Happy New Year! This is our first update for the year and we wanted to share with you some of the successes and challenges that 2018 brought us and what we can look forward to in 2019. In March 2018 our local went to the polls and elected a new executive council. Building upon the successes of the previous executive, the new team immediately went to work and were able to achieve tangible results;
1.Communication – we reviewed our communication structure and revamped it to ensure that we were communicating with you consistently and in a timely manner. You’ve received frequent updates about bargaining, union education including duty to accommodate, performance management and unauthorized access. Many of you have shared with us how connected you feel because of the updates that you receive from us. We are increasing our reach by coming to you on social media and on the internet. We’re launching our website today which will allow you to book an appointment to see a representative, live chat with us and share common issues in a secure membership area. Later in 2019, we will launch our Union Emergency System which would allow us to communicate with you by text message in the event of an emergency, like the tragic incident that occurred in April 2018. This tool will work instantly, allowing us to have an idea of our members that aren’t accounted for so that help can be dispatched, where necessary, to assist them. We are utilizing every tool available to communicate with you more effectively.
2.Accountability – we have raised the bar nationally as the first local to implement a survey tool that seeks to improve union-member interactions. We launched the Union Feedback Survey. This tool streamlines the way feedback is provided to the union and it helps us to recognize great work and provide coaching, where necessary, to our representatives. Members receive an email after a representative has handled their case asking for feedback. Thank you for your participation in this.
3. Social Commitments – we have participated in workplace activities such as the CRA charitable campaign, sponsoring the golf tournament. We partnered with Revenue Collections Social Committee and the YPN to host the picnic in the park. We also held our very own membership appreciation dinner, which was well-received by our membership. We presented the first ever Volunteer Award to longstanding member Yvonne Booth. We simply cannot execute our mandate without our members stepping up and volunteering. We recognize and appreciate the efforts of those that volunteer.
4.Relationship with AFS Group – we share the same office space with another union the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada commonly referred to as PIPSC. We share a renewed sense of working together locally for the common good of our members. Recognizing and respecting that we are a separate union and would hold separate positions on issues, we’ve forged ahead together on common issues which have strengthened our strategic position in the office.5.Relationship with Management – we have achieved success at the Toronto North TSO in resolving matters at the lowest level without the need for filing grievances. This has strengthened our relationship with management to get matters resolved. Whilst we do not agree on many things, we are able to sit and discuss issues with respect and mutual understanding. We are starting 2019 with our signature to the Union management Philosophy. It is a pledge that was signed nationally and regionally, and with the employer now locally. This is a renewed effort in working with the employer.
6.Workplace Issues – Duty to Accommodate remains a top priority for our local. At Toronto North we’ve had a high rate of successful accommodation requests, that the union is involved in. We’ve had many challenges with accommodation at the Business Enquiries Call Center, however we have raised these issues with management and all our members at BECC have now been accommodated or will be shortly. We have identified some common issues with the process including the wording on the forms and providing meaningful alternative duties. Management is listening and addressing our concerns. We will continue to work with management at BECC to ensure that all accommodation requests are handled fairly and in a timely manner. We’ve raised concerns with the spacing in the washrooms at Toronto North under Health and Safety. Management has approved astragal strips in all washrooms which will seal the spacing gap allowing members to use the washroom with complete privacy.
7.Positions and Vacancies in the Union – We have filled all positions required by our by-laws, that is a president, two vice presidents, treasurer, secretary, and 5 directors. We are working to increase our Steward capacity, so if you’re interested in getting involved- now is the time. A Chief Steward will be appointed to manage our Stewards. We will be creating three new positions; a Communications Officer who will handle all social media, online and email communications, an Accommodations Officer and an Alternative Accommodations Officer who will handle all accommodation cases. This will ensure that all cases are streamlined and handled with the same level of training, knowledge, and priority.
8.Campaigns and Lobbying- we’re currently at the bargaining table with the employer with little progress. We’ve made progressive and significant demands for our membership; including 3-year conversion for term members and better working conditions for call-center members. We’ve mobilized nationally with the "My Contract My Voice" campaign sending a strong message to the employer that the membership is supporting our demands. The Phoenix payroll system has been a disaster; from the wrong union dues being deducted to leave and promotions being affected – it has been an absolute failure! That’s when we launched the Cas Can Do It campaign nationally. Our local collected hundreds of signed cards that were part of a national effort which resulted in almost 15,000 cards being delivered to the Prime Minister’s Office. We also lobbied members of parliament across Ontario to fix the Phoenix mess, compensate ALL public service workers and to set up an inquiry to ensure Phoenix never happens again. We also lobbied for respect at the bargaining table. Respect that our Prime Minister promised when his government came into power.
9. Vision 2021 – we’re looking ahead at better ways to serve you. This includes having a clear vision for the local and where we want to be. We have laid a vision document in council that will be shared in the coming year with you. Part of our 3-year objective is to have online elections. This is very important as every election we’re at the employer’s mercy to use their space to conduct voting. Sometimes they allow us to use the lunch rooms, sometimes we’re in the lobby and sometimes we’re in the basement. The position changes election to election and we simply cannot continue this way. On the other hand, we have members who do not work at the office or are on various types of leaves. Physically voting presents a barrier to them that online voting would remove. We have asked our national office to review our request to ensure that it complies with all by-laws and the PSAC’s constitution.
10. Training – we’ve made training a priority for our local, ensuring that our representatives are properly trained to assist you.
As we move into 2019, we face many challenges ahead however we will continue to defend your rights and ensure that our workplace is productive for everyone. Remember you too have an obligation, to do the work that you were hired to do, to work well with your colleagues and to contribute to the social makeup of the workplace while observing and adhering to the code of conduct. We want to take this opportunity to remind you of an issue that still requires a lot of attention. Unauthorized access remains a challenge for our local, please be reminded that you must only access accounts that are in your workload, and if you’re unsure ask your team leader for assistance. One case of unauthorized access is one too many. Also be mindful that assisting a friend or relative to complete a tax return could be considered as preferential treatment. Avoid these situations.
In 2018 we've made real progress together. But there is still so much more to do. That’s why we're calling on you to continue to support us with mobilization efforts and to get involved. Our next event is our Annual General Meeting in April and we hope to see all of you there!
Thank you and Happy New Year!