Monday, September 3, 2007

Civic Bargaining Team Letter to CUPE - Aug 31

EXCERPTS: City Bargaining Team Response - Aug 31, 2007

"These offers were not put forward as "ultimatums" as suggested in your media conference and subsequent comments. There were simply time limited offers to try and break the log jam and get a settlement. This may not have been necessary had the Union not refused to provide a comprehensive response to the City's offer of August 6, 2007 - some three weeks earlier, Nevertheless, it did result in the Union finally responding in a comprehensive manner, and tht in itself is a positive development."

"Unfortunately, the response of CUPE Local 15 falls far short of providing a basis for settlement. While this letter is not intended to be a full response, we will try an outline some of the key difficulties. These include:
  • Job Security
    • The Union's continuing postion on "no layoffs" would require the City to maintain jobs and employment at the taxpayers expense regardless of wheter or not work is available. This is a guarantee that the City simply cannot make.
  • Olympic Letter
    • As a Venue City, Richmond has a single purpose built facility, that is not yet staffed by CUPE workers, or even confirmed as a future CUPE worksite. This is not comparable to the situation in Vancouver. Our Olympic letter needs to recognize these distinctions and address our issues as the Host City.
  • Auxiliary Scheduling by Seniority
    • The allocation of hours by seniority, as a matter of contract language, is not a direction the City or Park Board are prepared to go. The city believes that merit, not seniority, should be the primary reason why employees receive access to additional hours and / or promotions. . . The City and Park Board also believe that the customers who pay program fees are best served when work is assigned to the best qualified person.
  • Whistle Blower Policy
    • At City Council's direction , the City has already prepared a draft Whistle Blower policy and provided copies to our Unions and Staff Associations for comment. This policy, once approved, will apply to all City bargaining units and exempt staff, and is coming up for debate at City Council this Fall. CUPE Local 15, has already taken the opportunity to provide comments on the draft policy . . . The negotiating team is not prepared to pre-empt Council's discussion..,
  • Harassment
    • The City already has a harassment policy and an Equal Employment Opportunity division that investigates such issues. The program has existed for over 30 years in the City..,
  • Internal / External Hiring
    • The Union's response does not recognize the City's issue with respect to considering external candidates as part of the posting and selection process. . . current demographics . . .projected retirements of large numbers of our technical and professional staff . . .tight labour market. . .cumbersome hiring process . . . The City has confirmed that it will continue to give preference to internal candidates through use of seniority in close call competitions. The City's collective agreement is the only contract in the Region that has such restrictions and the City has offered to make significant improvements to rates of pay for the affected classifications in order to achieve relief on this issue. (Bold added by blogger.)
  • Access to "In Camera" Reports
    • A continuing issue has been Clause 11.7 of the collective agreement.
11.7 Changes Affecting the Agreement

The Employer agrees that any reports or recommendations made to the Employer dealing with matters covered by this Agreement, including recommendations for changes in method of operation that may affect wage rates, work loads or reduction of employment, will be communicated to the Union at such interval before they are dealt with by the Employer as to afford the Union reasonable opportunity to consider them and make representations to the Employer concerning them and, further, that if employees are deprived of employment by any implementation of such change they shall receive priority consideration for other employment with the Employer.

(January 1, 2003 - December 31, 2006 Collective Agreement between the City of Vancouver and CUPE Local 15. pg 41) (Clause inserted by blogger.)
    • This has been used recently by CUPE Local 15 to try and gain access to "In Camera" reports dealing with confidential material such as preliminary financial/budget information prior to Council's consideration. The Union's more recent interpretation would also provide the Union with access to confidential negotiation information such as wage and bargaining mandates. This is not an acceptable interpretation of the provision and is inconsistent with the past practice of the parties. An agreement on this is required. (Bold added by blogger.)

"As to where we go from here, that depends on how strongly the Union intends to push the types of issues outlined above....If the position that CUPE Local 15 has presented in the August 27th proposal truly represents your current expectations of a settlement, we are not convinced that negotiations, or mediation at this time will be be successful. It does not appear that CUPE Local 15 is prepared to focus on reducing the key issues between us ans is still some distance off."(Bold added by blogger.)

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