soon if no fair deal is reached.  

“These workers have been offered crumbs while the province has given their parliamentary leaders cakes,” said UNE National President Alisha Campbell. ” We stand in solidarity with our union family members.” 

As a mark of solidarity, UNE will make a donation to SEEL-CSQ.

The members have been offered 10.3% over 5 years, which pales in comparison to the 30% raise Premier Legault gave his elected provincial politicians. 

For more information on this strike, you can read this FSE-CSQ press release (in French).

Bilingualism allowance review: Increase and expand

After the last round of negotiations between PSAC and Treasury Board, a review of the Bilingualism Bonus Directive was launched in October. The bargaining agents of the National Joint Council, of which PSAC is a member, have until April 2024 to provide their input.  

It is time to update and expand the Bilingualism Bonus Directive. Eligibility for the bilingual allowance has not been updated since 1993, and the amount that bilingual employees receive ($800) has not increased since 1977. Workers in the federal public service work hard to improve their language skills; 45 years without an update is insulting to their time and effort. 

PSAC is calling for three main changes: 

  1. A significant increase to the allowance. If the current amount were indexed to inflation, the bonus would now be worth more than $3,000 today.  
  2. A mechanism to increase the bonus on a yearly basis. As costs rise every year, the bonus should reflect that reality. 
  3. If the Official Languages Act (OLA) is updated to include languages other than English and French, for example Indigenous languages, these languages should also be eligible for an allowance. 

Bilingualism is a skill that should be encouraged. The employer must find ways to strengthen the OLA, making it easier for members to work in the language of their choice and improve their second language skills.  

The OLA designates both English and French as languages of work within the federal public service. If the government wants to have a truly dynamic, diverse, and bilingual institution, it must create an environment where employees are not only able to work in the language of their choice but encouraged to do so. 

Parks Canada bargaining: PSAC files unfair labour practice

PSAC has filed an unfair labour practice against Parks Canada Agency for refusing to provide seasonal and term workers the pensionable lump sum payment negotiated as part of the collective agreement signed September 26. 

Parks Canada blamed wildfires for the nearly eight-week delay in signing the collective agreement, causing many of the very PSAC members who were on the frontlines fighting these fires to lose out on receiving the $2,500 lump sum payment. For members to receive the lump sum payment, they must be in the bargaining unit when the collective agreement is signed.  Take Action

The delay means approximately 300 Parks Canada members who are term and seasonal workers will not receive the payment, including firefighters who battled wildfires, members in seasonal term positions at Canada’s historical sites, in the midst of a national housing crisis. Contracts for these workers typically end between late August and early September. 

The Parks Canada bargaining team has made it clear throughout this round of bargaining that this employer’s over-reliance on and abuse of term and seasonal workers is unnacceptable. Now, these same precarious workers will be burned again. 

PSAC will be arguing that members who have completed their contracts since the ratification on August 4 should receive the $2,500 pensionable lump-sum payment that was negotiated in good faith at the table. 

Stay informed  

Keep your contact information updated to date to receive the latest news.

Send a letter to the Minister of the Environment Stephen Guilbeault and President of the Treasury Board Anita Anand to push the employer to honour a collective agreement bargained in good faith.

Update on lump sum payment and retro pay for Treasury Board and CRA members

As part of the collective agreement PSAC secured during this round of bargaining, the $2,500 pensionable lump-sum payment will be issued on November 8 for all eligible PSAC members in the PA, SV, TC, and EB Treasury Board bargaining groups and PSAC-UTE members working for Canada Revenue agency.

See our FAQ for full details about eligibility for the lump sum payment.

Processing dates for retroactive pay and wage adjustments vary by bargaining group. Full details for each table are included below.

The employer had 180 days to action payments following the signing of the collective agreements this summer. All non-monetary terms of the collective agreement took effect immediately upon signing.

Program and Administrative Services (PA Group)

  • The new collective agreement was signed on June 27, 2023 and wage adjustments were reflected on the August 2 pay stub.
  • The retroactive pay was processed and issued on the October 25 pay stub, and the $2,500 pensionable lump-sum payment will be issued on November 8.

Operational Services (SV Group)

  • The new collective agreement was signed on July 11, 2023 and wage adjustments were reflected on the August 30 pay stub.
  • Retroactive pay will be processed and issued on the November 22 pay stub, and the $2,500 pensionable lump-sum payment will be issued on November 8.

Technical Services (TC Group)

  • The new collective agreement was signed on June 27, 2023 and wage adjustments were reflected on the August 2 pay stub.
  • The retroactive pay was processed and issued on the August 30 pay stub, and the $2,500 pensionable lump-sum payment will be issued on November 8.

Education and Library Science (EB Group)

  • The new collective agreement was signed on July 11, 2023 and wage adjustments were reflected on the August 30 pay stub.
  • Retroactive pay will be processed and issued on the November 22 pay stub, and the $2,500 pensionable lump-sum payment will be issued on November 8.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

  • The new collective agreement was signed on June 27, 2023 and wage adjustments will be effective November 1.
  • The $2,500 pensionable lump-sum payment will be issued on November 8.