PSAC members working at the Regina Airport have ratified their first collective agreement with the Airport Authority.
Early in the morning of August 17 as the clock was ticking towards a strike, the parties, with the assistance of a mediator, successfully concluded a four-year collective agreement which contains job security for all workers.
The agreement provides a 3% increase to all rates of pay effective July 1, 1999, July 1, 2000, July 1, 2001 and July 1, 2002. It also provides for wage equalization/market adjustment payments as follows:
- $5,000 to the base rate of the General Labour and Trades (GL) MDOs; $4,000 to the base rate of the GL VHEs; $3,000 to the remaining GL classifications;
- $2,500 to be applied to the base rate of the Firefighter (FR) group;
- $1,000 to be applied to the base rate of the PM/Admin groups.
Some of the other improvements include:
- no layoff and no contracting-out except in the event of unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the employer which may impact on the employer's ability to pay employees. However, if this happens the employer agrees to meet with the union to negotiate a resolution, thus ensuring there will be no layoff or contracting-out at that time;
- new definition for spouse which eliminates gender discrimination;
- new staffing procedure which provides for use of seniority when candidates are assessed as relatively equal;
- no disciplinary action against employees reporting any abuse of office - financial or otherwise (whistleblowing);
- no harassment and no other forms of discrimination and abuse of authority in the workplace;
- overtime of 11/2 times for first four hours in excess of normal daily hours of work and double time thereafter;
- Standby pay - one-half hour compensation for each four hour period;
- Bereavement leave - add grandparent and legal guardian to definition of immediate family;
- New language that ensures employer will solicit bids from Canadian unionized clothing manufacturers, preferably in Regina, and where cost and quality is better or relatively equal, preference will be given to the unionized manufacturer.
The expiry date for the new collective agreement is June 30, 2003.
PSAC members at the Charlottetown Airport were showing up for their first picket duty when they were handed a new offer from the Airport Authority. Within an hour they had reviewed it and subsequently said yes to their first collective agreement with the Airport Authority.
The four year agreement addressed the workers' prime concern - job security. The collective agreement states that the jobs and work or services presently performed or any future assignments to bargaining unit members shall not be sub-contracted, transferred, leased, assigned or conveyed to another corporation, person, non-unit employee or organization in such a manner as to result in layoff or reduction of work hours for bargaining unit members.
The agreement also provides for a no layoff or reduction in hours of work clause in addition to a significant market adjustment payment to each classification effective on date of signing. Effective July 13, 2000, rates of pay will be increased by 3%. In addition, rates will be increased by 3% in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In lieu of retroactive payment, the members will receive a $2,500 signing bonus.
Some of the other provisions in the agreement include:
- recognition of the right of employees to work in an environment free from sexual and personal harassment and other forms of discrimination;
- Standby Pay of $20 for each 8 consecutive hours or portion thereof;
- provision of uniforms and protective clothing or allowances on an individual basis to those employees who are required by the employer to wear them on duty;
- preference to be given by the employer to local unionized suppliers when purchasing uniforms and/safety apparel.
The new collective agreement will expire July 12, 2004.
I am writing in response to a number of inquires we have received from TIs with regards to the PSAC position at Table 3 negotiations, and in particular the issue of Terminable Allowances.
In this round of bargaining as in other rounds, we believe that our members are entitled to a fair wage that reflects the work they provide to Canadians. The wage freezes or general wage increases that fell well below the cost of living that you were forced to accept over the last decade were, for the most part, not arrived at through a process of true negotiations but by means of legislation or the threat of legislation. The net effect has been that all public sector workers have fallen behind in their standard of living relative to workers in other sectors of the economy. This erosion in member income, as well as the massive government downsizing, resulted not only in a reduction in the cost of providing the services but in a severe shortage of workers in many areas.
In an attempt to deal with the problems being experienced as a result of these shortages, UCTE, in late 1996/97, held a number of meetings with Transport Canada. The departments "problem of hiring and retention" is not the problem but " a symptom of not compensating employees what they are worth". Our message to the department at that time is the same as it is today: compensate employees fairly and the problems will be resolved. However, fair compensation is a relative term and there are a number of factors that determine what is fair. Two factors are value related to other positions and market comparability.
The new Universal Classification Standard (UCS) system was to address the issue of value. Over the past several years the PSAC, UCTE. and our members have invested a lot of time and resources into trying to put in place a classification system that reflects current realities. Unfortunately, the employer seems to have abandoned this exercise, thereby forcing us to work with a system that is incapable of determining relative value. Your union is doing everything it can to get this process back on track.
