TEAM Members Asked to do IBEW and CEP Work September 22nd 2011

To:            All TEAM Members
From:        TEAM Office
Date:         September 22, 2011
Re:            TEAM Members Asked to do IBEW and CEP Work

TEAM wishes to respond to the numerous members who have complained about the Company asking them to make an immediate and uninformed decision as to whether they would do other bargaining unit work in the event of a strike or lockout.

Under Labour Law an employer is not permitted to take any disciplinary action against you if you refuse to do some or all of the work of a striking or locked-out employee from another union.

If you have promised MTS that you would do such work you are well within your rights to change your mind if you feel uncomfortable about that decision.

As in all matters, TEAM recommends you exercise your right with confidence.

We would like to address the most prevalent concerns expressed in communications with the office.

“Refusing to do IBEW or CEP work is a career limiting move!”

Locked out employees active on picket lines in 1999, and TEAM members who supported them by refusing to do other bargaining unit work, have advanced in their careers, some up to the level of Director.

We have seen no evidence and received no claims that would indicate that MTS has discriminated against our members based on their willingness or refusal to do IBEW or CEP work.

In fact, it would be an unfair labour practice for MTS to reward any TEAM member for doing IBEW or CEP work.  It is also an unfair labour practice to punish any TEAM member for refusing to do IBEW or CEP work.

“If I don’t do IBEW/CEP work could I be laid off?”

The layoff process in TEAM is not a simple matter, cannot be done quickly, and gives those wanting to leave the opportunity to volunteer.  Layoff provisions are clearly outlined in Article 27 of the TEAM Collective Agreement, and could only occur if:

  1. The company offers a Voluntary Retirement/Termination Incentive Program (VRTIP) by VP group.
  2. Employees in the affected groups are provided with a 30 calendar day window to apply for a VRTIP.
  3. The company must then give TEAM 14 calendar days advance notice of layoff and follow the procedure laid out in Article 27.04.

“What should I consider when making a decision?”

IBEW and CEP members are part of our community both inside and outside the workplace.  They are our friends, neighbours, partners and children who, in IBEW’s case, have asked that we not do IBEW work during a strike or lockout, and who assure TEAM members, that in a similar situation, we could count on them not to do our work.

Experience has shown us that the consequences of doing the work of our struck or locked out colleagues is long-term and disruptive, severing friendships and dividing families.  Since 1999, relations with CEP have been tainted by the lockout.

TEAM members need IBEW’s ongoing moral and financial support in the Pension Lawsuit.  IBEW pays 50% of the cost of the lawsuit, TEAM the other 50%.

You may also want to consider the following:

“If I don’t do IBEW/CEP work it will affect the customer”

There are over 700 employees in IBEW Local 435 and approximately 1,250 in CEP Local 7.  It is unrealistic to believe that a labour disruption involving this many employees will not impact the customer, or that MTS can provide the same level of service while they are off the job.  It is in everyone’s interest to resolve the outstanding issues quickly without prolonging the disruption to customers.  The dispute is between IBEW and MTS, and CEP and MTS.

“I said I would do IBEW/CEP work, can I change my mind?”

Yes.  Under Labour Law, MTS cannot force you to do IBEW/CEP work even though you may have expressed a willingness to perform that work should the need arise.

TEAM believes that MTS’ request for your written willingness to do such work is inappropriate, intimidating and may well be an unfair labour practice.  Further, and as with any electronic data, we cannot guarantee that your email will remain confidential.  Therefore if you are retracting your willingness to do IBEW work, or simply want your intention, whatever that was, to remain confidential, we suggest that you ask that the email be deleted and any paper copies destroyed.

Should you have any concerns, please contact TEAM at

TEAM-IFPTE Local 161
Tel (204) 984-9470 or 1-877-984-9470
Fax: (204) 231-2809