It has been a busy month since I took office.  It has also been a real eye opener to see how much takes place daily in your union office.  Thank you to Joan, Laurette and Suzanne for making my transition so smooth.  I would like to provide a brief summary of activities since I became President.

On January 9, 2014 I attended my second meeting with the National Joint Council Bargaining Agents Side (BAS). This committee is composed of Federal union presidents and operating officers.  These meetings are held every 3 months, but it was determined, with the unprecedented changes in the Harper government and his tactics of Bill C-4 with the unions, that the BAS meetings will now be held every 6 weeks.  At the December meeting an in-house solidarity agreement was signed by all but one federal union President, which states in part “that as Presidents we will represent federal public employees and we as the Presidents, pledge to work together to defend the rights for our members.”  Also, a joint media statement was issued on December 10, 2013 detailing how all unions would join forces to challenge Bill C-4 which assaults collective bargaining rights and also undermines established workplace health and safety conditions. The link for this statement is at www.rcea.ca under Latest News December 2013.

Bill C-4 is a vast Conservative budgetary bill, which had a commencement date of December 12, 2013.  Within this Bill are sweeping changes to the rights and provisions of unions and collective bargaining, elimination of important human rights protections, and provisions that would make federal workplaces less safe.

Following are some of the changes in Bill C-4 and how they will impact RCEA members.

Collective Bargaining rights will shift drastically:

1. Changing notice to bargain from 4 months to 12 months.

2. Takes away a union’s dispute resolution of arbitration or conciliation (strike), to no choice of the dispute process. If less than 80% of employees are deemed essential it is automatic conciliation (strike) route unless both parties agree to arbitration (which is unlikely).

3. Employer has the right to designate essential positions as they see fit without the union’s input, and has the right to tell employees they have to perform all duties of the position not just the essential duties, including working nights and weekends.

4. Listing of factors if arbitration route is taken, adjudicators will now have to set out reasons for their decisions and “connect the dots”, one deciding reason has to be based on Canada’s fiscal circumstances relative to stated budgetary policies.

Changes to the Canada Labour Code:

1. Numerous health and safety workplace changes, one of which dilutes the definition of danger, as it narrows the number of circumstances an employee can refuse to work if they deem their workplace unsafe.

2. The end of Canada Labour Board employee investigations, all disputes now go to Minister’s office.

I attended a National Joint Council meeting with the bargaining agents and Treasury Board on December 4, 2013.  Numerous updates were given of various NJC committees.  One item of importance to RCEA members is sick leave and long and short term disability plans.  As you know, these items are under the Treasury Board’s microscope for huge changes in the next round of bargaining.

Other meetings included: LLMCC consultation committee, NCOSH, RCEA management, RCEA Finance Committee and 2014 budget with auditors, WFA grievance, RCEA Executive Committee, and a meeting with NRC President John McDougall.

On January 18, 2014 there were workforce adjustments at ASPM.  Stores throughout buildings in Ottawa will be closed by December 2014 and consolidated to two locations:  Sussex and M-19.  I called General Manager Frank Jefferies with a few concerns and questions I had about chemical storage and transportation, training of employees, and timeliness of deliveries.  If members have any questions or concerns please contact our office.

Members can find more information about their categories on the RCEA website:

AD, AS, CS and PG Arbitration Hearing, March 17-18, 2014.

OP Arbitration Hearing, March 19-20, 2014.

Location for both hearings: 240 Sparks Street, C.D. Howe Building, Ottawa, Rooms 710-711, 7th floor, West Tower.  Please note that if you wish to attend the meetings you will need to obtain a visitor’s pass from the Commissionaire’s desk, which is located on the ground floor entrance off 235 Queen Street.

TO notice to bargain was sent to NRC on January 15, 2014; this next round of bargaining for the technical group will be impacted by Bill-C-4.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact me or the RCEA office.

Sincerely

Cathie Fraser
President