When thousands of PSAC members take to the streets as part of a rally against the Phoenix pay system or cuts to public services, people take notice. Having a mobilized and engaged membership is critical to getting the best possible deal at the bargaining table – for all our members. The biggest victories happen when members’ needs are reflected by their bargaining teams, and they in turn support their team and work together to mobilize.
We know from the experience of many members, including those involved in the Black and Indigenous class action lawsuits, that workers from equity groups consistently get left behind. Collective bargaining is one of our best tools to create fair work environments for all employees. That’s why we need to make sure our demands explicitly focus on equity, especially given the broader context of systemic discrimination based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation and other identities.
PSAC members who work for the federal government often ask us why it takes so long to negotiate each collective agreement. In other jurisdictions, it takes months, not years, to reach a deal. They ask why they can’t strike when bargaining breaks down but must wait months to apply that pressure. When grievances go to adjudication, why does it take so long to be heard and to get decisions?
We hold bargaining surveys to ask members how we can improve their work life, from work-life balance to decent wages and protections against harassment and discrimination.
Today, our strength comes from not only those same federal public service workers, but tens of thousands of members from different sectors and workplaces across Canada.
Much has been gained for workers in the last few years. With most of our members currently bargaining for better working conditions and pay, we want to highlight the power of mobilization and political action in securing major wins for PSAC’s membership.
Workers in Canada haven't had it easy over the past few years. First, the pandemic upended our working lives and pushed many people to the breaking point. Now,it is fuelling alarmingly high grocery bills and rising prices at the gas pumps which has families wondering how they'll make ends meet.
As bargaining heats up this winter for 120,000 federal public service workers, it can be easy to forget why we should pay attention to this round of negotiations.
In the summer of 1984, four PSAC members fought for the right to be politically active as federal public service workers, paving the way for the stronger, more engaged unions we have today.
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