Vol. 6, No. 3
Our campaign for public services needs to be smart, focused and united
PSAC members deliver valuable public services that are at the very heart of what defines Canada.
Any way you cut it, it's not an easy time for those of us who deliver public services.
We are all affected by the cuts to public services and programs.
PSAC members deliver valuable public services that are at the very heart of what defines Canada: services like food inspection, employment insurance, Old Age Security, environmental protection, preservation of parks and historic sites, search and rescue, assistance to veterans, support for our troops, border security and transportation safety.
Over 18,000 of our union members have received affected letters since April of this year.
I believe our We Are All Affected campaign is striking the right chord. It will remain the PSAC's primary campaign for the next three years.
For this campaign to be effective, we need to be smart, focused and united.
Smart means giving members the tools and opportunities to speak up and tell your story. It means talking to neighbours, friends and local businesses about the services we provide and what the cuts will mean to them.
Focused starts with a common understanding of what we are up against, and building on our strengths. It means keeping your eye on the prize: strong public services for all Canadians.
United starts with a common understanding that an injury to one is an injury to all, and a commitment to working together under a common PSAC banner. It means working with our allies as never before.
I firmly believe we are under attack by the government because we deliver quality public services, and the government does not believe in those services. And we as a union – and the labour movement in general – remain the greatest obstacle for governments and their allies to implement their anti-democratic agenda. We will continue to fight to uphold our rights and protect the services we provide.
With the power of our members, I know we are up to the task.
In Solidarity, Robyn Benson, National President
Reaching out to members via social media
There are new ways to connect with our president:
- Keep in touch and comment via Robyn's new Facebook Page: facebook.com/RobynBensonPSACAFPC
- Get the latest info about important issues by following Robyn on Twitter: @BensonRobyn: twitter.com/BensonRobyn
Andrew (Andy) Stewart, a founding member of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, died at the age of 79 in Ottawa on August 22, 2012. Andrew entered the federal public sector at the Canada Department of Agriculture Research Station in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and was elected 1st Vice-President of the Canada Agriculture National Employees Association in 1960. Andrew went on to serve the entire PSAC membership as its National President from 1976 to 1982. In retirement, Andrew's commitment to the union movement never wavered. He will be sorely missed.
PSAC working to get fair contracts for members across Canada
TC, FB and CFIA teams file for Public Interest Commissions
Bargaining teams for the FB group, the TC group and the CFIA group have filed for Public Interest Commissions to resolve outstanding items in bargaining for their new collective agreements.
A Public Interest Commission (PIC) under the current labour legislation is similar to the Conciliation Board under the old Public Service Staff Relations Act. The two bargaining teams will appear before the PIC and each party will present its rationale for the proposals that are still on the bargaining table.
The role of the PIC is to review the submissions and make recommendations to the Employer and to the Union within 30 days of the hearing. Although the recommendations are not binding, it is hoped that both parties will be guided by the recommendations to a fair and decent collective agreement.
For more information, check out the bargaining section of our website: http://ow.ly/eVMg8
PSAC-UTE begin bargaining with Canada Revenue Agency
PSAC-UTE presented its package of bargaining proposals to CRA in September. We made it clear to management that our union is determined to achieve new protections and rights in this round of bargaining, rights and protections that in many areas reflect what has already been agreed to for other unionized workers in the federal public sector. We also explained to CRA that we are opposed to the cuts that are being implemented by the Agency and the government, and that we are hopeful that the Agency will work with us in this round to improve working conditions for PSAC-UTE members at CRA.
Get updates on bargaining at: http://ow.ly/f2ajq
Fair deal sought at Canada Post
Bargaining with the Canada Post Corporation began in September with PSAC-UPCE tabling a series of comprehensive proposals. Canada Post has taken a disappointing stance by proposing a number of concessions. The corporation's “vision” is a two-tier world of different provisions for different workers, including on issues such as job security, vacation leave, post-retirement benefits and pensions. The PSAC-UPCE bargaining team is not interested in the corporation's all-or-nothing approach, and expects it to bargain fairly by considering each of the union's proposals on their own merits.
