TR Bargaining UpdateApril 29, 2016
Positive tone at the table, but money matters not yet addressed
Bargaining resumed at the TR table on April 26 and 27. The tone was positive, and the general sense was that the bargaining teams were accomplishing meaningful work.
While some points were resolved and clauses were ratified, the CAPE team’s priorities were not yet fully addressed. The Employer was reluctant to discuss monetary issues, leading us to believe that Treasury Board’s bargaining team did not yet have all of the parameters of its new mandate in place. So long as these difficult issues remain unexplored, a great deal of work lies ahead of us.
The Employer agreed to part of our proposals on leave for family-related responsibilities and bereavement leave, but some elements remain to be resolved. Concerning the issue of parliamentary leave and interpretation leave, the Employer presented its first written documents. In addition, Treasury Board’s representatives tabled a new version of its short-term disability proposal.
At this point, it is impossible for CAPE’s bargaining team to disclose further details regarding these proposals or to qualify them. The bargaining process must follow its course. The details will be made available to the members once the parties are close enough to settlement.
The parties will return to the table on May 31 and June 1 and 2.
The employer supplied some figures on sick leave but derailed bargaining on parliamentary leave
CAPE’s TR Bargaining Team and the Employer’s Team met at the bargaining table on February 3, 4 and 5. At the start of the session, the employer presented some of the statistical information on sick leave requested by CAPE back in October. CAPE is still awaiting more documents and information, including the studies upon which the employer’s proposed model and its cost and savings estimates are based.
In order to give the employer an opportunity to make counterproposals, CAPE then identified some of its priority proposals. Among the priority issues identified were: use of freelances; rest periods; performance management; and annual leave. The employer examined the proposals for two days and did not go beyond expressing openness to possible changes to the article on performance assessment. As to the other proposals, the employer responded tersely that it “had concerns, had little appetite for, did not see any problem, and did not wish to set any precedents.”
During the third day of bargaining, both parties continued to discuss Article 19 – Parliamentary Leave and Interpretation Leave. Both parties had agreed to use interest-based bargaining for this issue, and this approach was followed when discussions were initiated in December. Things started off well when the parties defined their respective interests; however, negotiations broke down when the time came to set out solution options. Before the process of identifying options could even begin, the employer violated the rules of interest-based bargaining by demanding that CAPE discard the status quo as an option from the outset. Consequently, CAPE had no choice but to withdraw from the interest-based bargaining process; thus, the employer will now have to table a proposal on parliamentary leave and interpretation leave.
December 4, 2014
CAPE’s TR Bargaining Team and the employer’s team met at the bargaining table on December 3 and 4, 2014. One major item was discussed over those two days: Article 19 – Parliamentary Leave and Interpretation Leave. Given the complexity of the issues tied to this article of the Collective Agreement, the two parties decided to use interest-based bargaining to negotiate on this proposal by the employer. Both parties thus deepened their understanding of the implications of such leave. The TR Team explained the role of translators, terminologists and interpreters on Parliament Hill. This gave the members of the employer’s team a better grasp of the essence of parliamentary leave and interpretation leave. Bargaining on this subject will continue at the next bargaining session, which is scheduled for February.
The employer continues to table changes to its proposals to eliminate banked sick leave and establish a system featuring an unpaid waiting period followed by disability insurance. It certainly appears that CAPE’s reaction to these proposals is being ignored and that the employer is not interested in engaging in any meaningful exchange or discussion on these proposals.
CAPE’s TR Bargaining Team met with the Employer’s Team at the bargaining table on October 21, 22 and 23. The union side presented its proposed amendments to Articles 23, 25 and 26. The first proposed amendment to Article 23 would add rigour and clarity to the performance assessment process by basing the process on principles recognized by the courts (Article 23:23.01-23.06); the second proposed amendment to Article 23 seeks to establish a consultation process and principles on the important subject of quantitative performance objectives (Article 23:23.xx). CAPE proposed an amendment to Article 25 that would protect interpreters when quality interpretation cannot be provided due to poor sound quality (Article 25). Lastly, CAPE proposed an amendment to Article 26 that would provide a framework for the consultation that should take place when the employer is considering a redesign of the workplace (Article 26).
The employer presented an amended version of its own proposed changes to the Article on sick leave. CAPE had expected the employer to present facts and figures supporting the merits of the proposal it had tabled in September; however, no such facts and figures were tabled. Indeed, it may be recalled that the employer’s original proposed changes, justifications and data on this subject were nonsensical. Rather than explain its proposal, however, the employer decided to put a slightly different offer on the table.
The employer now wants to reduce the 15 days of annual paid sick leave to which TRs are entitled to 6 days; under the employer’s new proposal, an employee who does not use all of those 6 days would be entitled to carry forward to the next year an entire day, raising to 7 his or her maximum number of days of paid sick leave for that year. At present, employees roll any unused portion of their annual sick leave allotment of 15 days over to the following year, and there is no maximum on the amount of such banked sick leave an employee can carry.
The employer is also proposing to amend the collective agreement to allow the use of other leave, annual leave or personal leave when an employee is sick during the waiting period. The employer is also proposing that all existing accumulated sick leave credits be converted into a wage top-up allowance (at a conversion rate of 7.5%) that could only be used during the year in which a short-term disability (STD) plan is implemented and only if an employee is sick for more than six consecutive days during that year and is entitled to 70% salary replacement. In all other cases, those sick leave credits will be lost forever.
