To: TEAM-IFPTE Local 161 Members
From: TEAM Office
Date: February 26, 2019
Re: Negotiations Update
Although our negotiating committee exchanged high-level proposals with the Company’s committee on November 16th, the committees have only met on five occasions since. Most of the delay has been for reasons beyond either parties’ control, however, progress at the sessions has been immensely slow, if indeed it could be said that any meaningful progress has been achieved at all. Most of our proposals have repeatedly been summarily rejected.
TEAM went to the negotiating table anticipating that the Company would be seeking significant changes to adapt our current Collective Agreement to the Bell way of doing things. We went with open minds, prepared to listen, even sent our legal counsel to the table to expedite the process. Unfortunately, there is no one from Bell Canada at the table to hear our members’ genuine concerns and issues, or to answer fully the questions our committee is asking about certain Bell processes that will impact our members. A number of the Company’s proposals are significant, including changes to our vacation year, the sick leave process, and future job opportunities. Our lead negotiator requested that a Bell Canada subject matter expert be made available, only to be told it is just not going to happen. We are at a loss to understand why there is such resistance to the idea.
A major goal for TEAM in these negotiations is to improve job security and open up new job opportunities for our members. However, it has become very apparent through these negotiations, that Bell Canada has concerns about other groups within their organization joining TEAM. From an employee’s perspective that may well be desirous, for example, employees in non-unionized jobs can be terminated at any time, for any reason, without notice, and without recourse (unless they want to hire their own lawyer at considerable personal expense). TEAM is fighting to bring more work into the province and it to be in the TEAM bargaining unit to ensure all your rights and benefits remain protected. Our committee has put forward a proposal that should, if Bell would come and talk to us, allay their concerns about bringing work into Manitoba.
Also on the protection of TEAM jobs, the ongoing downsizing has caused workloads to increase to unhealthy levels for a notable number of members. Some have requested that more people be hired, only to be told that there is a hiring freeze, but apparently this does not apply to contractors! The company’s newly demonstrated preference for contractors over employees is a matter our negotiating committee is attempting to address at the negotiating table. TEAM also has an outstanding grievance relating to the Company’s misreporting of contractors.
The term of our Collective Agreement ended on February 19, 2019, however, it remains in full force and effect during the negotiations. It can be terminated, but only after a number of criteria have been met, including the parties made a reasonable effort to negotiate, the Minister of Labour appointed a Conciliation Officer to facilitate the negotiations, and a Mediator further assisted the parties in resolving their differences during a “21 day cooling off period”.
There are currently no dates set for the committees to meet, this is largely due to scheduling conflicts throughout March. Our negotiating committee, TEAM staff, and legal counsel are using this time to prepare for the recommencement of negotiations.
Your continued support and patience is very much appreciated.