PSAC subgroup urges members to vote against tentative deal, push new talks – National
A subgroup of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) is urging its nearly 36,000 members to vote “no” on the tentative deal reached with the government earlier this week, raising questions about the future of that deal.
The Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU) says the deal that brought an end to a 12-day-long strike by the larger PSAC union impacting 120,000 members does not adequately meet the wage and remote work demands of those in CEIU.
A message on the union’s website said its national executive team voted unanimously to run a “vote no” campaign against ratifying the tentative agreement “following a lengthy discussion.”
“Our leadership has heard a clear message from an overwhelming number of grassroots members that they do not want our union to accept this agreement,” the open letter says.
The CEIU says its membership is large enough that the deal may not be ratified if enough members vote no. Ratification requires yes votes from more than 50 per cent of all members across the various components.
The union could then hold another strike vote if renewed negotiations don’t yield a better agreement.
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The tentative agreements with the major PSAC components were announced early Monday after the Treasury Board, which oversees the administration of the federal government, tabled what it described as a “final offer” on Friday.
Although the full text of the tentative agreement has not been released, both PSAC and the Treasury Board say it includes a total compounded wage increase of 12.6 per cent over four years, with an additional 0.5 per cent group-specific allowance in the third year of the contracts.
Workers will also be receiving a one-time, pensionable $2,500 lump-sum payment that represents an additional 3.7 per cent of salary for the average union member in Treasury Board bargaining units.
Although PSAC had been pushing for remote work to become an enshrined right for members, the tentative agreements instead include a letter of understanding outside the collective agreement.
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The letter promises a joint review of the government’s directive on telework, and the union said the letter will mean managers have to assess telework requests individually instead of the government applying a one-size-fits-all approach.
The CEIU says the tentative agreement “does not go far enough to support the most at-risk, marginalized employees.” A majority of the union’s members are women, many of whom are racialized and work second and third jobs to make ends meet, it noted in the open letter. That makes remote work guarantees crucial for members, it said.
The national executive argues the four-year deal will lead to smaller wage increases than what would exist under a three-year deal, “putting our members even further behind on inflation.”
The union is also taking issue with the $2,500 payment, which is taxable, whereas leadership and members were led to believe the payment would be a non-taxable signing bonus.
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“The members of the CEIU (national executive) believe that voting down this agreement will result in applying necessary additional pressure for this government to table more money and be more willing to negotiate other gains – including a better deal on remote work language,” it said.
A spokesperson for the CEIU declined to comment further on the “vote no” campaign, and no members of the national executive were available for an interview. The Treasury Board declined to comment given the upcoming ratification votes.
CRA strike: Feds ‘continue to play games at the negotiating table,’ PSAC president says
PSAC national president Chris Aylward told Global News in a statement the four bargaining teams that reached the tentative agreements with the Treasury Board are recommending members vote to ratify the deal. Those votes are expected to be held in the coming weeks.
“It’s a democratic process and members have the right to vote on their respective agreements,” Aylward said. “They will either vote to accept it or vote to reject it, but it’s in the members’ hands.”
The 12-day strike saw more than 155,000 federal workers walk off the job. Treasury Board President Mona Fortier repeatedly stressed the need for both sides to find compromises in reaching a deal.
The tentative agreements did not include 35,000 Canada Revenue Agency employees who remain on strike, and negotiations are continuing to reach a deal with the Union of Taxation Employees, a separate sub-group of PSAC.
On Wednesday, Aylward said the deal that is currently on the table for CRA employees is less generous than what the federal government offered the other PSAC components, including the CEIU.
He said striking members plan to show up at the Liberal Party of Canada’s convention Thursday if their employer doesn’t table a “fair offer” before then.
— with files from the Canadian Press
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