TEAM Bargaining Communiqué – July 30, 2007
Your Negotiation Committee Continues to Work hard to achieve an Agreement
Your TEAM Bargaining Committee met with the Company bargaining committee over the course of five days last week, from July 23 to the 27th. With the aid of the senior federal conciliator, we were initially able to deal with some minor matters and get these signed off. We were then asked as part of the process to focus our proposals. The metaphor that was used was one of a four-lane highway that needed to be narrowed to a two-lane highway, if the Company was going to be able to respond in a meaningful fashion. We expressed the concern that once we went down this road there might be no meaningful response to our key issues, and our other proposals that had not been identified as being key, would then be relegated to "unimportant" status. Nonetheless, in order to try to get bargaining moving in a productive direction we tabled our three key proposals under our Job Security/Protection. These included:
- Stronger layoff procedure to protect our membership that takes into greater consideration service, but also gives laid off members access to term, acting, temporary and contractor positions, and eliminates contractors in the VP group in the event someone actually goes out the door.
- Language that would limit the number of contractors at any given time to 5% of the bargaining unit, with additional limits on the use of contractors (i.e. not to fill a TEAM vacancy), and that members receive the necessary training so that contractors don’t always have specialized services and lose their monopoly over the work.
- An article in the collective agreement that would require the Company to discuss future contracting out and sell-offs in an effort to mitigate the impact and enabling members to access their rights under the Collective Agreement to protect their continued employment with MTS Allstream (i.e. laterals, etc.)
The Company bargaining team indicated they needed an entire day to respond to these focused proposals. When we reconvened on Thursday we were extremely disappointed with the response.
The Company was not prepared to do anything concerning contracting out or sell-offs. In regard to contractors, the Company refused all of our wording and suggestions, save and except they would reduce the number of contractors from 90 to 80 effective a year and a half from now, and from 80 to 70 in 3 and ½ years from now (year 2010). No counterproposals or suggestions of protection for TEAM members were offered. In regard to protection from layoffs the Company offered to group single incumbents targeted for layoff with a multi-incumbent group, at their sole discretion, and then if there were "no differences" between the single incumbent targeted for layoff and others in the multi-incumbent group, then service would come into play. There was no mention of the laid off member having access to term, acting, temporary or contractor positions, or contractors going out the door before a laid off member. And no training provided to take up the new position successfully. Moreover, a single incumbent being compared to a multi-incumbent group would always be "different", so service would never come into play. Even worse, the company was just "floating" the proposal and it was subject to agreement on all future issues, thereby trying to "link" our job security issues to the introduction of a discriminatory defined contribution pension plan when we get to monetary items.
Your bargaining committee was extremely disappointed in this response. We expected much more given the company spent an entire day working on it. The feeling of your team was that we had taken the good faith step of narrowing and focusing our "four lane highway" but the company had come back with a "dirt path" to nowhere.
We did not feel there was a sufficient basis to build on the company’s offer and counter propose. Instead, on Friday your bargaining team expressed its deep disappointment with what the company had offered. Each member of the committee had an opportunity to address the company. Comments included:
- Our disappointment and frustration with the company taking an entire day to come up with such a weak response. That TEAM members want these critical issues fixed and this does not do it;
- That the company bargaining committee of three only includes two managers who have only a small percentage of the TEAM membership working for them, whereas the MTS Allstream bargaining committee in recent CAW bargaining consisted of seven members and that this reflects the continued lack of respect shown to TEAM and the disconnect between our issues and what the company is doing at the table;
- That the company continues to show more loyalty to contractors than long service, hard working and dedicated TEAM members;
- That the company refuses to agree to do things differently in the future in spite of the MTS Media and SAP fiascos.
- We cannot "link" job security issues with monetary items such as a defined contribution pension plan. At the outset of bargaining the company agreed to deal with non-monetary first, before we get to monetary, yet now they wish to change the rules we agreed to.
- We have not been speaking with customers over the last number of weeks in the hope that the company would deal with your issues fairly and justly. This has not happened and the company’s stance at the bargaining table seems to be leaving us no choice but to return to our campaign.
After delivering our message, the Conciliator had the company bargaining team return to their suite. The conciliator indicated that he would be in contact with the parties later this week regarding additional dates in late August. We indicated we were prepared to continue to work hard at the bargaining table to achieve an agreement.
Your TEAM bargaining committee has stated repeatedly that we have absolutely no desire for TEAM to strike, as we feel that this would cause irreparable harm to MTS Allstream at a time when it can least afford it. We have also been working diligently to avoid a lockout by doing everything possible to achieve a fair and equitable collective agreement. A lockout would also have an adverse impact on MTS Allstream. However, the option as to whether to lock us out is squarely in the hands of the company.
Unfortunately, we feel we have no option but to return to our campaign strategy at this time. MTS Allstream customers deserve to know the status of bargaining and that we are making very little progress. We intend to schedule additional days with the conciliator when he contacts us later this week and we intend to continue to work hard to achieve a fair agreement, but the company needs to begin to address your concerns and issues in a meaningful and effective manner.
Although the company has not indicated any plans to lock TEAM members out, we would be remise if we did not continue our preparations for a worst case scenario. This could occur as soon as mid-September. Throughout August and the beginning of September TEAM will be commencing its lockout training and the setting up of the various lockout committees.
Finally, we have received many emails, voice mail messages and other communications supportive of our work and efforts. We thank you for this continued support.
Your TEAM Bargaining Committee