FROM THE GROUND UP
Volume 1 Number 4 January 2023
In this issue
Let us Unite and Stand Together
A message from your National President
CEIU/PSAC members from coast to coast continue to reach out to their union on different topics: payroll issues related to the Phoenix system; systemic racism; staffing issues, among others.
Your Union understands the importance of communicating with its membership and your National Executive has decided to resume the production of the CEIU Newsletter to support, educate and communicate with our members.
This tool will not only be used to share information with our members but also to be transparent to our community.
Our union's strength lies in our members' determination and resilience. With your help and support, we have been able to show the employer, and the federal government, that the voice of their employees, our members, MATTERS.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is still in the collective bargaining process, and we MUST stand together and show the employer that we are united as ONE and that we deserve fair working conditions. The government must support each of us, its very own employees. As public servants, WE have served and held together our country during one of the most difficult periods in its history and we continue, day in and day out, to serve the Canadian public.
CEIU has grown exponentially over the past few years. With nearly 31,000 members, we have a responsibility to advocate on your behalf and equip each of you. As a CEIU/PSAC member, you need to be able to understand your rights and obligations to your employer. You are not ALONE when you face injustices in your workplace—YOUR UNION, is here for you!
Remember that WE are STRONGER TOGETHER!
Thank you all for your support!
Proud of our Union history
A message from your National
As we relaunch our national CEIU Newsletter amidst a contentious round of collective bargaining, I will ask for your indulgence as I use this space to remind our members of the proud history of our union, and our decades-long commitment to collective bargaining.
In 1980, we found ourselves in contract negotiations. Pay equity wage increases were desperately needed by our members, the vast majority of whom were women who held clerk positions. CEIU members in Toronto and all of Quebec walked out on September 8th, 1980 – five days before the PSAC called for a strike vote. We organized province-wide walkouts throughout the strike. And as a result, we achieved the largest pay equity increase in the history of Canada: 24.7%.
In 1984, CEIU and the PSAC filed a massive human rights complaint against the Treasury Board overpay discrimination. And when the tribunal ruled in favour of the membership, with a 4.5 billion dollar victory, the employer filed an appeal in federal court. In an immediate response, CEIU members across Canada walked off the job in protest and held demonstrations across the country. Federal courts later dismissed the appeal, but the activism of CEIU members demonstrated was unprecedented within the PSAC.
In 1991, the Tory federal government created a showdown with the unions by freezing wage increases. CEIU lead the PSAC out again, but this time, with the largest strike led by one union that this country had ever seen.
CEIU has always understood the necessity of a bottom-up approach to priority building within our union. Together, we have changed not only our union’s culture, but we have helped form and reframe government policies and the treatment of our clients by our employers.
I am so proud to represent our members. So proud to work with our incredible staff. Thank you. It is my privilege to serve as the NEVP of CEIU.
National Executive Vice-president
UPDATES ON NATIONAL FILES
By Luc Pomerleau
In this round of bargaining at the PA table, the PSAC is trying to improve article 59 of the PA collective agreement, which concerns call centre employees.
For CEIU, the national call centre committee plays an important role. It ensures that the union has serious discussions and consultations with the two departments with call centres where our members work.
For example, CEIU succeeded in eliminating the three-warnings rule at Service Canada, but there is still work to be done at the IRCC level.
CEIU is consulted regularly with the recording of calls to Service Canada. For members, this is an important tool for both Payment Services Officers (PSOs) and Business Expertise Advisors (BEAs).
Ironically, although the department wanted to record 100% of the calls, the recording system imposes a limit allowing only a percentage of the calls to be recorded. This registration system is used jointly with the Canada Revenue Agency and Shared Services Canada.
Training remains a major challenge. Many people do not get the training they need to do their jobs well. Teleworking has accentuated this problem.
Essential services agreements
While the PSAC faces an employer who refuses to improve its salary offer, it is actively working to mobilize members. To put pressure on the employer, the PSAC is offering a strike preparation course, in person and online.
