March 2012 – President’s Report
I believe that communication is a required ingredient in creating cohesion and effectively moving the Local towards meeting the needs of the majority while ensuring the rights of the minority are protected and considered. Often, for varied reasons, Local executives may lose the pulse of the membership they represent because communication is guarded and the focus is on burning issues.
CUPE national provides a nice online service that allows each Local to create and manage its own on-line presence. Please check out this website. I would encourage every member to sign up for a free CUPE email address. We may decide to utilize this convenient method of communication for some campaigns, educational opportunities, planning, or whatever as needed. Whether or not you decide to provide CUPE the information required to obtain an email address, you can still access the membership section. The websitecurrently provides some information about us, has our current CBA, and lists our executive. Please sign in as follows to access a member only section.
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This section cannot be accessed by the general public. However, anyone can sign in who guesses or who possesses the above credential. If needed, we can change the password. However, anyone signing in by the above method will not have the ability to add or modify its contents. Administrator access is limited to the executive. We intend to post minutes, reports, and items that may be of interest to CUPE 3761, but which we do not want to be accessible on the general website. Anything that the membership would like to see on our webpage will be considered by the executive. CUPE National allows us to post almost anything we think is appropriate, though they may strike out anything that they feel may put them in a liable position.
The new Local Executive has had twoJUMMs with SUN and one executive meeting via teleconference at the time this report has been written. The following is an update that we would like to share with you. We have also had one special meeting that was handled by way of an email broadcast.
The last JUMM that occurred with the previous executive occurred on December 6, 2011.
The next executive meeting will review the minutes from the last. Once accepted, those minutes will be posted on the CUPE 3761 website. Currently, we are advocating doing the same with the JUMM meetings and are waiting whether SUN Management feels that is always appropriate. In the past, these minutes were not readily shared. Instead we relied on verbal reports and the discussions at the AGM to keep our members updated.
SUN may request that any minutes posted provide only a summary of decisions and actions. There may be items that are time-sensitive that the Employer may request we keep “in-camera” until they have formalized a decision. The Local values the Employer’s openness at these JUMMs and has worked hard over the years to garner the trust that provides the Employer some confidence to ask our opinion on sensitive matters. CUPE, by engaging in these conversations, can have advance input to ensure that the CBA and Union principles are upheld.
Some of the current issues being discussed at the JUMM include the possibility of an actual pension plan, harassment training, work of the bargaining unit, the vacation policy, wellness, and mileage.
I would encourage any member who has an interest in any subject to speak with any of the Executive members for a better update, or to provide some information we may want to consider in shaping our response. As well, we invite members to raise other issues of concern for the executive to consider.
Here is a quick summary of the issues:
The exploration of an actual Pension Plan flowed from the last round of negotiations. It appears that we may be able to join SHEPP as other like Locals have done in the past. To do this, we will need SAHO to recognize us as able to, the SUN board will have to endorse it, and we will have to accept the conditions as imposed by SHEPP with the knowledge that SHEPP may amend the plan from time to time. SHEPP is a defined benefit that provides a guaranteed income upon retirement based upon their formula and parameters. None of the barriers above have as yet been overcome, but it appears that they are not insurmountable. The employer wanted CUPE to poll its members and see if
CUPE has asked, and SUN has agreed, that the previous committee that had been exploring the possibility of a pension plan continue to do so, to see if they can put together a likely scenario that can be costed, and allow our members to make an informed decision. It has been generally agreed that any movement to a DB plan cannot either cost or save the Employer any money without it becoming a bonafide subject of bargaining in subsequent rounds. We believe the following is true. So, in summary we have generally agreed that:
What is unclear is whether we can only join on a go-forward basis or if we will have the ability to purchase previous service with SUN. We will need to know what it means to our members who currently have a right to not divert any of their earnings to their pension plan. It is likely that this process will take time and there will not likely be a change to the current arrangement in the near future. CUPE hopes to have a comprehensive written proposal that can be provided before any vote takes place.
Harassment has been a concern of many members; this concern is shared both by the executive and the leadership of SUN. The issue has been dealt with in several JUMMs and the last Occupational Health and Safety meeting. We believe we have an absolute right to an injury-free workplace. It is a goal that cannot be achieved unless we address negative behaviours in the workplace, whether they are initiated by ourselves, a colleague, or a manager. It should not matter if the behaviours are directed laterally towards other in-scope members, vertically by management toward members, or by members towards managers; none of these forms of harassment are acceptable.
CUPE is supporting Harassment training for all staff and managers with the expectation of creating and maintaining a safe workplace. We are hopeful this will be happen in the near future. The golden rule is to approach the person who may have said something that you perceived as being harassing in nature, and ask them to stop. If you do, and the behavior continues, it becomes harassment. If you do, and the behavior does stop, you have some reassurance you work in a respectful workplace. The hardest part of discerning harassment is when it comes within the framework of industrial relations. When my boss asks me to do something I may not want to do, have not done, or do not feel I should, that is not harassment. But, if they deliver their directions inappropriately, it may well be. Often we fixate on what we are being asked to do (management’s right to direct the workforce) and not on how we are asked (our right to be treated respectfully).
With the golden rule, if you do not feel safe approaching that person, there is a problem. Utilizing the Employer’s policy would require bringing your concern to the appropriate manager. That may not always be appropriate or possible. The Employer is working with the Local to fine tune their policy to allow more informal and timely resolutions and to allow the managers to address like concerns. Respectful workplaces require respect in both directions and at all times.
Work of the Bargaining Unit
Bargaining unit work falls under two concerns. The first concern is whether all the current Out-Of-Scope positions are really OOS as per The Trade Union Act. Currently one position is adjourned Sine Die in front of the Labour Relations Board. CUPE has asked SUN to consider a process to resolve that dispute and are waiting for SUN to reply.
The second concern is having the OOS managers do work that may have been historically done by the unit, or by utilizing contractors to do that work. The Local often has members who will express a concern. The Employer is normally very open about its initiatives and has taken steps in the last couple of years to communicate their actions and intentions more openly. Often this occurs at the Monday Morning Meeting, by e-mail, or is raised at JUMMs or directly to the executive. When we forward our concerns to the Employer, they ask for specific examples. This is difficult to provide without identifying the source. As such, discussions can be somewhat guarded.
That said, the employer has committed to utilizing our staff wherever possible and in the case they do not have available staff or staff without the proper skills, they may hire that work out. When they do, they will encourage and support current members in their professional development to gain those skills, and often pair those staff members with the contractors so they may learn the skills.
The Vacation Policy
The Vacation Policy requires elements of communication. The Employer is asking that any staff member who has a question regarding vacation or wellness to speak to their director before assuming there has been an issue. The policy allows them some flexibility. Every issue I brought forward to the appropriate director was resolved without a vacation request being denied. If we feel the policy is being unfairly implemented, we should discuss and where needed grieve. If the policy really is as the employer states, just trying to ensure all our members some time off in the summer, it is hard to argue against it in principle.
The Wellness Policy
Similar discussions can go a long way in understanding the wellness program. Ask your director if an activity or item or program not identified on any of the 4 lists is covered before you purchase it. If we try to argue after the fact, it is much more difficult. Many hours went into making of the lists and they need to be given some respect. The lists are far from complete, and as such will lead to disputes should we try to put forth receipts they believe do not qualify. At the end of the day, we can grieve, but the grievance becomes moot should we exercise the benefit for something else that is covered later in the year.
Please do not expect a threepage report every three months. I will try to keep you updated and am hoping that the website will assist.
Feel free to call upon us at anytime.
Don MacDonald, President, on behalf of the CUPE 3761 Executive