2016 will mark the 50th anniversary of the RCEA as your bargaining agent. Founded in 1966 the RCEA become the certified bargaining agent following the implementation of the Public Service Staff Relations Act (PSSRA). Because of unions, public service workers in Canada have decent pay, benefits and pensions. Unions also fought to give workers proper safety and health regulations in the workplace, maternity and paternity leave, public pensions, health care and child care.
It is with great pride that I announce that I have been acclaimed as your President for a second term and another 3 year mandate. I welcome this opportunity to once again represent the membership. I feel confident that we will continue to make significant contributions for our members and the National Research Council.
With a new Federal government and new leadership at the NRC, I am hopeful that going forward will truly mean “forward”. The past several years have been difficult for the NRC and members, but I truly hope that things will improve. Members tell me that they are excited about returning to research and they look forward once again to taking pride in their scientific commitment to Canada.
Negotiations for our 6 bargaining groups have been delayed for a number of reasons. The federal election last year meant the new government had to re-evaluate the state of bargaining. The RCEA along with the other 17 federal unions continue to oppose changes to your sick leave and short term disability benefits. The unions believe that the existing system, with certain modifications, is sufficient to manage the Public Service sick leave plan. So far, the new government seems intent on pursuing, with some modifications, the proposals of the previous Conservative government. The Liberal government election promises, however, to repeal parts of Bill C-4 and Bill C-59 will be beneficial to our members. Under Bill C-4, bargaining was skewed in favour of the government, deeming which unions could and could not turn to arbitration or strike if a bargaining dispute occurred. Bill C-4 also removed any impartiality in arbitration as it too favoured the government. Union input into the designation of essential workers, workers who are not allowed to strike, was also repealed. Bill C-59 provided the authority for the Government to establish and modify terms and conditions of employment related to the sick leave of Public Service employees. It would have allowed the government to legislate a short-term disability plan outside of collective bargaining, and to modify the long-term disability programs in the public service. By repealing this Bill, the new government has put this issue back to where it properly belongs, which is at the bargaining table.
Please join the RCEA staff, your stewards, fellow members and myself at your Annual General Meeting, Tuesday, October 18, 5 p.m. The RCEA 2016 audit, conducted by Deloitte in August 2016, indicated that the RCEA’s continued diligence of financial restraints is paying off. Our budget was upheld and overall costs were kept down. For a copy of the financial audit please contact email@example.com.
The AGM is an opportunity to update the entire membership on the past year’s activities. Agenda items will also include negotiations, RCEA constitution and upcoming vote, and a Q&A. There are 3 ways to join us, in person, on tele-conference or via live streaming, with a live chat area for questions.
I would like to thank the membership for your support during my first term. I look forward to the challenges and accomplishments we will all face in the next 3 years. It is my honour and privilege to represent you.
Cathie Fraser, President