For CEIU, in connection with these means of pressure, we are discussing the so-called "essential" positions with the three employers. These discussions are only one step in developing lists of so-called essential positions. Agreements will be finalized between the PSAC and the Treasury Board Secretariat. However, CEIU plays a key role in developing these agreements.
As part of these discussions, it is clear that more positions will be deemed essential in the three departments. This is quite normal considering the substantial staff increases in these two departments. However, CEIU ensures that no more of our members are identified in essential positions. For example, if a job type had 50% essential jobs in 2019, CEIU does not expect that percentage to increase in 2022.
CEIU has the most members of the PA group and, therefore, plays an important role in the pressure tactics that the PSAC is putting in place in the context of this round of bargaining.
By Luc Pomerleau
This year, CEIU received 38 requests from across the country. The National Executive approved the 15 candidates from this list who will receive a CEIU National Scholarship worth $5,000. Their names appear on the CEIU website in the news section.
The succession is assured
The union's strength is the involvement of people who do not hesitate to give their time for a good cause. This desire to make a difference seems to have been passed on to the new generation, which is more involved in their communities.
This is the case of a scholarship recipient who was involved in various school bands and also participated at the community level. She got involved in youth groups for a few years, going as far as leading setlist teams. Another recipient raised funds for veterans and Legion members.
"These initiatives prove that our members have transmitted
important values to the next generation."
National Executive Meeting
By Sue Séguin
CEIU National Executive members met in person for their fall meeting, from September 14th to 17th, 2022, at the Marriott Hotel in Ottawa, Ontario.
The Finance and By-Laws Committees each held their meeting on September 12th, and a training session was held for the NE on September 13th.
The minutes of the April 5th to 9th, 2022, NE meeting were approved and are available on the CEIU website in the “MINUTES” folder. A member of your Local Executive will provide you with the “password” if you wish to read these minutes.
The National President and the National Executive Vice-President both read their reports, which you can view on our website.
The National Executive agreed to establish a one-time strike fund that will provide each CEIU member on strike with $50 per day. This amount will not affect other strike pay that members would receive from the PSAC and potentially their own CEIU Local.
Other recommendations made by the Finance and Bylaws committees included:
- Increase the computer and equipment budget from $20,000 to $30,000 to cover the cost of additional computers and equipment related to staffing.
- Increase the printing and stationery budget from $10,000 to $30,000 to cover the cost of printing the newsletter.
- Increase the budget for standard and express mailings from $14,000 to $19,000 to cover the cost of mailing the newsletter.
- Donations should be increased from $20,000 to $100,000 to facilitate the donation of $10,000 by each region at the discretion of the NVP/region.
- Donate $2,000 to Magalie Picard’s candidacy for QLF President.
- Increase the restricted fund to an amount equivalent to 12 months of the operational budget.
- Increase the hourly rate under the family care policy to $25 per hour with a daily cap of $250 for the first dependent and provide the same amount for each additional dependent.
- Expand the insurance liability policy to all locals.
- That Policy 22 be rescinded from the Policy Booklet as it is outdated, etc.
Also, the National Executive awarded 15 scholarships to recipients based on the criteria that were proposed. These recipients will be notified by email, and some of the essays submitted will be posted on the CEIU website.
The National Women’s Committee has been asked to determine the pros and cons of on-site family childcare under the Family Child Care Policy. This item will be on the agenda for the next committee meeting.
At the request of the NCR NVP, the National Executive agreed to put Local 70704 in trusteeship until a full executive team can be elected and will ensure that all financial records are up to date.
The National Vice-Presidents are given until the next NE meeting (scheduled for February 8th to 11th, 2023) to ensure that locals that are currently in non-compliance are managed to remedy the situation.
The National Executive appointed Sharon DeSousa, PSAC National Executive Vice-President, as the Nominations and Elections Chair for the upcoming CEIU elections and the 2023 CEIU Convention. She has accepted. As a member of CEIU, the NE is pleased to welcome her to this position.
The National Executive recommended that the National Office consider four possible cities for the 2026 CEIU Convention: Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Yellowknife. A report will be provided to the NE in February 2023. The report will compare the costs and offerings of each of these cities to host our conference. The NE will select the ideal site to sign a contract with the hotel in the city chosen.
