One year ago MTS Allstream announced it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its directories business to Yellow Pages Group - so what does this have to with bargaining today?
The announcement of the sale agreement was followed by months of uncertainty for the affected employees, a broken promise that they could choose whom they worked for, forced transfers, mass layoffs, grievances, Labour Board challenge, TEAM-IFPTE 161 pressuring YPG to pay out the full VRIP/Severance entitlements, and pension funds locked in limbo, leaving retirees unable to draw their MTS pensions. The full story is available on the TEAM website at www.teamunion.mb.ca.
In January 2007 an arbitrator issued the following interim award and order:
“Based on all of the foregoing, I hold for the Union’s position on the preliminary question of law posed by the parties. By virtue of the sale, the employees did not become employed by YPG. As submitted by the Union, the employees were entitled to elect between their collective agreement rights against MTS (if any) and accepting employment with YPG.”
In February 2007 the Company approached the unions to discuss settlement options. All parties have been working diligently to reach a settlement, and the hope is that this chapter will be closed in the near future. Closed but not forgotten!
So, what does this have to do with bargaining?
The MTS Media sell-off didn’t have to unfold the way it did; the unions’ position on whether an employee can be sold with the business was confirmed by a highly respected and experienced Manitoba arbitrator Mr. Arne Peltz. MTS’s position was that the employees were assets of the Company and therefore formed part of the sale.
In many one-on-one meetings with members and membership surveys, job protection and security was a significant issue that needed to be addressed at bargaining. The people that worked at MTS Media were hard working and dedicated, bringing in millions of dollars in profit for the Company over many years, yet it bought them nothing when the Company chose to sell the business. “I put in many extra hours for this company and never claimed. It didn’t make any difference” – a former MTS Media employee
TEAM tabled a proposal at bargaining that would provide clarity and rules for the company to follow in the event of another sell-off or outsourcing, such as what happened with SAP Sustainment. Even with what happened with the MTS Media sell-off and the aftermath, MTS said No to TEAM’s proposal.
So what is so terrible about the proposal that the Company says “No”?
We don’t know! The Company didn’t see fit to even provide a counterproposal.
Perhaps TEAM is being too demanding, unrealistic, and if they get their way it will break the Company?
Here are the key points of our last proposal to the company on this issue:
- Advance notice of an outsourcing or sell-off (TEAM is willing to sign an agreement of confidentiality when appropriate);
- To be able to meet with the Company to discuss ways to avert or minimize layoffs;
- Confirmation that an employee has a choice;
- Clarity that affected employees can exercise their rights, such as, the VRIP, voluntary severance, and relevant provisions of the Collective Agreement.
And, the Company still said “No”!
The next bargaining session will be held on August 27 through August 29. Your TEAM bargaining committee will again attempt to move the Company on this issue as well as many other important issues that the Company has rejected.
Your TEAM Bargaining Committee
A number of members have requested more information on the DC vs DB debate. The June/August 2007 issue of Employee Benefit News Canada magazine has an interesting article on the DB plan - it starts on page 1 (top right), and continues page 19: