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7, N 2 Summer 2013

When Gina Martin-Ivie refused to do dangerous work, the employer retaliated.

PSAC took this to court and WON!

Photo : Cezary Gesikowski



A message from the PSAC National President

What happened to the idea of working together?

o much of the work we do relies on a healthy relationship between union and management. And like any relationship, ours needs to be built on trust, respect, and a joint desire to build on what we have in common and work through the things we dont. Its not always easy, and thats why there are so many rules designed to keep the parties on track. Over the past year, the labour movement has been under constant attack because we are one of the very few voices left standing in opposition to what this government is doing to our country and to all Canadians. The latest tactic, it seems, is to simply throw the rule book away. Im talking about what happened at the FB bargaining table, and whats been happening across the board to consultation and information sharing. The FB group hadnt even received a PIC report when the government decided to table a final offer. It arrived at my door in an envelope with a 48 hour deadline for response. There are rules. We have a bargaining team. They were elected to represent the membership and they are the ones who will determine whether or not an offer will become a tentative agreement. Thats how we do things around here. It seems almost every week I get emails from members, Locals or elected officers asking about some new process or measure that is being implemented without consultation. Things like the elimination of paper pay stubs, a new policy on performance management, or moving to a system of pay in arrears. Heres what you get when you dont talk to the union: rumours, anxiety, grievances,

Over the past year, the labour movement has been under constant attack because we are one of the very few voices left standing in opposition to what this government is doing to our country and to all Canadians.

PSAC on the Internet

and eventually a complete breakdown in the meaningful communication between the parties that makes the whole system work. Attacking the union, isolating our members, and ensuring that everyone is kept in the dark only works if we allow ourselves to be marginalized. So I am asking you to take the time to read this issue of Our Union Voice, browse our website, follow our social media feeds, pay attention to your workplace notice boards, and keep talking to each other about the work that we do and the value of your union card. We are all affected by the governments attempts to push us aside, and we must all refuse to be silenced. Its your union. Join the conversation. In Solidarity,

Visit us for the latest news from PSAC and other noteworthy items we share on: Twitter @PSACnat Keep in touch with Robyn Benson on: or on Twitter @BensonRobyn: Contact Chris Aylward, PSAC National VicePresident on Twitter @ChrisAylwardVP: Get the latest insights and opinions from PSAC leaders and join the conversation on Headwinds. Visit

Robyn Benson, National President

PSAC members participated in the cross-Canada regional leadership meetings to build a sense of community within the membership.

Photo: Jeffrey Vallis


Our Union Voice is a quarterly publication of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Representing
Vol. 7, N 2 Summer 2013
180,000 members, PSAC is one of Canadas largest unions and is affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress and internationally to Public Services International and UNI Global Union. Editor: Cezary Gesikowski Editorial Board: Mariam Abou-Dib, Nicholas Galletti, Steve Jelly, Louise Laporte Design, layout and production: Janet Jorgensen Translation: PSAC Language Services ISSN: 1718-8652 Public Service Alliance of Canada, 233 Gilmour Street, Ottawa ON K2P 0P1 613-560-4200 Ce journal est aussi disponible en franais sous le titre Le Rassembleur.

Bargaining updates

PSAC campaigns & wins ................................................................ 3 2013 PSAC National Health & Safety Conference ...................... 4 Regional meetings Lets talk! .................................................... 6 WFA headline to come ................................................................... 7 Members have their say ................................................................ 8 2 I Our Union Voice I Summer 2013


Sign up at to receive the latest email news about collective bargaining and much more.

Photo: Cezary Gesikowski


PSAC wins legal case for member disciplined for raising health and safety concerns
In a resounding victory for the PSAC, The Public Service Labour Relations Board has ruled that Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) violated the Canada Labour Code when it retaliated against an employee for raising health and safety concerns in the workplace.

ina Martin-Ivie exercised her right to refuse dangerous work in 2005, motivated by a concern that CBSA failed to provide Border Services Officers at the Primary Inspection line with timely access to reliable information on known armed and dangerous persons they might encounter in the line of duty. After the hearing into her work refusal CBSA commenced an investigation, allegedly into a security breach. However, the Board ruled that the security breach investigation became a vehicle to retaliate against Martin-Ivie for raising health and safety concerns in the workplace. The Board ruled that regional management tainted the professional standards investigation by linking it to the exercise of Martin-Ivies right to refuse under the Code. The Board noted that in doing so, CBSA representatives demonstrated an anti-union animus. The Board further found that the Senior Investigator with Professional Standards exceeded her mandate when she too linked the investigation to the work refusal. Eventually, Ms Martin-Ivie was subjected to a learning conversation. Again, the Board found that this was a carefully chosen ruse and that this employer action was actually disciplinary in nature.

