Union Committee Recommends
Acceptance of Memorandum
By now all members will have had an opportunity to review the Memorandum of Agreement that was reached in our negotiations today with the Company. The Memorandum was posted on the website immediately following signing of the documents, and it is recommended by the Union. We have also posted a revised Return to Work agreement and a voting schedule for next week.
Today, Al Cyr and Stan Pickthall met with Randy Jahrig, Vice-President of Human Resources, and Kelly-Ann Drabiuk, Director of Human Relations. We had asked to meet with a member of Finning Executive, and Randy is the Human Resources representative with the greatest authority at Finning.
There were a small handful of issues remaining for us to resolve – key among these was the issue of Statutory Holidays in the Sparwood LOU, which was the main Strike Issue for our members after the last offer. At the end of the day, this was the only area in which we could achieve any movement from the Company, and we made several changes:
- LOU #12 – removes the language respecting work on Statutory Holidays: “Unless otherwise agreed to by management, when a Statutory Holiday falls on a regular workday the employee is expected to work.”
- Sparwood LOU – removes the language mandating work on Statutory Holidays. In its place is a process for getting volunteers to work the stats; if there are insufficient volunteers then the parties will meet to “discuss the requirement for the Statutory Holiday, and work toward satisfying the customer’s expectations.” Failing to resolve the problem on two separate occasions, “either party may refer the matter to an interest arbitration for a third-party adjudication of the issue.”
- Article 15.01 – we have also agreed to language added here in the main body of the Contract: “It is understood that employees will not be required to work statutory holidays, except as otherwise agreed under specific modified shift arrangements.”
In all of our discussions at the table, it was noted that the employees in Sparwood assigned to the mines typically have volunteered for the Stat Holidays, and there have not been issues related to this. This agreement deletes the reference to mandatory stats for junior employees. It says that if we continue to have volunteers, there will be no referral to a third party. Also, the three stats over Christmas continue to be excluded from this process, and will be staffed “strictly by volunteers.”
With respect to working stats, we also received a great deal of feedback through the blog and through our meetings. This was clearly stated to be a strike issue for our members across the Province. There was a significant concern that the Company position on Stat Holidays would be implemented in other branches, and on regular shifts. The new language added to Article 15.01 of the Collective Agreement clarifies that this will not occur.
On the other issues, we were not able to make any further progress. Those issues are summarized below:
Subcontracting: On this issue, the Company had met us halfway in the mediation. Our concerns with subcontracting were related to three branches where this had been an ongoing problem. If any branch in future subcontracts work without advising us beforehand, then they will be required to provide 15 days notice. This puts them on notice to comply with the Contract. It is language that gives the Union something we can work with, and puts the onus on each Branch manager to be in compliance.
Duration: The Union asked for a three year deal, but the Company is firm on four years. The Company is looking for stability over a longer term.
Wages: The Company will not put any more money on the table. They have stated that the proposal before the employees is a total of 22.5% in cost increases over the four years. This was outlined in a document we received from one of our stewards; it was circulated to our picketers by management at one of the larger Finning
Branches: We have pushed hard on the issue of wages all day long, without success. We also pushed for more money at Mediation, and there was no movement there either. Our sister Union in Alberta likewise did not achieve monetary gains during their Strikes against Finning. It is our view that we will not achieve any further monetary increases at this bargaining table with Finning.
Is this a fair monetary offer? In our view, this offer exceeds what this or any Union has achieved in wage increases in recent history. As I have said in many of my meetings, any place but Finning I would have run to the bank with it and cashed it in before the employer changed their mind. We all know that Finning members took two years of 0%, this offer does not pay that all back, but at 4% in the first year, it does make a significant improvement over the 2.75% they started at.
Why are we recommending this? After we went on Strike, we had subcontracting as our major strike issue. A good Union Principle to stand upon, and to fight over. We mostly resolved that one in mediation – not entirely to our satisfaction, but enough to go back out. The ratification was turned down – not over subcontracting, but over the Stat Holiday issue. This was now our new Strike issue.
The Stat Holiday issue directly impacts a group of about 40, but raised the concerns of a significant number of our members. We have now removed the offending language, and resolved the concern about bringing mandatory stats to a Branch near you. Does it give us all we wanted? Nope. But we cannot in good conscience maintain 700 members on picket lines over those outstanding issues. We feel we have wrung these matters dry.
Many of our members have expressed the desire to find a speedy resolve to this Strike, and concerns over how far we would take this. As I write this, members have left, and customers have left. It is our view there is nothing more that we can achieve in this round of negotiations. Accordingly, on behalf of our committee, we are recommending acceptance. This is a good agreement.
I urge each one of you to review the entire proposal before you decide on casting your ballot. For all the good things you see in the proposed agreement, we your elected Bargaining Committee for fighting hard to achieve those gains. Finning is a tough employer, and your committee stood up to them admirably.
Likewise, the IAM membership is a tough membership, and our committee has stood up to the challenges of representing you in Rock Solid fashion. Commend them – this has not been an easy ride.
We will be voting this offer over the next week, and both Al and Stan will attend as many of the meetings as possible.
Stay Rock Solid!