Stay informed about the latest bargaining developments by visiting our website: http://ow.ly/eVMmY
Workers at St. John's International Airport seek fair wages
After unsuccessful talks facilitated by a federal mediator, workers at St. John's International Airport have been on strike since September 11, 2012 to ensure there are no concessions related to job security, contracting out of bargaining unit work, their pension and health benefit plan, as well as staffing.
Members of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees are fighting to achieve a fair and equitable agreement that reflects the important work they do. The workers are seeking a wage increase that would bring them in line with comparable international airports and the strong and the healthy economic situation of both the St. John's region and their employer.
Too many Canadians, including PSAC members, suffer from mental health issues. Often they suffer alone without adequate treatment.
Mental illness affects us all in our homes, in our communities, in our workplaces. Employers at all levels have a responsibility to ensure that their workplaces do not contribute to mental illness. Regrettably, many workplaces increase mental health problems.
For more information and resources visit our website: http://ow.ly/eVMpB
On June 15th, 2012, PSAC filed a grievance with respect to the failure of many departments to abide by the alternation provisions in the workforce adjustment appendices, and the failure on the part of the employer as a whole to establish a system that works across departments.
We are asking that the employer establish a cross-departmental alternation system immediately and that they consult with PSAC with regards to this. We are also asking that the 120 days time period to find alternation opportunities restart once an alternation process has been established.
The employer has demonstrated no appetite to create a cross-departmental alternation system that is transparent and workable or in extending the alternation period for employees who have opted for the one year surplus period.
Consequently we have referred this grievance to arbitration, and are hoping to accelerate the process to the extent possible. Although we are worried that possible procedural delays may mean that some current opting employees will not be able to access alternation opportunities, we are also of the firm opinion that the limited measures that Treasury Board appears to be willing to take will be of no assistance either.
Protecting members during downsizing
In addition to the grievance on alternation, PSAC has filed several grievances to protect members' rights during downsizing. For more information on your rights under the workforce adjustment appendix, go to: www.psac.com/wfa
Many critical public services cut by the Conservative government are already having a profound impact on Canadians across the country. Here is just a small sample of the impact these cuts are having on our communities.
How are you affected by the cuts? Are you someone who works in a federal government office? Are you someone who relies on a government service that has been cut? Is a family member losing their job? Are you a small business owner who counts government workers as your customers?
Canadians reflect on how federal cuts affect them directly
Canadians across the country talk about the cuts affecting their communities and their personal lives. Here is what some of them had to say.
Speak out about cuts to public services
Canadians have a right to clear information from their government about what federal public services are being cut and how these cuts will affect them.
All members have the right to tell their union about how the cuts are affecting the services they provide. We encourage you to help PSAC tell Canadians about how these services are being affected.
The public needs to know before it's too late.
Contact your nearest local union representative, your Component office, or the PSAC regional office in your area if you have concerns or questions about your rights or if your management is attempting to restrict your rights.
Guidelines for free speech in the workplace
Every PSAC member has the right to freedom of expression and other civil and political rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, members also must balance these rights against their obligations under the Treasury Board Values and Ethics code and their respective organization's code if one exists.
Before you speak out, here are a few things to consider:
- Are you engaged in a private or a public discussion?
- What is your role during the conversation – union officer or employee?
Here's how to determine where the boundaries lie:
Public – Is the message being recorded or published? For example, most social networks, media interviews, letters to the editor, town hall meetings and Facebook posts that are not screened are considered public spaces. It is always best to assume when talking to the media that your statements are “on the record.”
Private – A conversation where you are sharing information in confidence and are not being recorded. If you're not sure, ask.
You should never say things about your employee or co-workers that are insulting, demeaning, discriminatory or threatening.
Pension changes an attack on the next generation of public service workers
In its omnibus budget bill, the government is ramming through changes to the public sector pension plan. These amendments unilaterally alter public sector pension plans and include increasing the normal retirement age from 60 to 65 for new hires beginning in 2013.
Another change in the bill is that now, public service workers are going to be paying 50% of the contributions to the public service pension plan. Like all responsible employers, the federal government will also pay 50%.
PSAC opposes this bill because it is an attack on younger generations who make up the majority of new hires in the public service. The increase in the retirement age will generate a two tier system, creating inequities between young and older workers in the public service, forcing younger workers to retire at an older age.