Win on alternation policy grievance

The PSAC won a significant victory in April 2013 before the Public Service Labour Relations Board on a major issue in the Work Force Adjustment Appendix (WFAA). The Board agreed with PSAC that Treasury Board is ultimately responsible to ensure that departments are not violating the collective agreement. The decision strengthens the obligations of the employer to establish an effective alternation system. On June 15, 2012, the PSAC and PIPSC filed policy grievances against Treasury Board with respect to the failure of many departments to abide by the alternation provisions in the WFAA. The grievance also dealt with the failure on the part of the employer as a whole to establish a system that works across departments. Treasury Board now has to step up to the plate and take responsibility on the failure of alternation, said Robyn Benson, National President of the PSAC. They need to immediately ensure all departments respect the collective agreement. The PSAC is in discussions with the employer to discuss remedies related to the Boards ruling. Visit to find out more about alternation.

Unions win fight for EI benefits for workers affected by cuts

Thanks to interventions by the PSAC and other federal unions, Treasury Board has finally agreed that the Conservative governments job cuts qualify as a workforce reduction program, therefore allowing workers who have been made surplus to be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. Before the unions intervened, departments were issuing Records of Employment to Service Canada that said that these workers had quit and they were then disqualified from getting EI benefits. While individual circumstances will vary, the change means that employees who are made surplus opting under the Workforce Adjustment Agreement and choose one of the options to leave the public service will not automatically be denied access to EI, as they had in the past. The change is retroactive to April 2012. For more information, visit our website:

Understanding Essential Services Agreement (ESA)

An ESA is a written agreement between the Union and the employer that certain work duties are essential to the safety and security of the public and must continue during a strike. ESAs are required by the Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA). Before 2005, the process captured by ESAs was known as designations. Back then, a position containing an essential duty would be designated and the employee had to perform the full range of duties, essential or not. Designations were renegotiated with every round of collective bargaining and assigned to people and positions. The ESAs are about essential services and duties, and while amendments will be possible to the ESA, it will stay in place round after round.

Bargaining Updates
FB Group protests the lack of a contract since 2011
On April 18, 2013, Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) members and Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) members protested the lack of a fair collective agreement since June 2011. In December 2012, the Bargaining Team presented its case before the Public Interest Commission (PIC) and is still awaiting the PIC report and recommendations. As soon as we receive the report, updates will be posted to the FB bargaining page of the PSAC website.

If in doubt, work now and grieve later

The employer is responsible for notifying members who are in essential service positions with the local union in attendance. If your supervisor orders you to perform non-essential duties, write down the date, time, managers name and the duties performed and provide this to your union representative immediately. If your supervisor asks you to perform the duties of an employee who is on strike, decline. However, if you are ordered, follow the steps above and grieve. To find out more about essential services, visit the Essential Services Frequently Asked Questions on our website:

Many other federal bargaining units still awaiting a contract

Other units currently in bargaining are: Technical Services (TC), Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Statistical Survey Operations (SSO), and Canada Post. For bargaining updates, check out the Bargaining section of our website at and sign-up for email updates kqugK

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Photo: Cezary Gesikowski


2013 PSAC National Health & Safety Conference

Mental Health at Work We Are All Affected

The 2013 PSAC National Health and Safety Conference was held April 12 to 14, 2013 in Montral, Qubec. This years theme: Mental Health at Work We Are All Affected continued where the last national health and safety conference left off. Delegates from across Canada met to discuss important issues such as bullying, harassment, mental health in the workplace, and disability management.

Charan Bhullar, UNE delegate from BC asks a question during the conference. Delegates had many opportunities to share their experiences and ask questions of the speakers.