The National President reminded the NE of the work needed to achieve the resolutions passed at the 2021 CEIU Convention: paid sick leave for survivors of domestic violence, a mentorship program for union activists and officers, and an audit of CEIU activities. These items were discussed and will be reviewed.
Due to time constraints, the NVP and National Committee reports will be presented soon by Zoom and will be posted on the website and sent to the respective Local Officers.
As always, your NPVs are available if you wish to email or speak to them about any issue.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2022 CEIU NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS/RACE RELATIONS (HRRR) CONFERENCE
By Sue Séguin
The 2022 CEIU National HRRR Conference was held September 24th and 25th, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver, B.C.
The National Office received 99 requests from members to attend the conference as delegates or observers. Forty-eight (48) delegates participated in the conference as per a 1993 resolution that limits the number of delegates to 48.
Under the theme “BE THE CHANGE,” the conference opened with a powerful Aboriginal performance by the Chinook Song Catchers, a group of professional entertainers who have been active for over 25 years.
The National Vice President for Human Rights and Chair of the National HRRR Committee, Sebastian Rodrigues, welcomed the delegation from all regions of Canada and representatives of all equity groups in the workplace and the union. He added that as part of CEIU’s commitment to advancing equity in members’ workplaces, CEIU had established national labor-management equity committees with each of the three employers represented by CEIU: ESDC, IRCC, and the IRB.
Crystal Warner, the NEVP addressed the delegation and on behalf of the National President, who had to leave the conference early, wished everyone a great conference. In her address, the NEVP indicated that CEIU and the PSAC continue to struggle to improve working conditions in our workplaces and within our union structure for members of equity groups.
The delegation was informed of the National Executive’s decision to provide an additional $50.00 strike pay, per day to CEIU members who will support and join the fight against the employer. The $50 is in addition to the PSAC daily strike pay.
Unique and informative speakers
Two speakers addressed the participants. The first speaker was Deborah Johnson of the Orange Shirt Society, a residential school survivor. She gave a heart-wrenching speech about her experience as a residential school student. The second speaker was Heather McCain from Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods (CAN), who presented the importance of making our spaces more accessible.
Todd Smith, CEIU National Union Representative for the BC/Yukon Regional Union Office, provided training on administrative investigations and duty to accommodate.
Electing a new HRRR National Committee
As with every National HRRR Conference, equity caucuses and elections were part of the agenda. Members of the four equity groups each elected two representatives to the committee. The elected representatives were introduced:
- Rod Cunningham was re-elected, and Corrina Gavan was elected as the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit representatives.
- Sabbir Umarji and Lisa Prescott were elected as the Racially Visible representatives.
- Neil Wood and Kelli Reid were elected representatives of the members with disabilities.
- Aly Kanani and Karen MacFarlane were re-elected as the LGBTQ2+ representatives.
- Mark James-Bhasin was acclaimed as the non-binary representative.
These nine (9) representatives will take office at the close of the 2023 CEIU National Convention.
Review of Accomplishments
Wendy Ann Moulton, the representative for members with disabilities, read the HRRR committee’s report. This document summarized some activities the committee has undertaken during its term:
- Preparation of statements for equity days.
- National planning on HRRR conference—themes, speakers, etc.
- Discussions on workplace issues are a standing agenda item at committee meetings.
- Prepared eight (8) resolutions to debate at the 2022 National HRRR Conference.
- Drafted a “Territory Recognition Guide.”
- Participated in an engagement introduction course on how to communicate with their alternates and members and build a relationship and discuss issues that affect our workplaces.
- Discussion at each committee meeting is held about the self-identification form and the importance of encouraging CEIU members to identify themselves to their union and in their workplace.
Closing of the conference
At the end of the national conference, Sebastian Rodrigues thanked everyone for their participation during the two (2) days of the conference. He highlighted the work of the union staff and especially the contribution of Sue Seguin from the national office, who contributed to the preparation and success of the conference.
If you have not yet self-identified with your union, click on the QR code, which will take you to the self-identification form that you can fill out and return to the CEIU National Office.
