Collective Bargaining Update and Member Activities
Collective Bargaining Update
During the last two weeks, TEAM has witnessed unprecedented member involvement in support of a fair and equitable collective agreement. As well, a number of successful bargaining campaign activities have taken place.
Over 300+ TEAM Members Attended Meetings:
TEAM held appropriately a dozen CAR & CAN member meetings around the Province. These meetings reviewed the status of bargaining, the campaign, and where we need to go from here. Attendance was excellent and sometimes standing room only. There was much discussion and unanimous support for the member issues TEAM is pursuing at the bargaining table, the campaign and where we need to go from here. Members reiterated their commitment to the TEAM strategic campaign.
TEAM weighs into MTS Allstream AGM:
At the MTS Allstream Annual General Meeting, TEAM was joined by other unions, such as CEP, IBEW, COPE, as well as the Manitoba Federation of Labour in leafleting shareholders and asking questions. The materials distributed included a critique of a proposed stock option plan and an analysis of MTS since its privatization 10 years ago. The latter document was created by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, in conjunction with TEAM, CEP and IBEW. MTS Allstream unions are now working more closely than ever, which can only have a positive impact in bargaining.
In regard to the stock option resolution, on which MTS Board and principal officers were urging AGM approval, TEAM felt that such “refuelling” of the Company’s stock option plan was way too generous given that over 300 jobs have been lost in Manitoba over the last year and members are being told to do more with less. Through this option plan, Senior Executives are to be rewarded with an additional 3.5 million stock options. These new options will be available via grants and will add to the over $5.7 million in options that were already in the hands of the Company’s top five executive officers at the end of 2006. Significantly, over 20% of shareholders voted with TEAM against this option plan. TEAM was assisted by the Shareholders Association for Research and Education (SHARE) in understanding the generous nature of this stock option proposal.
TEAM felt it necessary to intervene in the AGM. TEAM members are not just employees of MTS Allstream, but also shareholders and they live in the communities impacted by MTS Allstream job losses, etc.
Provincial Election Questionnaire:
TEAM circulated a questionnaire to all provincial candidates soliciting their opinions on a variety of issues, including MTS job losses in our communities, Manitoba MTS work going east, west and offshore, etc. We intend to collate and make use of their responses over the coming months.
The Bargaining Table:
The MTS Allstream bargaining committee is not yet serious about bargaining a collective agreement that deals with the issues of its professional employees. Although there is a lot more respect at the bargaining table than in previous rounds of bargaining, and some “housekeeping” issues have been signed off, MTS Allstream continues to avoid serious discussions and problem solving on the issues that are key to you the employees. As an example, on Job Protection and Security member issues, not a single proposal has been agreed to.
The MTS Allstream chief negotiator has dismissively stated that the Company does not want to give up any current rights. It thinks the status quo is just fine. It works for them! When pushed, he acknowledged that other MTS Allstream unions have certain rights that TEAM currently does not have, and states that the professionals in Manitoba cannot have these same rights! The Company also referenced the possibility of bringing in a 3rd party, which could be construed as either a private mediator or perhaps filing for conciliation.
The view of the TEAM bargaining team is that the respective parties need some time away from the table. The chief negotiator for the Company has provided us with very little reason to stay as he continues with the archaic tactic of saying “no” to anything of substance and refuses to problem solve or engage in meaningful dialogue. The hiring of a new VP for Industrial Relations has not translated into any change in the Company’s response at the table either.
The next few weeks will be extremely busy for TEAM and all our members as we work to secure a fair and just collective agreement. TEAM has planned:
§ Member activities that need your support (more on this in the days ahead)
§ A variety of diverse campaign activities
Together we can achieve a fair and equitable collective agreement that provides us with greater respect and rights than the status quo being offered by the Company.
Just say no to the status quo!
Your TEAM Bargaining Committee