Chris Aylward, PSAC NEVP, spoke of the governments intention to attack the RAND formula. He explained how this new government attack on unions will impact directly the health and safety of our workers across Canada.

n the light of the current Conservative governments massive cuts to public services, the conference was directly tied to the PSACs We Are All Affected campaign. As the government continues along the path of deregulation and contracting out it encourages lower standards and increasing foreign control of Canadians health, safety and security. Deregulation also reduces employment levels and our health and safety rights in the workplace. As a result of these changes we all lose due to lack of enforcement and undermining of public accountability. PSAC is committed to fighting for healthy and safe workplace for our members, and a work environment that is discrimination and harassment free. Quality public services rely on strong regulations to ensure that governments and employers meet their obligation to protect Canadian workers, their communities and their families. The conference provided an opportunity for the participants to help PSAC fight for safe and healthy workplaces, a safe and healthy Canada and better employment conditions for all workers.

Delegates exchanged ideas and recommendations at workshops and focus groups during the conference.

PSAC National President Robyn Benson addressed the conference delegates. Robyn spoke about the importance of mental health in the workplace and how health and safety activists can make a difference.

Stphane Grenier, a retired Lt. Col. with the Canadian Armed Forces, delivered a powerful and memorable speech using the examples of his own personal struggles and the work that we can do to support people with mental health disabilities in the workplace.

Bob Jackson, PSAC BC REVP, chaired the Conference.

Photos: Alain Cossette

Delegates participated in workshops and focus groups to learn more about mental health, disability management, and bullying and harassment. They shared ideas on how we can work together to take action on these issues.

Guest speaker Mary Anne Baynton, a well-known consultant and expert on workplace mental health, talked about the new National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

For further information on the PSAC Health & Safety conference and other important issues go to For more information on PSAC negotiated benefits including sick leave and disability insurance visit

Delegates participated in the conference plenary sessions.

Delegates voted for a number of resolutions calling for measures to address mental health in the workplace.

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Building the union one member at a time lets talk!

As a union, we spend a lot of time bargaining, working to make sure our members have jobs in spite of government cuts to services, dealing with and preventing health and safety problems, representing our members against unjust discipline, fighting for pay equity and promoting human rights. And thats not all.



e are now undertaking an unprecedented memberto-member campaign. We want to hear from every member so that together we can make our union better.

Were going to listen to our members concerns about whats happening in the workplace and learn about the things they care about. In April and May our union brought together local leaders all across the country to help kick-start the one-to-one conversations with members in our locals. We are distributing pledge cards so we have your contact info up to date and can stay in touch on important issues. Were working together to build a sense of community within the memberhip and make PSAC a stronger and more dynamic force for positive change in the workplace and in our communities. Our aim is to make these conversations a regular part of our union activity. Havent been part of the conversation yet? Contact your Local or your PSAC regional or Component office.



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Workforce Adjustment:

Hard won job security provisions are helping our members

Since April 2012, more than 21,600 PSAC members have been handed affected notices telling them they could lose their jobs. Thanks to strong job security provisions in the Workforce Adjustment appendix of collective agreements, a vast majority of those affected have been offered jobs or have been able to use transitional support measures to leave. How WFA is working
It has been difficult to get detailed numbers from different departments and agencies, but figures released by Treasury Board for the core public service for the period between April 2012 just after the 2012 federal budget was tabled and April 2013, shows how the WFA is helping workers.

Improvements are still needed

Despite these successes, we have a lot of work to do to ensure the employer is upholding its obligations under the WFA appendix so that it works as well as it can. For example, between August and November this year, we know that about 550 workers who chose to stay on priority status could move to unpaid layoff priority status: that will depend on whether they are able to find a job before their 12-month surplus period runs out. A big part of the problem has been the employers refusal to set up a workable system for facilitating alternation. It hasnt been easy for opting members who want to stay to find and move into positions in other departments currently occupied by similarly qualified unaffected members who would like to take advantage of transitional support to leave. PSAC filed a grievance in June 2012, at a time when there were widespread reports of departmental refusals to even consider alternation. At the time, very few alternations had taken place. Thanks to the collective agreement, constant pressure from the PSAC and the filing of our grievance, the situation has improved. To date, Treasury Board reports that more than 1,400 alternations have taken place, of which almost half were inter-departmental. The PSAC has also worked to ensure that laid off workers arent being disqualified from collecting Employment Insurance benefits. Before the union intervened, many members who were affected and opted to leave were reporting that the employer had indicated on their Record of Employment that they were quitting rather than being laid-off and voluntarily leaving because of the cuts. Treasury Board has now instructed departments to ensure that no longer happens.

number of people employed in their section had decreased, and 67 per cent said that workloads had increased.