IRB committee meeting
By Michaëlle Antoine
From September 8th to 11th, 2022, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) committee held a meeting to review its progress.
Chaired by Michaëlle Antoine, IRB National Vice-president, the meeting began with a presentation of the CEIU Bylaws by Crystal Warner, National Executive Vice-President. During this meeting, in addition to two training activities, presentations and discussions were held on the following topics:
Classification grievances — PM-01 and PM-06
The process of these grievances lasted more than a year and a half. Unfortunately, the efforts made by the employer and the union to raise the classification level of these two positions did not produce the expected results.
Employment equity and human rights
Allison Pilon, the Human Rights and Employment Equity Officer, made a presentation on the subject and answered questions from the members present.
Jodi MacPherson, National Vice-President for Women’s Issues in Eastern Canada, gave a presentation on the theme “What is an ally?”
Ashley Pétrin, Membership Engagement Officer at CEIU, gave training on mobilization. During this presentation, she returned to the issues of mobilization and presented various tools to mobilize members in anticipation of a possible strike.
National issues for our members
Michaëlle Antoine and the representatives of the different regions provided their respective reports on their activities and the problems encountered.
"We found that several issues raised by the regions were repeated nationally"
From the work overload for commissioners, to problems with the staffing process, the CR-05/PM-01 pilot project, teleworking, etc.
During the joint meeting of the IRCC and IRB committees, Crystal Warner and Eddy Bourque, CEIU National President, presented an update on progress within the union. In addition to these presentations, Sami Oueni, National Union Representative for the Québec region, gave the training “How to deal with management.”
In addition, Seema Lamba, Human Rights Officer for the PSAC, presented the situation of immigrants, particularly undocumented workers whose status is not regularized. From these analyses, the government should create a program—unless it has already been initiated—to regularize the situation of these people by granting them permanent residence.
In conclusion, the committee is committed to meeting quarterly, virtually or in person.
Phoenix: The fiasco continues
By Luc Pomerleau
For six years, CEIU members have suffered the consequences of a poorly designed system for paying federal public servants. CEIU members filed nearly 1,000 grievances related to this situation. Of these, 250 grievances were closed thanks to the Phoenix compensation agreement signed during the previous round of negotiations.
We want to remind our members, who are suffering from the effects of the Phoenix system, to follow the protocol implemented by your employer. The first step is to discuss with your manager and follow the internal resolution process.
Afterward, the union can also help if you cannot come to an informal arrangement. In addition to the team dedicated by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), CEIU staff continue to help its members in their reimbursement process. Read more at www.psacunion.ca/get-help-Phoenix-pay-issues.
Additionally, you can submit a claim if you incurred personal expenses due to Phoenix failures. These include bank charges for insufficient funds, financial penalties, and interest charges. If the employer refuses to pay certain expenses, it is suggested that members file a grievance. This is probably the only type of grievance that could go to arbitration. Unless otherwise instructed, all other grievances go to Level 3 and are put on hold until the pay issue is resolved.
Updates on the payroll report
Pay Centre Workload Progress - IRB
- 30% increase in the overall queue (number of cases) over the past 6 months, with 35% increase in backlog.
- On average, output is 14% below input.
- On average, IRB cases have been closed and cancelled within 22 days in the past 6 months.
ESDC'S Health of Pay Dashboard
- Active pay-related grievances: 679
Overpayments: 158 M$
Out-of-pocket pay claims: 1401
Underpayments: 60.7 M$
ESDC employees affected: 56.4%
- IRCC Backlog: 10 949
- IRCC Employees with a Pay case: 6 249 (52.5%)
- PSPC Timelines reporting: 79%
- Employee support: 6 sessions
- Number of participants: 278
THIS FIGHT IS FOR YOU
By Ailish Morgan and Ashley Petrin
When we sat down to negotiate improvements to our collective agreement, we had a list of issues that we wanted to be addressed at the bargaining table.
