Today, Monday August 27, your TEAM-IFPTE Local 161 Bargaining Committee is meeting with MTS management in front of the federally appointed conciliator at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg. We are committed to the Conciliation/Mediation process under the Canada Labour Code. This same process has successfully assisted many other unions and companies in negotiations to achieve a successful outcome for both parties.
Your Bargaining Committee is committed to working day and night with management to achieve a fair collective agreement to bring to you for ratification. Given that management is saying that they too are committed to this conciliation/mediation process, we will work as long and as hard as it takes to get an agreement.
This is certainly the most serious round of bargaining that our union has faced in its history. We have laid our cards on the table with management and told them exactly what our members’ priorities are for bargaining.
You have told us repeatedly about your concerns for a fair and predictable process to deal with company reorganizations and sell-offs. The MTS Media sell-off, the SAP outsourcing and layoffs after TEAM exceeded their reduction numbers made this clear to all of us. We believe our proposals to address these concerns are fair and reasonable.
TEAM has proposed:
A fair process in the event of layoffs, which does not leave single incumbents stranded and alone (this affects almost half of our membership) and gives added recognition for loyal service.
Enabling MTS to continue its use of contractors but limiting their number and duration (ten years is way too long!), and ensuring employees are treated equally and get the same training opportunities.
In the event of future outsourcing or sell offs, that the Company provide enough notice in advance so that we can have meaningful discussions to mitigate the impact, and recognizes that employees have the right to remain with the Company rather than being sold like chattel (over 50 of our members were adversely impacted by the lack of just such protection in our last Collective Agreement).
You have also expressed your frustration with lack of job and career advancement opportunities.
TEAM has proposed:
To tighten up the current use of acting and temporary appointments, in order to give more employees greater opportunities.
Assurances around future training so that your skills remain current, you can advance in your career, and can better weather a downsizing.
A more effective lateral transfer mechanism to give you greater career advancement opportunities.
You have also expressed your dissatisfaction with the current “C” scale, which affects almost 100 of our members, mostly female. These members do the same work as their colleagues; they are paid less and promoted less. The “C” scale is unfair and discriminatory and needs to end.
We have also been fighting to defend your defined benefit pension plan at the bargaining table. Management has tried to use business language to justify what is a dramatic & profound change to our benefits. But they fail to respect our responsibility to our families to preserve the benefits we’ve earned. A secure pension plan with predictable payouts is the least our families can expect after supporting our careers for many years. Given that federal pension laws grant employers the right to average pension funding over ten years and weather short-term troughs of weak investment returns, there’s no rational reason to transfer the risk onto our families and our newest colleagues. How can management justify an employee doing the same job with equal responsibility and equal performance expectations as other employees, being treated like a second-class citizen? None of us want this kind of discrimination for ourselves or our children.
In management’s recent communiqué they talk about the rationale for their benefit proposal “to better control, predict, and manage our future pension cost”. Yet nowhere in their communication do they talk about their commitment to loyal employees, Manitoban’s, or our families.
We have communicated with Ms. Aliana Rozenek, Chief Human Resources Officer regarding negotiations. We think our negotiations deserve a greater level of commitment by senior management. The current management committee only manages a small portion of the TEAM membership and cannot see all the problems within other VP groups. In our past negotiations, and in recent negotiations with other unions at MTS, the VP of Human Resources and the VP of Finance attended bargaining. We think we deserve the same respect that was extended to us in previous rounds of Bargaining and was extended to other Unions in the current round of negotiations within MTS Allstream.
We were also concerned about the message conveyed in another company communication. Mr. Blouin during his recent conference call to all employees stated that TEAM-IFPTE is a “US based union that is representing our employees”. We interpreted Mr Blouin’s “U.S.” comment as a slight and rather hypocritical as, of the 5 bargaining units at MTS Allstream, 3 are international unions (USW, IBEW and TEAM). Also a number of the institutional shareholders and MTS Allstream partners have U.S. offices - as we would expect in a global economy. TEAM believes that the days of uttering anti-US sentiments are behind us. More importantly, as far as the origin of the proposals being presented in collective bargaining we can assure Mr Blouin that these are 100% Manitoban, coming directly from the members of TEAM.
As members of TEAM, we are inviting you to call directly to your Bargaining Committee at 771-1248 to get a report on bargaining from a member of your negotiating team. Leave your name and phone number and a bargaining committee member will return your call as soon as we have a moment.
Your TEAM Bargaining Committee
P.S. 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:
www.teamunion.mb.ca www.mtsallstreamwatch.info www.mtspensionplan.ca