To: TEAM-IFPTE Local 161 Members
From: TEAM Office
Date: April 13, 2021
Re: Downsizing of TEAM Jobs
In our EVRTIP Results memo of March 23rd, we advised that Bell targeted up to 35 TEAM positions for elimination and accepted 39 applications in the recent EVRTIP (plus an additional two from members who self identified just prior to the EVRTIP). Despite exceeding its targeted number of reductions (and therefore exceeding its financial targets), Bell has decided to layoff three (3) TEAM members. Surprisingly, two of the laid off members are on medical leaves, raising concerns about discrimination based on disability. Bell has advised these two members that they will be laid off if/when they recover.
For various reasons, including business and skill requirements, Bell advised it was not possible to redeploy the laid off individuals to any of the positions from which 34 EVRTIP applications were denied or to any of the other options TEAM presented for consideration. TEAM staff have reached out to the impacted members to discuss options.
TEAM believes there is no legitimate need for these layoffs. Further, TEAM disputes the need for the reductions specified in the recent EVRTIP and the overall continued downsizing of the TEAM bargaining unit, which we believe is being driven in part by anti-union animus.
Members report no lack of work in most of the targeted positions/areas. In fact, workloads continue to increase. In many areas there is too much work for already overburdened employees. TEAM members who have left (or will be departing soon) are concerned that their jobs will not be refilled and their work will simply be redistributed and added to the already full plates of remaining TEAM members.
Confusion and frustration only grows when TEAM members’ jobs are targeted for elimination while what appears to be the same jobs/work is posted to Bell employees outside of Manitoba and externally. When members inquire about these postings, they are told that in order to perform that work TEAM members must relocate outside of Manitoba and leave the union and the current Defined Benefit Pension Plan. With the majority of Bell employees able to work productively from home due to the pandemic, it is essentially impossible to find a legitimate business reason for Bell’s policy to not allow TEAM members, or any other Manitobans, to apply for “national jobs” at Bell.
Additionally, we are concerned about other Bell policies imposed exclusively on TEAM members, such as the supposed ‘80/20 rule’, which restricts TEAM member to Bell work that pertains predominantly to the Manitoba market. Several members report being told this is a union rule. We assure you this is not the case, and TEAM does not condone or support such a rule or policy. While we wait to hear more from Bell about this policy, we understand that non-unionized employees in Manitoba are not restricted in the same manner and have been doing work outside of the Manitoba market without having to relocate and leave the DB pension plan. Bell has candidly acknowledged that the reason TEAM members are being denied national work is because of their union membership (compared to peers in other jurisdictions).
Article 4 of our collective agreement and section 94(3) of the Canada Labour Code prohibit Bell from treating employees in a discriminatory manner because of their membership or participation in a union. Yesterday, TEAM filed a Policy grievance to address this unfair and unreasonable treatment of our membership and the unjustified layoff of three TEAM members. The allegations of discrimination and improper layoffs will have to be proven through the grievance/arbitration process. TEAM’s legal counsel believes that TEAM has a very strong case. Bell has the onus to show it is not discriminating against members because of their union affiliation.
In the meantime, TEAM will continue to work on pursuing and securing access to national opportunities for members through continuing negotiations with Bell’s Manitoba labour relations department. To assist us, we ask members to keep an eye out for and to let us know about work that has historically been performed by TEAM members being moved to Bell outside of Manitoba. Another way to help is for members to notify TEAM if they see Bell post a national job that could be done by TEAM members in Manitoba if it were not for the Bell exclusion policy.
TEAM-IFPTE Local 161
204-984-9470 or 1-877-984-9470