Happy Spring to all members.
We are still awaiting arbitration decisions for the AD, AS, CS, OP and PG groups. We understand the frustration of this long process, but the Board does not have a deadline that it has to abide by. We have communicated with our nominee and expressed the members’ concerns over the length of time for decisions. I would like you all to know that all issues were arbitrated (argued by both sides), no proposals were mediated. We will post news on the website as soon as we have any.
Joan Van Den Bergh and I attended the PIPSC and NRC arbitration hearing on April 8. Most issues were mediated prior to the hearing. The NRC proposed changes to the WFA language with regard to severance was arbitrated. Decisions for the PIPSC groups were released on May 7 and May 8. It appears that the majority of the Employer’s proposals were awarded.
As you are aware, there were changes to the Public Service Heath Care Plan announced on March 26, 2014. I wanted to make you aware of how this process was undertaken. These changes were arrived at through a consultation process, not a negotiation. Treasury Board is the ultimate authority with respect to the PSHCP. As such, it determines the plan’s contribution levels and coverage amounts. It consults with the bargaining agent and pensioner representatives on the PSHCP Partners Committee, which can make recommendations in this regard; however, Treasury Board is free to accept or reject those recommendations and, ultimately, decides what changes will be put in place. The Conservative budget in February 2014 made their intention clear that they intended to increase pensioners’ PSHCP premium contribution rates to 50%. The public service unions and the National Association of Federal Retirees (FSNA) were firmly opposed to this. This is the perspective from which the unions and FSNA entered into talks with the government and reached an agreement that, as imperfect as it is, certainly constitutes an improvement over the government’s original intention. Without this intervention by union and pensioner representatives, there is no doubt whatsoever that the government would have imposed its proposed changes and would not have agreed to any enhancements to the Plan.
Joan Van Den Bergh and I travelled to St. John’s and Halifax the first week of May. Thank you to the members who came to the meetings, it was great for me to meet you all. Thank you to our stewards in those locations for all your help and organization. In St. John’s I had a tour of the facility; it was fascinating. In Halifax we were at the main campus and also toured the Marine Research Station facility in Ketch Harbour, both locations were also impressive. The diversity, talent, devotion and knowledge of the membership is, to say the least, outstanding.
I had three meetings with the other bargaining agents over the past few weeks. The communication and mobilization committee is an open forum for bargaining agents to discuss aspects of communication about employer matters, government agencies and federal department issues. We are all of the theory that open communication between federal unions is the only way to proceed. The two other meetings were with the union presidents and/or representatives. These meetings are always resourceful and essential.
Please contact me or the office at any time with questions, concerns, or comments.