CONTRIBUTION · 25th March 2015
Unifor Local 2300
March 24, 2015
ABUSE OF POWER, ABUSE OF PROCESS AND BAD FAITH BARGAINING, THE REALITIES OF NEGOTIATING WITH THE DISTRICT OF KITIMAT
Since our Union made a presentation to Council on March 2, 2015 we have learned a number of disturbing things about Councilís and Administrationís behaviour.
When we provided the District with an Offer to Settle accompanied with 72 hour strike notice, Council let us walk off of the job without even looking at our Offer to Settle.
It is unclear at this point if the Municipal Manager purposely withheld this information from Council or if Council were deliberately negligent in their duties.
At this point what could have been more important than staying at the bargaining table and avoiding a Labour dispute?
The magnitude of Council being unaware of the content of our Offer to Settle before the expiry of the 72 hour strike notice is unfathomable and is a direct violation of their responsibility as local Government.
It is a catastrophic failure of due diligence on the part of Mayor and Council at the expense of over 100 familiesí ability to put food on their tables. Not to mention a community having to suffer while what seems to be Mayor and Councilís strategy to avoid the issues and try and starve out our members.
Seeing how Mayor, Council and the Municipal Manager would not respond to our Unionís many invitations to continue bargaining and fix this rotten workplace and after chasing down individual Councillors at their houses and places of business, on Sunday March 8, 2015 we were able to get the Mayor to come to our Union hall for a frank discussion on what has transpired, fixing the serious workplace issues and getting our members back to work.
We talked for over two hours and at the end of our meeting he was going to address Council and respond to our request of having just him or the entire Council at the bargaining table.
The Mayorís response was that he was unable to get Council to agree to a special meeting where they would make the decision as to whether they would have their presence at the bargaining table or not.
Again Council demonstrates their lack of respect for our members and their lack of desire to resolve this conflict by ignoring us.
We then requested a meeting with the Mayor and the Municipal Manager. After getting the runaround again, we contacted the Municipal Manager directly to request a meeting.
We managed to convince them to come back to the bargaining table on Friday March 13, 2015, Saturday March 14, 2015 and Monday March 16, 2015. We were able to bring a couple of items closer to agreement, but the same old response and behaviour became evident when our seniority issues surfaced.
These Management responses seem to have a pattern. The Municipal Manager blames Council for their lack of ability to resolve the issues and the deputy CAO says although we principally agree with the Union we refuse to put it in writing. The Mayor says you have to trust us and we will fix everything after everyone is back to work.
Of course this management philosophy is ridiculous and is what has led to this labour dispute in the first place.
According to the Municipal Manager, the Districtís big play hinged on the Monday March 16, 2015 Council meeting where they would be discussing bargaining after the regular Council meeting in-camera and they wanted to know if we were going to set up a picket line. They suggested that it may not be wise for us to picket the Council meeting as some of our allies may not cross the picket line. The Municipal Manager committed to contacting us the first thing in the morning after they met.
Even though the Labour Relations Board of British Columbia determined we are in a legal position to picket Council meetings we chose to attend the meeting as spectators in an effort to allow Mayor, Council and Administration to come up with a possible new bargaining mandate that would rid our workplace of the poisonous abusive legacy that plagues it.
After a couple of days the Municipal Manager contacted us and stated that Council gave him permission to make some minor changes to their mandate, so we continued to meet over the next few days.
We pressed them hard and after several heated battles we were able to get them to tentatively agree to some of our Health & Safety, Training and Seniority language.
Itís ridiculous that it took a strike to get the District to engage in discussing these three items.
This recent accomplishment moves us in the right direction, but we are still very far apart on the rest of our issues.
The reason we say this is because the District refused to discuss any of our other demands and as of Saturday March 21, 2015 they walked away from the bargaining table again.
We maintain that we are willing to resolve our issues amicably through meaningful dialog, but make no mistake we are in a WAR and we will do everything within the context of the law to fix this broken workplace.
It appears that Mayor, Council and the District Managers are using our members as part of a cost savings scheme for their almighty budget and for that they should be ashamed and resign immediately.
Unifor Local 2300
Comment by Public perception on 26th March 2015
If this is "war" why are the municipal workers playing bocce ball everytime I drive by the picket line at Tamatik?? Is this really the image they want to convey to us that it's all fun and games? I realize it's very boring standing there day in and out but public perception goes a long way and for the average citizen driving by who's not well versed in the situation.....it just looks like summer camp down at the arena instead of people with kids, mortgages, car payments, etc fighting tooth and nail for a fair contract. If you want to keep us fellow citizens on your side....keep smiling and waving and informing passerbys of the current situation, instead of showing people driving by what your backside looks like while playing bocce ball.
Comment by Nobody on 26th March 2015
I think the use of the word WAR is a little much. War is over seas in the middle east where our Canadian troops are and don't forget about ww1 and ww2 where men and woman lost their lives and serve today, that is war. To compare contract talks with with the battles of the past and present is disrespectful to those that have served in the military. Just my thoughts anyways
Comment by Poole's Mobile on 25th March 2015
Lan, the real question is, is it true?
If the language sounds over the "top" is one thing, the only way to know is to get to the "bottom" of the issues in the workplace.
If there is a sickness or problem with the root, then the tree will be sick and the quality of it's produce will reflect that. Things have been rotten at the District for decades, you might just be hearing about it now.
It's often said "if you don't like it, just quit!"
The choice to run from reality and responsibility is not something that dedicated public servants who love their community would ever contemplate. The workers could run, but clearly they choose to fight for what is right.
That is a choice serious, sober and humble people make. The Union members have chosen to remain and face the challenges rather than run from their duty and obligation. The sacrifices they have made over the years, the sacrifices they are making now, and the sacrifices they will make until this dispute is resolved are not only in their self-interest but shall benefit the community as a whole.
I encourage the public to go down to the line or visit the Union hall and speak with them, and you will see that the issues are in the common interest and the fight is OURS as a community.
The Union has my full support and I commend them for exhibiting the courage, the leadership and the character to stand up for their community.
You make us proud, and we draw strength from your sacrifice.
Thanks a million!
P.S. Phil you got the community's vote because Mobile is synonymous with change, but by aligning your self so closely with Mr.Terrace, you've now become Poole's Immobile, representing the status-quo. Wake up!
Comment by joe on 25th March 2015
Soon council will have met their budget tax increase of 3 % on the savings on wages and it will be time to settle the contract
Comment by Lan on 25th March 2015
Isn't the language a little over the top (a poisonous abusive legacy that plaques us.) If they are so bad you can always quit.