The waiting period for the employer’s proposed STD plan remains unchanged: seven consecutive calendar days during which the employee may be without a salary. The employer’s proposal increases from four to five weeks the amount of time following this waiting period that employees would receive 100% of their pay. Starting with the sixth week of salary replacement, the rate of compensation would fall to 70%. Under the current sick leave system, employees are entitled to 100% salary replacement. The long-term disability benefits to which employees may be entitled provide 70% wage replacement benefits after a minimum of 13 weeks. Once again, the TR Bargaining Team made it clear that the parties cannot responsibly discuss the employer’s proposals until such time as the impact those proposals might have on our TR members can be measured.
The employer also presented its concerns about the Parliamentary leave system, as well as certain elements of the Samson report. Without prejudging the outcome, the parties agreed in good faith to use the interest-based bargaining approach in December to examine the situation.
CAPE’s TR team and the employer’s team met at the bargaining table on September 17 and 18. The union team filled in a few proposals that had been left blank in its submission last June and introduced documents in support of the proposals submitted at earlier meetings (Appendice XX, Article 26, Article 2). The TR team also presented its arguments for changing the wording of the definitions of family in the TR collective agreement, since it currently resembles wording deemed discriminatory by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (Hicks v. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada).
In keeping with its mandate, the employer’s team tabled its proposals respecting changes to sick leave benefits, as well as proposals respecting certain elements of a short-term disability plan (Employeur - Congé de maladie, Employeur - AICD ). Please note that these texts are only available in French. However, PSAC has received identical proposals at its tables and has published the English-language text received from the employer.
The TR team acknowledged that the current sick leave plan has its shortcomings. However, the links between the employer’s proposals and the statistics and justifications provided by the employer were not clear. The team emphasized that solving the problems raised by the employer does not require changing the TR collective agreement – it can be done by improving the current system. The employer also expressed its concerns concerning the relevance of the parliamentary leave system and certain elements of a report that examines the cost of that system. The employer also proposed, without presenting any language at the table, that the retroactivity of the first salary adjustment be limited to the twelve-month period preceding the signing of a new agreement.
In the end, it would appear that the parties were prepared to agree on a few other more minor proposals.
June 19, 2014
The parties met on June 17 and June 18. On the first day, CAPE’s team presented in detail the rationale for most proposals tabled by the Association on April 24. Proposals identified as proposals to be discussed at a subsequent meeting were not explained. The “to be discussed” proposals will be the object of a hybrid form of bargaining where CAPE will describe a problem for each issue it raises; the employer will respond with its observations; and later CAPE will table language that takes into consideration the problem and the employer’s observations. The employer presented the rationale for its proposals on June 18, with the exception of proposals to be discussed later. The two sides reviewed separately the other party’s rationale, and then came back to the table to ask for clarification of various issues. On June 19, in the morning the Treasury Board team responsible for elaborating the Short Term Disability (STD) plan provided CAPE’s bargaining team with a ninety-minute presentation of the general parameters of the current edition of the employer’s STD plan (CAPE summary). CAPE explained that it is willing to listen to the employer’s plans at the bargaining table and to its proposals when they are eventually tabled. It also explained that at this time the Association is not convinced that it is necessary to scrap the current system of sick leave to address the short list of problems identified as priorities by the joint technical committee that studied the matter of disability management a few years ago. In fact, at first glance, it appears to the Association that it may be costing taxpayers millions of dollars to set up a plan that is really not necessary. Furthermore, for the moment, it appears that the employer’s plan will be more costly for taxpayers, less efficient for managers and less effective for employees. CAPE raised several initial concerns at the table on June 24 and will provide more comments and questions over the next few weeks. These concerns include concern with the waiting period concept and the resulting unpaid periods of sick leave, the unconvincing use of industry numbers, the management of absences by a private sector service provider, the exclusion from the collective agreement of the appeal process for decisions regarding eligibility, authorization and related matters and the secondary role given to physicians in the decision process.
April 24, 2014
The parties exchanged proposals. The negotiators briefly reviewed the general purpose of the current round of bargaining from the perspective of their respective interests. The CAPE negotiator reminded the table that the employer did not agree to CAPE’s request for agreement to arbitration as the impasse resolution process for the TR table. It was also explained that conciliation/strike requires a continuous flow of information to members of the bargaining unit. As a result, CAPE’s negotiator reminded the employer’s negotiator and informed his team that the Association will be posting the proposal packages of both parties on its web site. Furthermore, any matters that are the object of agreement during bargaining will appear shortly thereafter on CAPE’s web site.
April 9, 2014 :
Treasury Board representatives and CAPE representatives met in order to discuss issues of logistics for the upcoming bargaining sessions, including a schedule of dates and when the parties could engage in the various steps of bargaining. The parties explored dates when they believed they could come to the table with their proposals. It was decided to exchange two weeks later.
Call for TR Volunteers: Collective Bargaining
March 4, 2013
CAPE is seeking your participation in the upcoming TR collective bargaining process. The TR Collective Agreement expires on April 18, 2014. The Association is seeking volunteers to serve on the TR collective bargaining committee.