Salary increases are always part of the demands that we present, but the team also focused on addressing systemic racism, prioritizing quality public services by stamping out privatization, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, including the right to work remotely, following the pandemic. These issues are at the core of this round of bargaining and the cornerstones to the improvements that we are hoping to see in our working conditions.
What role can you play?
The best way to help bargaining move forward is to make sure you support the team and let it be known!
What does that look like?
We are currently organizing events across the country to support bargaining, on the local and regional level. Anything from talking to your family members at the dinner table to showing up for a rally helps the process.
However, we know that should the Employer refuse to negotiate on the topics above, we will be looking to a strike vote.
We hope you’re all ready to support your team on the line – and we have good news!
CEIU Creates a National Strike Fund
Our National Executive has ensured that no CEIU member will struggle should we end up on a picket line – by creating a National Strike Fund.
In addition to the $75/day already provided by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) strike fund, CEIU National will also pay each impacted member an additional $50/day.
Most locals, and some regions of CEIU, also have additional strike funds. Members also have access, as needed, to the PSAC hardship fund. Members are encouraged to speak to their locals and regions for more information.
No CEIU member will be left behind.
So keep up with bargaining by checking out the PSAC webpage at: https://psacunion.ca/pa-group.
Make sure you are a member in good standing by signing your union card and updating your contact information and don’t forget – CEIU has your back and will stand beside you.
A new way to engage
By Ailish Morgan and Ashley Petrin
CEIU’s National Capital Region was the first region to take part in what we have termed an “Engagement Summit”.
The last couple of years has been difficult when it comes to mobilization and outreach to members. New members have been hired and have not had the chance to connect with their union.
To bring new voices and perspectives into the labor movement, the national capital region organized a two-day summit open to all members to build capacity and share what the union does.
During the two-day event, members followed workshops on whom CEIU and the PSAC are, their duty to accommodate, and mental health and staffing. A PA bargaining team member was also on-site to offer a bargaining update to all members.
Many of those in attendance were taking part in their first-ever union event and shared that they hope to become more involved at CEIU!
Watch out for an engagement summit in your region—as we reach out and engage with members across the country.
Coming Soon! CEIU Activist Hub
Local activists are the heart of our union. We want to equip all of you with the tools, resources, and trainings you need to take collective action and organize effectively on the local, regional, and national levels.
That’s why we’re launching an Activist Hub on the CEIU website in the coming months!
Stay tuned for resources you can use in your locals, including our revamped Local Officers’ Handbook, a new Local Activists’ Handbook, a calendar with important dates, digital tools, training resources, and more.
Visit www.ceiu-seic.ca in the coming months to access the Activist Hub.
Have you signed your union card?
It’s as easy as 1-2-3!
- Go to this link: http://psacunion.ca/rand
- Fill in the information and submit the card!
- Watch your e-mail for the next step: you still have to sign the card!
Why is this important?
Since we are currently in bargaining, being able to reach out to members is important and signing the card gives us your contact information! It also allows you to become a “member in good standing” which will give you access to union meetings and allow you to be an active union participant!
Not sure if you’ve filled in your card? That’s okay! Fill one in to ensure we have your information!
What we’ve learned in our first weeks as NURs
By Sean McNeill and D’Arcy Gauthier
Some members, and even stewards, may not see a significant difference between the roles of elected leaders and National Union Representatives (NUR). Both troubleshoot questions and provide guidance on interpreting the collective agreement; both intervene with management on behalf of members to address complaints.
D'Arcy Gauthier - NCR NUR
For D'Arcy Gauthier, despite the adjustment needed for his new position, there are many similarities with his old responsibilities.
"As many other union activists, I’ve always considered my involvement in the union centered on helping members who are not always comfortable using their own voice".
Being a NUR means dealing with grievance administration more intensely and more complexly. As Regional Council members, we engaged a level one grievance in our locals, occasionally in other locals, and often advising stewards across the region on their grievances. But this work was between our responsibilities to administer the union locally and regionally.
As NURs, we don’t serve a political role in the union. We can manage around 20 to 25 active cases at a time and represent all 3 levels of the grievance process, with a focus on levels 2 and 3.