PSAC is calling on the government to focus on strengthening pensions for all Canadians instead of weakening pension plans and retirement security for Canadians dedicated to public service.
Past service in Canadian Forces now counts for vacation leave
Thanks to the PSAC's advocacy work, former members of the Canadian Forces are now able to bring their vacation entitlement with them when they join the federal public service. On July 19, 2012, PSAC and Treasury Board signed a memorandum of agreement amending the PA, SV, TC, FB and EB collective agreements to recognize service in the Canadian Forces for the purpose of calculating vacation leave entitlement.
More details online: http://ow.ly/eVNEY
Progress on Essential Services Agreements for Treasury Board and Agency units
Essential Services Agreements (ESAs) are nearly settled for a number of PSAC bargaining units and negotiations continue for other bargaining units. Essential services are the services, facilities, or activities deemed necessary for safety or security of the public that the Government of Canada would continue to provide in the event of a strike. Since the new labour relations legislation (the Public Service Labour Relations Act) came into force, the union and the employer have had to negotiate new essential services agreements. ESAs must be reached before a bargaining unit can strike.
More details on collective agreements that expire before 2013 are available online: http://ow.ly/eVNK8
PSAC wants Bill C-45 opened up to public debate
Once again, the Conservative government is pushing through hundreds of pages of major legislative changes without consulting Canadians.
PSAC has major concerns with Bill C-45, the latest budget implementation bill. We voiced similar concerns with the first omnibus budget bill in the spring, Bill C-38. Our concerns echo the criticism being expressed by the opposition parties, environmental, scientific and Aboriginal groups. We join the call for Bill C-45 to be split into parts and debated separately.
Many of these legislative changes will have a drastic impact on Canadians and should not be rushed through Parliament without time for careful consideration, public scrutiny and debate. See PSAC's full review of both omnibus bills at weareallaffected.ca
Members taking action across the country
September 15 photo gallery
- PSAC North Region
- PSAC National Capital Region
- PSAC Atlantic Region
- PSAC Québec Region
- Sudbury, ON - PSAC Ontario
- Trenton, ON - PSAC Ontario
- Kingston, ON - PSAC Ontario
- Kitchener - Waterloo, ON - PSAC Ontario
- Toronto, ON - PSAC Ontario
- Calgary - PSAC Prairies
- Winnipeg - PSAC Prairies
- Edmonton - PSAC Prairies
- Saskatoon - PSAC Prairies
- Vancouver - PSAC BC
- Surrey, BC - PSAC BC
We are in the news
We took on the secrecy of the government's cuts to jobs and the services that PSAC members provide in the media.
We defended – and continue to defend – job security provisions so that PSAC members are not booted onto the street with 2 weeks notice, but given strong transition support measures.
The government failed to ensure those who wanted to stay could swap with those who were ready to leave the public service. So we took them on and filed grievances on their failure to prepare a proper alternation process.
We deployed our team across the country to explain members' rights under workforce adjustment and developed the tools members need on our website so that you can make the right decision during down-sizing.
Jobs and the economy
We commissioned independent reports in BC, the Atlantic and nationally that demonstrated the negative economic consequences of cutting government programs and services.
We partnered with municipalities, provinces and other stakeholders to stand up for strong federal services across Canada.
Mental health advocacy
We called for a national mental health strategy to push the government to take the current mental health epidemic seriously and deal with its root causes.
Pay equity court win
We continued the legal battle for pay equity in the courts and won a historic settlement at the Supreme Court against Canada Post.
We negotiated stronger contracts for thousands of workers in the federal government, provincially regulated organizations and in territorial governments so PSAC members can benefit from job protections and decent working conditions in these tough economic times.
Our legal team defended the rights of individual PSAC members and fought back discrimination for family status, racial discrimination and other violations in the workplace.
And that's just what we did last year!
Don't forget what we have achieved together in the past:
- Pay equity
- Paid maternity and parental leave
- Decent wages for middle class families
- Job security protections
- A strong pension plan
- Supportive leave provisions and flexible work arrangements
Sign up for our e-newsletter
Visit www.psac.com/signup for more information on union services and how we can work together for a better workplace.
Date Modified : 2012/12/17