WFA cant stop how cuts hurt services and the economy
These cuts arent just hurting our members: they are hurting the economy and the public too. For Canadians the cost of these cuts has been on services, such as the loss of search and rescue for those who live and work along our coasts, the threat to safe food, protection of our environment and the dwindling support for veterans and the unemployed. Our members know that the services theyve been providing are important, and they are worried about what it means when those are cut or lost completely. Even if the WFA has meant that most of those members who received affected notices have found work or left with the help they needed, thousands of meaningful and secure jobs have been taken out of the economies of towns and cities across the country. PSAC is doing all it can to stop the cuts and help our members through these difficult times. Stay informed by visiting us on our web page or on Facebook.

During that period, 30,000 federal government workers in the core public service (the majority of which are PSAC members) were handed affected notices. As of April 2013 just under 20,000 of those workers had been offered new jobs. Another 5,782 had chosen to leave the federal government with the help of transitional support measures, and, in many cases, used the educational allowance of up to $10,000 to help upgrade their skills. 3,450 remain in affected status, many of whom are awaiting the results of departments SERLO (selection for layoff or retention) processes. Given current trends, it is likely that a majority of those will either receive job offers or choose to leave the federal government with the help of transitional support measures. Just 1,082 out of the 30,000 had opted to stay on with priority status, hoping to qualify for another job within a year.

The strike that won job security for our members

It wasnt until after tens of thousands of PSAC members went on strike in 1991 that the employer agreed to negotiate the job security provisions that laid the groundwork for the protections we have in todays collective agreements. The Strike of 91 lasted 25 days until members were legislated back to work. Besides forcing the employer to take concerns about job security seriously and restricting wage controls, the strike also won public support for our members.
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Workplace stress and workloads still on the rise

WFA may be helping affected members, but the reality is that receiving an affected letter and being forced to make difficult choices about the future is very stressful. So is watching colleagues go through it, and wondering who might be cut next. Increased workloads for those left behind have also been causing stress. In a recent poll of our members, more than half or respondents said that in the last two years the

The outlook appears the same for affected members at separate agencies such as Parks, the Canada Revenue Agency and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.
The back page is a detachable poster.

Members have their say about union and bargaining priorities


7 6 5 4 3 2 1

68 15% 10% 3

7 6 5 4 3 2 1

65% 17% 10% 3% 2% 1% 1%

10 20 30

2% 1% 1

Good pension benets

40 50 60 70 80

Job Security
20 30 40 50 60 70 80


7 6


42% 21% 24% 8% 3% 2% 1%


*Scale is from 1 to 7 with 1 not important to 7 being extremely important.

5 4

Earlier this year, PSAC hired Environics Research Ltd. to call a random sample of about 1,800 members asking them for their opinions on a wide range of topics.
When asked about PSACs priorities, heres what they said.

3 2 1

Getting better wages, allowances & premiums

10 20 30 40 50

Collective bargaining for better salaries and working conditions: 79% top priority 18% medium priority 2% low priority Working to preserve and improve programs that benet all Canadians like pensions, EI and public health care: 77% top priority 20% medium priority 3% low priority Pushing for labour and health and safety laws that would better protect all Canadian workers, unionized or not: 62% top priority 32% medium priority 6% low priority


7 6 5 4 3 2 1

32% 19% 25% 12% 7% 3% 3%

5 10 15

Sign up for PSAC e-news at to nd out about future opportunities for members to express their opinions and priorities for our union.


7 6 5 4 3 2 1

29% 17% 26% 15% 7% 4% 3%

5 10

Improved health & safety

15 20 25 30

8 I Our Union Voice I Summer 2013

Tear out this page and post on your union bulletin board

The poll results showed that the top three bargaining priorities are job security, good pension benets, and better wages, allowances and premiums. Members also identied getting better extended health and dental benets and better leave provisions, as well as improving health and safety as additional priorities.

Getting better extended health & dental benets

20 25 30 35