Sometimes, we see an opportunity for informal or “political” resolution in a grievance case. As Regional Council members, we would have quickly intervened with management, locally or regionally or through the National Vice Presidents, to resolve an issue outside a grievance process.
Our role is to refer such inquiries to our regionally elected counterparts while continuing to manage the grievance file until an appropriate withdrawal can be recommended. Through this process, our conversations with management become more routine and administrative, while our discussions with members about the specifics of their grievances and our strategic arguments become more detailed and interesting. We’re learning a lot about the struggles of our members, and the impact mismanagement has on the lives of workers.
"Dealing with grievance administration as a full-time job means working efficiently with local and regional elected leaders to ensure a holistic approach to membership service and engagement".
Sean McNeil - Ontario NUR
2023 CEIU National Convention
By Sue Séguin
The CEIU National Convention will be held at the Hilton Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Quebec, from September 7th to 11th, 2023.
The Convention Call went out to all CEIU Locals and CEIU National Committees in November 2022 from the National Office.
Forming part of the Convention Call is the following:
- Call for Nominations for the positions of National President, National Executive Vice-President (NEVP), and Alternate NEVP
- Eligibility of a nominee, a nominator, and a seconder
- Deadline to receive nominations
- How can I vote?
Important dates to remember:
- January 20th, 2023 (9 p.m. EST)—Deadline to submit Nomination Form for all NVP positions
- January 20th, 2023 (9 p.m. EST)—Deadline to submit Nomination Form for delegate(s) to the 2023 CEIU National Convention
- March 20th-27th, 2023—Election period for all the NVPs elections and the delegates to the 2023 CEIU National Convention elections
- March 31st, 2023 (9 p.m. EST)—Deadline to submit resolutions
- April 12th, 2023 —Elections Results sent out
- Resolutions Committee meetings – looking at a week in April, May or June 2023
- Deadline for observers to apply: July 14th, 2023
- August 7, 2023—Deadline to submit Nominations for CEIU delegates to the 2024 PSAC National Triennial Convention
- August 7th, 2023—Convention agenda, and Resolutions Committee Reports to be sent out to CEIU delegates and observers
- 2023 CEIU National IRCC Conference: February 25th - 26th, 2023, Hotel Halifax - Halifax, N.S.
- CEIU National Women’s Committee Meeting: March 02nd - 03rd, 2023, Laurel Point Inn - Victoria, BC
- CEIU National Women’s Conference: March 04th - 05th, 2023, Laurel Point Inn - Victoria, BC
CALL FOR CONTENT
Would you like to pitch a story or contribute an article or some photos for CEIU's National Newsletter?
Contact us at: [email protected]
DID YOU KNOW?
By Todd Smith
Workers who are federally regulated, including members of CEIU, have three fundamental health and safety rights in the workplace: the right to refuse dangerous work; the right to participate; and, the right to know. These rights are enshrined in the Canada Labour Code.
The right to refuse dangerous work is often an action of last resort or in circumstances where a dangerous situation wasn’t anticipated but is present.
Canada Labour Code defines danger as “any hazard, condition or activity that could reasonably be expected to be an imminent or serious threat to the life or health of a person exposed to it before the hazard or condition can be corrected or the activity altered.”
To exercise this right, an employee would immediately stop the dangerous work and report to their supervisor that they’re refusing dangerous work and why. The work must stop, and the employer must investigate.
There is a process for investigation including procedures to escalate the refusal if local management determines there to be no danger, but the member feels there still is. Further, the employer is prohibited from seeking any retribution for dangerous work refusals. More information: Right to refuse dangerous work - Canada.ca.
- The right to participate allows employees to have input in health and safety matters. This right can be exercised by participating as a member of the health and safety committee, reporting health and safety concerns, and suggesting to the health and safety committee and employer how to make the workplace safer.
- The right to know is employees’ right to be made aware of any known or likely hazards in the workplace and to be given information, training, and the necessary supervision to protect health and safety.
There is a lot more to these rights. You’re invited to read more on the topic by visiting: OH&S Legislation in Canada - Three Rights of Workers: OSH Answers (ccohs.ca).