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Component Officers' Top-Up

ACCEX met today to review recent allegations made in regards to the Component Officers’ top-up.  After lengthy discussions, the Component Officers provided a recounting of what has transpired to-date regarding this issue.  Information in this bulletin flows from a consensus drawn from their individual statements.
In addition, and prior to recent events, Component had already scheduled an appointment for the Component Trustees to come in and review all documents on January 17, 2019, in regards to the top-up.
The Component Officers took office in February of 2017. As per Bylaws 6.1(k), 6.2(e) and 6.3(s), all three Component Officers are entitled to receive a supplementary top-up from the union in addition to their company paid release to equate each one of them to the highest earner of the bargaining unit, with the Component President being paid one dollar more.
Historically, the committee members of Central Site were sent the top ten earners of any given month, from the Component bookkeeper.  The list is reviewed through examination of the individual’s schedules and a recommendation is made for payout.  In March of 2018, the Component bookkeeper retired and an MOS to reflect that fact was signed in December of 2018. Subsequently, the list of top ten earners was sent to Central Site by Wesley Lesosky, Component Secretary-Treasurer from May 2017 to present.
Admittedly, it was brought to the Component President’s attention that the months of March and April 2017 had not been sent to Central Site for recommendation. However, that oversight was immediately rectified in June 2017 when the Component Secretary-Treasurer sent the details to Central Site as requested by the President. Consequently, the Component President clarified that the process should revert to past practice. Central Site acknowledged the receipt of the March and April lists, but to date has not sent back any corrections or any further input.
In June of 2017, an interpretation of what qualifies for highest earner was sought by the Component Vice-President.  There was also further discussion regarding the process on determining the highest earner.  On June 20, 2017, an interpretation of what qualifies as earnings was provided by the Component President as per the Component Vice-President’s request.  The following is the interpretation:
Hello All,
I am following up on our discussion on Thursday June 15th and as requested, here is my interpretation of the bylaws regarding highest earner.
Some income can’t be accounted for the calculation of the highest earner, i.e., owed vacation, profit sharing, etc… It is my interpretation that the highest earner should be selected the same way as it was in the past.
In the spirit of transparency and to exercise due diligence, we will follow past practice.  Anu will send the top 10 list to Central Site for review prior to approval by the Secretary Treasurer.
Marie-Helene Major
In July of 2017, the Central Site selection of highest earner was challenged and resulted in the Vice-President expressing her disagreement with the Component President’s interpretation and contesting the accuracy of the methodology used by Central Site to CUPE National.  CUPE National’s response was that it was an internal matter to be dealt with.  The Component Vice-President added it to the ACCEX agenda for December 2017, and it was deferred to March 2018.
The question of Special Assignment has always been a contentious issue for the Component Vice-President. The Component Vice-President contends that Special Assignment is legally part of the Collective Agreement and should therefore be considered for top-up.  In the view of the Component Vice-President the June 20, 2017 interpretation did not provide adequate clarity and therefore as per CUPE National’s recommendation the internal discussions continued.
At the ACCEX meeting in March 2018, ACCEX was asked for input and it was reiterated that only the President can provide an interpretation of the Bylaws as per 6.1(e).   The Component Vice-President asked for a new and clearer interpretation of highest earner from the Component President.  The Component President returned and at the time did not have an interpretation finalized but committed to having it at the start of the following week.  In order to provide closure on the subject it was proposed by a local president, and subsequently determined, that the number one highest earner would be selected and retroactively paid out.  The Component President and Component Secretary-Treasurer did not concur with the Component Vice-President’s position on what constitutes highest earner.
From March 2018 onward it was agreed that Special Assignment, if justified, would be paid as the highest earner.  The Component President would review when disagreements arose with Central Site’s recommendations.  This happened in May, June and September 2018 when the Component Vice-President challenged the recommendation.
Due to the ongoing dispute of what comprises the highest earner, a further request for an interpretation was made.
At ACCEX in September 2018, there was language added to Central Site’s mandate to enshrine their involvement in the Highest Earner selection.  (CLICK HERE FOR MANDATE)
In December of 2018, ACCEX reviewed proposed Bylaw amendments.  Specific to the definition of highest earner, ACCEX recommended the addition of Special Assignment to the exclusion list.
In December of 2018, Component Vice-President Beth Mahan presented President Marie-Hélène Major with a letter from her personal legal counsel requesting her to provide an interpretation that specifies all of the categories of earnings excluded in the calculation of the highest earner.
This interpretation was provided on January 7, 2019, and reads as follows:
Hello ACCEX,
Here is my interpretation of the Bylaws regarding the highest earner:
The earnings of the “highest earner of the bargaining unit in that month” is defined as income earned from flying hours and regular vacation only in the respective month. It shall include any Continuous Duty Day (CDD), Duty Overtime (DOT), Draft, Duty Period Guarantee (DPG), and Trip Hour Guarantee (THG).
For greater clarity, the earnings calculation shall exclude any profit sharing, bonuses, lumpsum payment, vacation backpay, timebank or backpay of any sort. Short and long term special assignment shall also be excluded.
The interpretation is based on past practice and the fact that special assignment is work performed outside of our bargaining unit, as per Letter of Understanding 5 of our collective agreement: “cabin personnel on special assignments are recognized to be in a quasi management position with respect to their duties, responsibilities and functions and are expected to perform as part of management during this period.
Marie-Hélène Major
This interpretation was sent to Central Site.
Further to the interpretation that was made on January 7, 2019, a motion was passed to apply this interpretation retroactively to the beginning of the Component Officers’ term.
To the best of our knowledge, we believe there was no fraud.  We are committed in following our internal process to ensure that the statements provided in this bulletin are accurate and that no fraudulent activity has occurred.
In solidarity,