Unions and Collective Bargaining
Unionization, what is it all about?
Unions are legal entities whose role and responsibility is to negotiate collective agreements on behalf of their membership and represent their members when the collective agreement is breached.
PSAC/USJE provides support to its members not only through grievance representation, but also through labour-management consultations locally, regionally and nationally. These are where non-collective agreement issues can be addressed and resolved.
Unions, including PSAC/USJE, are democratically run organizations where dues-paying members elect their representatives locally, regionally and nationally. PSAC and USJE hold triennial conventions where the direction for the union is set through debate of resolutions put forward by the membership and elections are held for senior leadership positions.
PSAC/USJE locals attend to the daily needs of members involving workplace issues. Local leadership is elected according to terms set out in local bylaws.
What are excluded positions?
A unionized group of workers is part of a bargaining unit which is defined based on community of interest and nature of work. For the federal public service, bargaining units are determined by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.
There may be Civilian Members who are pay-matched to higher classification levels that fall outside of the established bargaining unit into which others will be deemed; these members are excluded because of the nature of the work (managerial functions, access to sensitive information, and the like). These positions are excluded from collective bargaining.
The non-pay-matched CMs (LES-IM, LES-TO/PO-IMA, PO-TCO) are not excluded positions per se, but until certified by a bargaining agent, will have the terms and conditions of the TC collective agreement applied to them.
For greater clarity, positions are only excluded when they fall outside of the definition of employee that is set out in the Federal Public Service Labour Relations Act.
- How are dues calculated and what is the dues rate?
Dues are established at PSAC and USJE triennial conventions. Locals may set additional dues levies to address their daily work.
- How does collective bargaining work?
Most of the Civilian Members will be deemed into public service positions that are pay-matched to existing bargaining units – with the exception of the LES-IM/PO-IMA and LES-TO/PO-TCO groups. The collective agreements of those units expire in June of 2018.
PSAC will seek bargaining input from the membership, elect bargaining teams and convene bargaining conferences leading up to the expiry of the collective agreements in June of 2018. PSAC will determine a means of integrating CM representatives into the PA and TC bargaining conferences.
- How will CMs be involved in bargaining?
PSAC will set up an RCMP Civilian Members sub-committee that will be part of the bargaining process – thus ensuring that issues unique to CMs are addressed. The process for establishing this sub-committee will be communicated in the future.
- Will CMs be protected between now and the time that we are deemed into the public service with respect to our terms and conditions of work?
Yes. PSAC/USJE is attempting to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding, whereby Treasury Board agrees to protect your current terms and conditions of work between now and when you enter into collective bargaining at which time a legislative collective bargaining freeze of your terms and conditions of work kicks in.
- There are a number of terms and conditions of work that we CMs currently enjoy that are superior to those in our pay-matched public service positions. How will PSAC/USJE address this?
PSAC/USJE recognize that CMs have some different terms and conditions of work. Our most reasonable goal is to expand these superior provisions to all of our members. If we are not successful at that, we intend to protect these superior terms and conditions of work by grandparenting (protecting) them for you.
We have experience with this type of process. For example, during the last round of bargaining, a number of employees were transferred into the Department of Heritage from Canada Revenue Agency. They came in with some superior terms and conditions and these were grandparented.
- I’m concerned that becoming a union member will mean that I will be forced to go on strike. Is this the case?
Many rounds of collective bargaining are resolved without workers electing to withdraw their labour from the workplace. It is the workers themselves who vote to strike. During the collective bargaining process when/if negotiations stall, the union will conduct a strike vote. One of the main purposes of doing so is to demonstrate to the employer the will of its employees to withdraw their labour to achieve the improvement in the collective agreement that are being negotiated.
A strike vote does not necessarily mean a strike will occur. If a strike does occur, the union will determine the most appropriate means of striking – a general strike where all employees are out or a revolving strike where certain work locations are targeted for a specific period.
- What about essential service positions?
