Tuesday, October 9, 2007

CUPE 15 Ratification Meeting

The CUPE 15 bargaining committee provided significant background on the 13 months of strained bargaining with the City of Vancouver.

First, the document titled "Items Previously Agreed" all 8 pages of it, is all that the City and CUPE could achieve together pre-Brian Foley.

During a previous blog I took Mr. Dubrovolny at his word regarding calling for Special mediator under section 76 of the BC Labour Relations Code.

I was wrong to do so.

According to Keith Graham, lead negotiator for CUPE 15, this section is used primarily to force Ferry Workers back to work and operates solely at the BC Labour Minister's discretion. They decide terms, references, process and mediator.

When Mr. Graham met with Mike Zora, General Manager - Human Resource Services Mr. Graham had learned that not only had Mr. Zora requested a Special Mediator, but also set out the terms and conditions of what he would discuss and what mediators were acceptable.

It was during this discussion that Mr. Dubrovolny was meeting with the media stating that if the unions truly wished to mediate they could have done the same.

Mr. Dubrovolny was wrong.

According to Mr. Graham the City was in a bind, when the Province rejected the City's request for a Special Mediator. The recently completed "enhanced mediation process" was just as much a face saving measure for City managers as it was a resolution to the civic labour dispute.

Mr. Foley's developed a dispute resolution systems that prevents the City allowing disputes to remain unresolved for years. The Reclassification / Classification system replaces an agreement called the "The Referee's Document," which Keith Graham, Lead CUPE 15 Negotiator claimed was ripped apart by Mike Zora, General Manager, Human Resource Services, 8 years ago.

Mr. Zora's actions, it is claimed, has allowed disputes to fester and contribute to the poisonous work atmosphere at City Hall.

The new settlement would resolve classification issues in 7 months instead of no set deadline.

Staff teams from City Hall, Park Board, Ray-Cam and Britannia now can compare their work to each other. Each work unit, prior to this current settlement offer, was treated as a separate employer silo. Job comparisons and pay scales could only be made within each silo.

Not included in the collective agreement the settlement does provide certain caveats. Prior to Foley settlement if an employee made a whistle blowing claim and the city found it to be erroneous the city could discipline the employee. The previous framework had a chilling effect on whistle blower claims.

An employee can now share a suspicion without fear of retribution.

CUPE 15 had this issue on the back burner until Mr. Foley said he would deal with it. It is the dispute resolution process that Mr. Foley improved upon. The City had developed a process which would require 6 months, or the length of VANOC's exclusive use period, to resolved disputes which occurred at "Designated Facilities and Sites."

CUPE requested that City "Exempt Staff" serve as managers at Olympic Sites and Facilities as they did not believe it appropriate that City Staff be supervised by volunteers or VANOC employees.

CUPE 15 does not like these outcomes (6 month notice of layoffs instead of no layoffs) but is satisfied again with the dispute resolution mechanisms. They are stronger than anything that has been in a Vancouver Collective agreement for years.

If CUPE 15 members were to reject the agreement there is no guarantee that a new mediator would be called as it requires both parties to agree on that process. It would be similar to pressing reset on a counter. Everything except the "Items Previously Agreed" would be off the table and there would be no guarantee that it would return.

The CUPE 15 bargaining committee stated it could not in good conscience tell it's members that there would be a better deal if they held out for 4, 8 or 12 more weeks.

The results of today's CUPE 15, 391 & 1004 votes should be announced between 7:oopm and 8:30pm tonight.

City Council votes tomorrow In Camera.

Metro Vancouver Labour Relations Board ratified the agreement this afternoon.


Anonymous said...

An employee can now share a suspicion without fear of retribution.

Considering the future atmospherics between managers and staff post-strike, isn't there the possibility of whistle blower claims being misused?

Picket Boy said...

The potential for abuse is always present regardless of process.

jonuck said...

strained bargaining

you always choose a suitable adjective