Union History: Mandatory Arbitration and Work to Rule
Trade Unions achieved legitimacy in the late 19th century. Prior to that, Industrial Unions were “underground” organizations. The reason for this was that forming or belonging to a trade Union was illegal under “Restriction of Free Trade” laws. These laws held that a Union of employees would prevent the Employer from negotiating freely with each individual employee. This of course, ignored the fact that any employee would be at a serious disadvantage in individual negotiations with their Employer.
Thankfully the right to form and belong to a Trade Union is now recognized as a Human Right under the United Nations charter.
When Unions initially achieved legal recognition, there was little in the way of a legal framework under which to operate. The strike really was the only tool available in order to resolve disputes and achieve better wages and working conditions. If there was a grievance to be resolved, employees would stop working until this grievance was settled. Such strikes were called “wild cat” strikes as they were often motivated by anger over a currently occurring injustice. These strikes were often resolved to the advantage of the Unionized employees, but did lead to much labour disruption.
Grievance arbitration was instituted during World War II. As part of the war effort, most Unions had adopted a no-strike pledge. Governments then extended this “no strike” provision to grievance handling in order to ensure that war time production was not hampered by labour unrest caused by unresolved grievances. Grievance arbitration was legislated into the Federal Labour Code and became law. It is now required that all collective agreements contain an arbitration provision, and it is illegal for a Union to strike over grievances that occur during the life of a collective agreement.
However the legal requirement to arbitrate of grievances deprived Unions of one of their key tools in resolving disputes long after World War II had ended. Prior to mandatory arbitration, workers clearly understood what it meant to stand together and fight for a principle. After mandatory arbitration, workers were left to wait for a “grievance” to be legally “processed” by their Union and Employer.
It is a well known legal aphorism that: “Justice delayed is justice denied”. It has also long been recognized that the legal system favours the wealthy and powerful, and that because of this, Unions are at a disadvantage within this system. Many of the great victories of the Labour Movement such as the minimum wage, abolition of child labour, and the eight hour day were achieved by strike action and civil disobedience. More recently, the refusal of Unionized South African dock workers to handle an arms shipment from China to Zimbabwe has resulted in those arms being shipped back to China. Given that these arms would likely be used by the Mugabe regime to suppress democratic reform and the people of Zimbabwe, this “strike” action likely averted a bloodbath.
But between arbitration and striking, there is a middle road called “Work to Rule”. What this means is that when the relations between an Employer and its Unionized employees are strained because of grievances, the Union can call upon its members to do no more than is absolutely required of them under their rules of employment (collective agreement and legitimate policies). This normally means taking every break you are entitled to, not working any overtime (or voluntary extensions), and working the minimum number of hours possible. This has the effect of making the operation more costly to run for the Employer, and hopefully of making the Employer more receptive to the Unionized employees legitimate demands. Another aspect of work to rule is to carry out a small organized form of protest that does not disrupt the operation, but is a visible sign of dissatisfaction (eg. the wearing of a protest button).
While wild cat strikes are illegal, “Work to Rule” campaigns are not. In order to be effective, “Work to Rule” campaigns should be carefully coordinated by the Union, and strictly observed by Union members in order to succeed. This is called “Solidarity”, and is the backbone of any Union.
Presently, your Union is requesting that you conduct a visual show of Solidarity by the wearing of your CUPE pin. This is something you are entitled to and sends a clear message to the Employer.
Solidarity = Strength = Power!
In Solidarity, Wear your Union pin. Please ensure that your Union Sisters and Brothers also wear theirs.
If anyone does not have a pin, please contact one of your Local Union officers immediately.
Bargaining Proposals and Next Steps to negotiating in 2009
All of the Locals across the system have now received all of your bargaining proposals for the negotiation of our 2009 collective agreement. On May 13 2008 the Component Executive will meet as part of our regular ACCEX quarterly meeting, to discuss our next steps in the process leading up to negotiations with the Employer. Having received your proposals, we must now begin the task of collating the proposals into the form of a membership Bargaining Survey. This is a monumental task and will require weeks and weeks of extremely diligent work. This survey then comprises of your bargaining proposals in a format that allows you to decide what your priorities are and ranks your priorities 1 – 5, 5 being high, one being low, for example.
When ready for distribution, the Bargaining Survey will be placed in every members’ mailfolder for your perusal and completion. It cannot be stressed enough how important it will be to your collective future to ensure that you fill out the survey. Do not leave it to someone else to determine your priorities. Your participation is crucial. The survey results will be scrutinized by the Component Executive who will then in turn adopt your top priorities. This extremely important material then becomes the “doctrine” used by your Negotiations Committee. The Negotiations Committee is comprised of the entire Component Executive. Remember, you are the Union’s principles, you decide what issues we take into negotiations.
Meetings with the Employer – Your right to Union representation
If you are called upon by Air Canada Management to attend any Company meetings which may or may not result in discipline, you have the right to Union representation at these meetings. Under the collective agreement you may request Union representation. You cannot be forced to attend any meetings without Union representation and as such you must be given reasonable notice of attendance and given full opportunity to exercise your rights under the collective agreement. You are further advised that you need not respond to any questions put to you by the Employer without the presence of your Union representatives. If you are contacted by Air Canada Management to attend any meetings, please contact your Local Union Office who will advise you on how to proceed.
AC Component Officer Trustees
Since the completion of the Trustees Report to the membership in March 2008, the Union has received numerous requests, questions and concerns. Below is some information on the role, duties and obligations of the Component Trustees:
The Component By-Laws provide for the election of three (3) Component Trustees. For the first time in our Union’s history, elections were held for the three positions in March/April 2007. Section 7.4 of our By-Laws instructs the Trustees in
their duties, responsibilities and obligations. The Trustees act as an auditing committee on behalf of the members and audit the books and accounts of the Component Secretary Treasurer and the Component Committees at least once every calendar year.