In the area of market comparability, without the Pay Research Bureau, which the government dissolved in the early 1990s, there is no objective body responsible for compiling and comparing pay levels across the public service and other sectors of the economy. Transport Canada’s solution to market comparators was to hire Price Waterhouse to conduct a study to deal with one particular segment of the Technical Inspector Community. While the study, released to the department in early 1998, accurately quantified the wage disparity in some areas of the TI group, we do not believe it accurately identified wage disparities within the whole community, or those disparities that exist outside the TI classification. This study was done in isolation and identified only those areas that the department wanted to identify.
Contrary to popular belief during the round of negotiations which followed the study it was your union, not the employer, that brought some of the figures forward, in an attempt to justify the pay position we had at the table. I emphasize some of the figures because Transport Canada and Treasury Board did everything in their power to keep this pay information from the union and our negotiating team. Although UCTE filed an Access to Information request through the department and a complaint to the Access to Information Commissioner we were not provided with a copy of the report until after negotiations were completed. The employer’s position in that round of bargaining was to pay terminable allowances to some members of the TI group. Our position was the same as it is today: compensation should not be terminable, it should be part of an employee’s salary that is negotiated and revised in each successive round of collective bargaining. During that round, the negotiating team gauged the mood of the members and determined that the employer’s last position on Terminable Allowances was the best that could be achieved. Clearly, that was not what we wanted as a portion of salaries. During the next round of negotiations, while our position was once again to try and achieve fair wages for all of our members, much the same process played out. The employer wasn’t going to move on some salaries being terminable and was not prepared to address the disparities that exist for all. Your negotiation team weighed the situation and determined that this was the best they could achieve. While it wasn’t everything they wanted, your team did its best based on the support the membership was prepared to give them.
The past is the past. During the current round of negotiations we have an opportunity to move forward.. Our position has certainly not changed: fair wages for all members. If we are to be successful in achieving this position we must have the support of all members. UCTE has two TI members on the negotiations team. It’s time to throw your support behind them. This support is particularly critical during Conciliation Board meetings in August. Keep abreast of what is happening by checking out the PSAC website at www.psac.com. or through the PSAC Regional Offices or UCTE Locals. If you have questions or concerns bring them to our attention so that we can deal with them.
Members at Charlottetown Airport ratified their first collective agreement with the Airport Authority on July 13, 2000, while their colleagues at Saskatoon Airport hit the picket lines the following day. Members at Edmonton and Regina airports set up information picket lines in support of their own bargaining demands and their brothers and sisters who are on strike in Saskatoon. Both Edmonton and Regina airport workers could join their Saskatoon colleagues in a full strike as early as mid-July.
"In the summer of 2000, airport negotiations have become particularly difficult, because of the unprecedented and unconscionable activities of the Canadian Airports Council. During the negotiations between the PSAC and the local airport authorities in both Charlottetown and Saskatoon, the Canadian Airports Council has tried to undermine the job security of our members," said PSAC National Executive Vice-President John Gordon. "The Canadian Airports Council will not succeed. When PSAC members in Charlottetown took to the picket line on July 13, local management quickly came to its senses, and agreed to a contract that provides full job security, protection against contracting-out, and no reduction in hours of work."
Richard Jasieniuk, President of Local 40404 of the PSAC's Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) at Saskatoon Airport said "When the Authority took over control of this airport in January 1999, they told us that they were going to be an employer of choice. I never expected that an "employer of choice" would force their employees to strike to obtain a fair collective agreement, or renege on agreed job security language as it is currently doing."
In Charlottetown, the members of UCTE Local 60295, showed up for picket duty at 5:00 a.m. on July 13. They were handed a new offer from the airport authority. Within an hour it was ratified unanimously by the workers. It included a market adjustment that increased all rates of pay, a significant signing bonus, and economic increases above the current inflation rate for four years.
Both airports in Saskatchewan could be facing strike action in the very near future if the respective Airport Authorities don't start taking negotiations seriously.
PSAC/UCTE members working at the Regina Airport Authority have voted 96 percent in favour of strike action, if necessary, to achieve their first collective agreement under the Airport authority. The workers are currently in a legal strike position.
"The vote was an unambiguous rejection of the Authority's final offer and gave us a clear mandate to achieve a fair and reasonable contact with our employer," said Keven Joa, president of Local 40403 and a member of the negotiating team.
"The Airport Authority has been dragging its feet since the bargaining process began in Regina in November, 1999," adds Joa. "Agreement has only been reached on 12 issues. The bargaining team is very frustrated by the lack of progress and the take-it-or leave it attitude of the Airport Authority bargaining team."
The PSAC has filed an Unfair Labour Practice complaint against the Regina Airport Authority with the Canada Industrial Relations (CIRB) and is awaiting its intervention.
PSAC members at the Saskatoon Airport voted 100 percent in favour of strike action on June 12. Both parties met on June 12 and 13 with the assistance of a federal conciliation officer who has been unable to conclude a settlement.
Some of the major issues in dispute at the Saskatoon Airport are pension, vacation leave, severance and rates of pay. These workers could take legal strike action in early July.