REPORTING · 1st April 2015
UNIFOR Local 2300
This is Unifor Local 2300’s response to the District’s so called facts. Our responses are in bold and titled "Truth" to show where correction is needed.
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District of Kitimat
Collective Bargaining involves a Union and an Employer meeting to negotiate issues of concern. The District of Kitimat has negotiated - it has listened to the Union and agreed to many of the Union's demands.
Truth: The District met with us and listened to our concerns, but in no way, shape or form did the District negotiate with us. The majority of the District’s responses were “it’s working for us”.
The District has been clear since the start of negotiations that some items are too costly or unacceptably restrict the right of management to make workforce decisions.
Truth: Actually the District started negotiations with the statement that “obviously we can’t pretend we’re broke”. Our members want to continue the historical wage relationship with RTA. We don’t believe that we have put items forward that would restrict Management’s rights; we believe that we have put items forward that protect our community from the steady erosion of services.
Fact: The District retracted all its original demands; the Union made 90+ demands.
Truth: The District still has a number of demands on the table. The 90+ demands that our Union put forward are directly correlated to the poisonous work environment caused by the District.
Fact: Before providing the Union with a Final Offer, the District met with the Union more than twenty times. The District was the only parry agreeing to demands in order to conclude a Collective Agreement and avoid a strike.
Truth: We did meet over twenty times with the District, but those meeting were short and mostly unproductive because the District refused to engage in discussions that would bring a resolve to the issues. On Wednesday February 25, 2015 our Union provided the District with an Offer to Settle accompanied with 72 hour strike notice and stated that we wish to continue bargaining and avoid withdrawing our services. It is important to note that we have been without a contract since Jan1, 2015. The District’s idea of avoiding a strike was to provide our Union with a Final Offer on February 26, 2015 in which there was no change from the previous offer except the date and title. On Friday February 27, 2015 we met the District again and responded that there offer does nothing to resolve problems in the workplace and we requested that Mayor and Council come to the bargaining table and we’ll work through the night and day to avoid a labour dispute. Not only did the District not take us up on this offer, they began an individual email campaign to try and turn our members against their Union. When this dirty trick failed the District let our members walk off of their jobs.
Fact: Despite having received a Final Offer which would have avoided a strike, and make District employees one of the highest pai 1 municipal workforces in the province, the Union chose to go on strike.
Truth: We wish to maintain our historical relationship of relative parity with RTA. We wish to finally cement that relationship in our Collective Agreement, no different than our Kitimat Firefighter's Collective Agreement. The reason for this is so that in the future we no longer have to bargain wages. Wages are only one component of this labour dispute.
Fact: In an effort to end the strike, the District returned to the bargaining table and agreed to additional demands, including: changii ig seniority language on selection; health and safety, and training. As well, the District has agreed to provide opportunities for part-tin e workers to increase their hours. In return, the Union withdrew nothing from the table - it says all remaining demands are crucial.
Truth: Our Union relentlessly pursued Mayor and Council to return to the bargaining table. Through this pursuit Mayor and Council refused to hold a special meeting where a decision could be made to meet with our Union. We then switched gears and relentlessly pursued the Municipal Manager and persuaded him to come back to the bargaining table. Through very heated battles we were able to get the District to agree to three of our items. Yes after three weeks on strike we had to battle our employer for safety language. Yes after three weeks on strike we had to battle our employer for training language. Yes after three weeks on strike we had to battle our employer to recognize seniority. We have withdrawn a significant amount of demands, but there are certain issues that must be worked out. It is very difficult to work together from the position of NO!
Fact: The District has negotiated in good faith. The Union has remained steadfast in its stance that all Union's demands must be accommodated.
Truth: The District’s idea of good faith bargaining resembles the principals of imperialism. We have maintained from the start of negotiations that our demands represent issues that exist in the workplace that were caused by the District’s neglect. We wish to work together to resolve these issues. The District’s idea of working together was to ignore the issues and try and paint a picture that we are greedy little pigs who just want more. This tactic will not work because the truth will set us free.
The District of Kitimat has made significant concessions to conclude a Collective Agreement and end this strike. Nothing has persuaded the Union to settle. The District cannot agree to more Union demands without severely compromising its ability to mana *e or without extreme budget implications. The District has responsibilities to all who pay taxes and rely on the District to make fiscal y responsible decisions.
Truth: Our Union did not ask for the District to make any concessions, unless the District considers Safety, Training and recognizing Seniority a concession. Nothing in our demands severely compromises the District’s ability to manage; in fact we have taken on the responsibility to ensure public services are maintained. The District has recklessly advertised that our Union’s demands would cost the tax payers a 12% increase, but after several requests for a breakdown of the numbers to prove this, the District still hasn’t shown us anything.
Our members and our community deserve some answers:
Why did the Municipal Manager withhold our Union’s February 25, 2015 Offer to Settle from Mayor and Council until March 16, 2015?
For 19 days Mayor and Council hadn’t even seen our Offer to Settle.
Mayor and Council have stated that they were the ones giving the direction for bargaining.
How can Mayor and Council give direction for bargaining if the Municipal Manager is withholding important information from them?
Why did our members have to go on strike 19 days before the Mayor and Council even looked at our Offer to Settle?
This is the highest form of Abuse of Process, Abuse of Power and Bad Faith Bargaining, at the expense of over 100 families.
This must be investigated and dealt with!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Unifor Local 2300
Comment by Rob on 3rd April 2015
It looks like the District Negotiating team has lost control of their mandate. By not addressing issues that have been on their radar for many months, well before the negotiations began. The “District of Kitimat negotiating team” has had harassment & unacceptable behavior filed against one of their members. The very thing that is at the center of the negotiations that by the way have no “monetary costs”, conduct that ended up having the union filing a complaint.
This filed complaint ended up at the highest level of the district, and without the union persistence due to a lack of procedures would have ended up with a bad outcome; adding more poison to the work place.
Let’s look at the District’s position, so on the March 30th press release “The District of Kitimat has negotiated – it has listened to the Union and agreed to many of the Union’s demands” for me “many” is construed as a large number of the whole! But the district says “the Union made 90+ demands.” So for me reading this the district portrayal I would think sixty or better, but in fact the number is much less the running tally is 30 plus. The districts position is over fifty are about money I would have a hard time believing that point!
Get your house in order district, yes they are not disputing “District of Kitimat employees remain amongst the best compensated workers in British Columbia” money only has taken you this far! Now there is not enough money to buy the respect needed for a work force to function; that why the strike came about!! So work with the union to put some good cost free language in place to build a respectful work place.
Quotes taken from press releases from District