The Trustees undertook to audit the periods 2004 – 2006 as the Component By-Laws were completely revamped in 2004. This made perfect sense as a starting point for the initial audit. Their duties include ensuring that the Component Union’s funds, records, and accounts are being maintained by the Component Secretary Treasurer in an organized, correct and proper manner. Also included in their responsibilities are to ensure that monies are not paid out without proper constitutional authorization and that proper financial reports are made to the membership. Inspections are conducted on stocks, bonds, securities, office furniture and equipment and titles or deeds to property that may be owned by the Component.
Findings must be reported to CUPE National and the Component Executive (ACCEX) as well as any recommendations and or concerns copied to the membership.
I will address one of the areas of concern and that is utilization of and payments to former Union officers/ retired members participating in Union activities on behalf of the membership. I cannot comment on any past leadership decisions to hire back retired officers, whether on a permanent basis or not. What I can inform the membership on is what your current Leadership is doing on behalf of the membership. We feel it is imperative that we retain the best qualified experts to assist us in protecting your rights under the collective agreement as and when required for various issues. Most usually these resources would be used for specific grievance hearings with Chief Arbitrator Teplitsky and/or Arbitration hearings with other Arbitrators. We hire Lawyers, Forensic Accountants etc. and at times will require the use of former Union officers to assist with historical intent of specific collective agreement clauses as it pertains to them being called as witnesses on behalf of the Union, to Arbitrations etc.
Payment of fees negotiated for services provided by former Union officers will be decided upon by the Component Executive. The recommendation put forth by the Trustees in their Report on this concern was to mirror CUPE National’s policy for retired officers used as consultants. This amount ($400 per day plus meal/transportation expenses) will be offered to retired members on an ad hoc basis as required. This amount or any amount above this rate negotiated will be approved or not by the Component Executive and in keeping with the memberships best interests.
For your information, a motion was passed at the April 2008 YVR Local Union membership meeting that a copy of the Trustees Report and the Secretary Treasurer’s response be sent out electronically as well as a copy to everyone’s home address. The Report and response is also available on the AC Component Website at accomponent.ca.
Please direct any questions and/or concerns with the Trustees Report to Katherine Thompson, Component Secretary Treasurer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caracas (CCS) overnight turnarounds
The Union has successfully negotiated incorporating the Caracas (CCS) overnight turnaround pairings into LOU 28 – Crew Breaks, specifically L28.01 of the collective agreement. All of the provisions of LOU 28 that apply to the Port of Spain (POS) overnight pairing will now apply to the CCS overnight turnarounds.
L28.01 Due to the special nature of the Port of Spain overnight turnaround pairing, the Company agrees that Cabin Personnel operating this pairing may sleep in the last sold seats, as defined in LOU 27, if they are available. The use of these seats to sleep shall not interfere, in any way, with cabin service.
NOTE: This clause shall apply to any flight leg of more than 8 hours.
Duty Day Limitations under Article B5
Relevant Provisions: B5.02.03.01: The maximum duty day for a domestic flight is 13 hours and the maximum duty day for an overseas flight is 14 hours. Once the duty day has exceeded 13/14 hours, and the employee is at a crew base, the employee can request a release from the flight. If the employee is at a crew base and the duty period is expected to exceed 13/14 hours, the employee can elect to take crew rest and is not subject to reassignment.
B5.02.03.03.01: Once the duty period is projected to exceed 13/14 hours, the employee must inform the In-Charge of his/her decision to exceed the limitation or take crew rest.
B5.02.03.03.03: Once the employee decides to exceed the limitation period, the employee may change his/her decision only if there is a further extension of the duty period.
Important: Where the employee decides to take crew rest, the employee cannot deadhead to home base, unless s/he arrives at home base within 13/14 hours. Exception: if a deadhead to home base was scheduled in the original pairing, then the duty period can be scheduled to complete the deadhead within 15/16 hours provided the operational flying is within 13/14 hours.
Decision: To be pay protected in this situation, the individual employee must elect to exceed the limitation period prior to the cancellation of the flight.
Unless the employee communicates his/her individual decision, that (s)he is taking crew rest, the employee should not have pay protection taken away.
ARBITRATOR: Tom Jolliffe – July 3rd, 1997
THE BOTTOM LINE
As soon as the duty period is projected to exceed 13/14 hours, the flight attendant must advise the In-Charge of the decision to either take crew rest or exceed the limitation period. It is up to the In-Charge to communicate the flight attendant’s decision to the captain and crew scheduling. However, the In-Charge is not the agent for the flight attendants and cannot make the decision on behalf of the flight attendant. Finally, the employees cannot be bound by the incorrect information communicated to crew scheduling by the In-Charge.
National Day of Mourning
April 28 National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job. Please visit https://www.CUPE.ca/news/National_Day_of_Mour, https://www.ccohs.ca/events/mourning/
Component Committee Position Available
The Union is looking to fill a committee member position on the WIP (Wage Indemnity Program) Board of Trustees. If you are interested, please contact myself at email@example.com.
Once again, Component communiqués to the membership are now mainly electronic. It is therefore vital that all our members sign up for electronic bulletins. As we get closer to and during actual bargaining, electronic communications will be the most effective mean
s of contacting our members with the latest updates. We urge you all to sign up now. To receive Union bulletins electronically, go to our website www.accomponent.ca and click on Join Our Email List.
Lesley Swann, President, Air Canada Component of CUPE