When bargaining becomes an issue

October 15, 2010

CAPE is the bargaining agent for two Treasury Board groups, the EC and TR groups, and one group at the Library of Parliament, and the three collective agreements for these will be up for renewal in 2011. As usual, CAPE has made a call for volunteers to form bargaining committees to negotiate those three contracts when they expire next year.
However, even before these committees could meet in order to begin the long process of preparing for the bargaining table, we saw in the media that the Treasury Board Secretariat was inviting the Public Service Alliance of Canada to what was called "expedited" bargaining. The Alliance was the only union involved in this at the time. Those bargaining agents who were either already at the table in the regular cycle, including the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada for some of its Treasury Board groups, or bargaining agents that had sent their notice of intention to bargain, were side-tracked by Treasury Board to allow this.
When news of the expedited bargaining offer became public, the Institute was extended the same invitation by Treasury Board. Later, word spread that any union who would show an interest could receive the same invitation.
Last week, the news came out that TBS and PSAC had reached, after two weeks of negotiation, tentative agreements at three of its five bargaining tables. The tentative agreements involved wage increases of 1.75%, 1.5% and 2%, other adjustments addressing issues specific to sub-groups, as well as, after preliminary review, what CAPE would consider a major concession. The concession was an end to the accumulation of severance pay for situations where an employee retires or resigns from the public service.
CAPE is currently analyzing the terms of the tentative agreements and keeping track of feedback from CAPE members on the agreements, which could eventually be brought to CAPE bargaining tables by Treasury Board. CAPE has also agreed to meet Treasury Board at the bargaining table in order to get more information and ascertain whether the employer is prepared to agree to table proposals for the EC and TR groups that would convince the Association to come to an agreement before the normal bargaining schedule comes into effect.

Treasury Board and CAPE have agreed to meet some time in January, giving the Association time to reconvene the bargaining committees that were at the table in the previous round and prepare proposals.
This is the second time since 2008 that bargaining is done outside of the existing rules. In 2008, the employer came up with a final offer whereas, at least at CAPE, negotiations were getting close to a positive outcome.

We will keep you informed of developments in this matter as they occur