THIS NEWSLETTER BARGAINING UPDATE WAS SENT TO ALL MEMBERS ON APRIL 28, 2023
We are writing to you from our new bargaining headquarters in downtown Port Elgin. It's not far from the McDonald's restaurant right across the street, so if you see the banners, take a look, and soon we'll be having some more activities within this building.
Your Bargaining Team has been working tirelessly to negotiate a fair contract on your behalf. While extensive discussions have taken place, there are several core issues that remain unresolved. As a result, we’ve decided to file for conciliation with the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry will then assign a Conciliator who will work with the Society and Bruce Power to attempt to resolve the outstanding issues in bargaining.
Filing for conciliation does not mean we’re going on strike. In the last round of bargaining, we had a 97% strike vote mandate and that was the turning point to achieving our negotiated settlement. Securing a strong strike vote will increase our bargaining power and demonstrate to our employer how invested we all are in improving our working conditions. Below is an overview of the major issues:
- Unlimited contracting out of Society represented work
- Inadequate COLA provisions
- Forced shift work (including V and AR shift)
- The lack of modern remote working provisions
- Attack on our ability to effectively represent members in the workplace
#1 - Unlimited Contracting Out
First, thank you to all the members who took the time to complete the recent survey on the contracting out Society work. From all parts of the organization, more than half of you responded in a short time frame and your voices were heard loud and clear. Contracting out Society jurisdictional work at Bruce Power is out of control and poses a threat to the viability of Bruce Power as a whole and to each of us individually. Highlights from the survey include:
- Over 80% think current workplace policies are not applied equally to full-time employees vs contractors
- 48% have had to train contractors on how to do our work
- Over 50% are uncomfortable transferring knowledge & experience to contractors, knowing that they are not here for the long-term (only 17% are comfortable)
- 57% feel that contracting out is limiting our opportunities for learning new skills and getting involved in unique projects
- 60% feel that contracting out is a threat to our job security
- 88% agree that excessive use of contractors will negatively impact our membership
- 85% believe it is important to improve Society’s oversight of contracting out work.
There is significant pressure from Bruce Power to arbitrarily use contractors. Currently, the Society has an agreement (LOU 26) which limits the use of contractors to perform Society work up to a maximum of $200M in exchange for guarantees to maintain the current Society represented headcount. These provisions have been exceeded by the company and the Society has been blocked from accessing information to understand the full extent of contracting out work within Society represented jurisdiction.
Since we first agreed to suspend the PSA process (article 67), we have seen work contracted out without any consideration being given to having it done in-house. Accountability in the process needs to be restored. We won a grievance on this matter penalizing the company with a significant amount.
Many job opportunities and much high end MP5, MP6 and Wage Schedule 14 work is being contracted out and that limits opportunities for members. Work groups are losing vital roles by attrition and are dismayed at the shifting of regular Society positions to Contractors.
Members have raised serious concerns over the impact of contracting out. This is a vital bargaining issue, and we are not willing to compromise our workplace and future by allowing the employer to have unlimited contracting out of our work.
#2 – COLA
Bruce Power intentionally withheld your COLA retroactive lumpsum payments in 2019, 2021, and 2022. The company withheld the COLA payments by reinterpreting the COLA language in our collective agreement that has existed since 2005. The Society is seeking enhancements to the COLA provisions in our collective agreement to reduce the ability of Bruce Power to do this again.
#3 - Forced Shift Work
Bruce Power has demanded provisions that would give them the power to arbitrarily assign non-shift workers to shift. The employer is seeking to remove restrictions on which shifts Society represented employees can be assigned (including V and AR-shift). They want the ability to create new shift schedules without regard to the work/life balance of the membership and without Society involvement. Bruce Power wants the ability to put you on shift for as long as they like, for whatever reasons they like, without limit, even when there is no unit outage. The Society is standing firm against this.
#4 – Remote Work
During COVID, Society members proved for the better part of two years that they are responsible, productive employees regardless of their work location. The use of sick time decreased, and productivity increased while we worked from home to keep the business running smoothly in a difficult time.
Your Bargaining Team is trying negotiate alternate work arrangement language. Unfortunately, Bruce Power refuses to acknowledge the value and productivity enhancements that modern remote work arrangements have been proven to provide. Bruce Power directs us to work from home if the roads are closed in the winter, but they now refuse to allow our membership to work from home even for medical reasons or occasional family care responsibilities. The Society knows that not everyone can work from home all the time. However, flexibility can be a win-win situation as demonstrated at comparable workplaces.
#5 Attack on Society Representation of Members
Bruce Power is directly attacking our union and our ability to represent your interests. The company wants to dictate the structure of Society representation. They are proposing to limit the number of Unit Directors. They also want to limit what the Delegates are allowed to do (including carrying grievances).
The employer has no business deciding on the Society’s representational structure. It is the membership within our organization that makes those decisions. The broader leadership of our 9,000-member strong union will not entertain having any employer have a say in the operation of our union.
In summary, each of these issues on their own are significant items. Taken as a whole, we see that Bruce Power’s Bargaining Team has not listened to our concerns and places little value on our contributions to the success of Bruce Power. Furthermore, negotiations are
being conducted in the absence of Bruce Power decision makers. As a result, we will soon enter the conciliation process as a decisive attempt to achieve a fair contract. It is important to show Bruce Power that we are united in our conviction to be treated fairly. Please continue to show your support by wearing your Society shirts, using the virtual backgrounds, and displaying the desk tents.
Dave Ceksters, LVP and your Society Bargaining Team