The Treasury Board, as the employer, has the right to designate certain positions as essential to maintaining government services for the safety or security of the public, meaning that those designated essential would continue to report to work during a strike. The RCMP and the Union would discuss which services and which positions are believed to be essential well prior to any potential strike, and reach an essential services agreement. Individuals in positions that were designated essential would be notified in writing by the employer. This process occurs with every round of collective bargaining.
Civilian Members are expressing a degree of frustration around the lack of transparency in the deeming process. Many questions remain unanswered, leaving CMs feeling as though they are being kept in the dark.
PSAC/USJE are committed to do our best to get answers for you. It is important to remember that this process is employer-driven and unions don’t necessarily have any more information than you, the affected employees.
- What are the steps in the deeming process?
The government has announced that Royal Canadian Mounted Police Civilian Members will join the federal public service on May 21, 2020.
The ‘deeming’ of RCMP CMs was initially scheduled for April, 2018 but was delayed because of ongoing problems with the Phoenix pay system.
In December, 2017, the Public Service Alliance of Canada filed applications pursuant to Section 58 of the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act to place RCMP CMs into PSAC bargaining units and offer them all the protections of their respective collective agreements.
The Treasury Board agreed to the application in principle on January 15, moving RCMP CMs one step closer to being placed into PSAC bargaining units and receiving the benefits of union representation.
When deeming occurs, CMs will become public service employees. The majority will be included in existing Treasury Board bargaining units with the exception of the PO-IMA and PO-TCOs who were not pay-matched.
Approximately 500 CM will go into each of the Program and Administrative Services (PA) and Technical Services (TC) bargaining units at Treasury Board. A small number will go into the Education and Library Sciences (EB) group. And an even smaller number into the Operational Services (SV) group.
At that time, you will be fully represented by PSAC/USJE as card-carrying, dues-paying members.
PSAC/USJE and Treasury Board are in the process of negotiating the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding that will clarify the role that PSAC/USGE will play in the deeming process. Our goal is to protect your interests before deeming and during this period of transition.
- Why are we not signing PSAC/USJE union cards now and becoming public service employees before deeming?
It is PSAC’s position that signing union cards now is not necessary. PSAC/USJE is not blocked from protecting your interests prior to you becoming members when deeming occurs.
With the exceptions of PO-IMA and PO-TCOs, CMs are assigned to specific bargaining units and their union; there is not a choice of bargaining agent to be made.
By signing a union card before deeming, you do not become a public service employee, that will only occur upon the deeming process.
- Many of us are fearful about the impact of deeming and its impact on our terms and conditions of work. How can PSAC/USJE protect us?
PSAC/USJE knows that you don’t want to see an erosion in any of your terms and conditions of work. The union will work on your behalf to protect any superior terms and conditions of work you currently have. The union’s commitment is to be there for you through this process, to answer your questions to the best of our abilities, and to defend your interests.
- There is a lack of specific details on many issues including pension, sick leave, vacation and other provisions. What can we expect from PSAC/USJE in this regard?
PSAC/USJE appreciates that not all of your questions are being answered. Some of you are in unique situations that require a response from your employer. The union has limited information on many of the topics where you have concerns. We will work to get information from Treasury Board on topics like pay scales, pension conversions, etc.
PSAC/USJE also commits to bringing forward to the bargaining table issues that are specific to you. That is why we will set up the RCMP Civilian Member sub-committee of the bargaining team.
- How do we know that when our pay is transferred into the Phoenix system that we won’t experience delays?
PSAC has been at the forefront of forcing Treasury Board to make this right. It was PSAC who initially called for a delay in the rollout of Phoenix and the union continues to meet with high-level government representatives as well as our members who are experiencing very real financial pain.
There is no guarantee that pay issues won’t occur. In any transition of this magnitude pay issues may arise.
PSAC also continues to advocate for CMs to be excluded from the Phoenix pay system altogether. Ensuring RCMP CMs remain paid accurately and on time is our greatest priority.