I hope everyone has had an opportunity to rest and recharge after Roll Closure! This is the first in what promises to be many updates to you as we move forward through the bargaining process.

Your team includes myself, Ron Arnett (Kamloops), David Robertson (Cranbrook) and Keith Hampe (Prince George) while the employer’s team is comprised of six people and a recording secretary.

Our team attended a conference on the current economic climate and labour issues in Vancouver, piggybacking on an Executive meeting in order to reduce costs. More recently we met to exchange initial bargaining positions with the employer’s team on December 13th and then actively began bargaining on December 19th through 21st.

During the early stages of bargaining we are unable to share the specifics of what is being discussed since that undermines our position and signals to the employer what specific issues are most important. Needless to say the mandate is the binder of resolutions which were passed by the delegates to our AGM in September and are weighted and bolstered by your responses to our bargaining survey conducted earlier in the year.

There is no surprise to anyone that wages and benefits are very high on the list. There are only so many years of losing disposable income to the rising cost of living before we collectively say enough is enough. You ask about the mandate of the Liberal government and its impact on bargaining; that they expect us to find ‘efficiencies’ to buy wage increases. We do not accept this artificial constraint to free bargaining.

Overtime: Your Time is Worth It 
One way to be rewarded for hard work during a period of heavy work volume is to request overtime. The Union no longer accepts the past practice of expecting employees to defer flexes or work time for time for extra hours. If you respect yourself as a professional, then you will agree. Here is my response to a coworker who asked about this issue recently:

It's just in the last few months that the ability to approve overtime has been granted to local managers instead of having to be approved by Vice Presidents.

You are only knocking yourself out when you defer flex days and work time for time. If the work is that important, the employer has ALWAYS had the ability to pay overtime and in fact every year they actually complain that they couldn't spend their full allotment towards salary and benefits.

If people defer a flex day, you are giving away double-time since that flex day is a day of rest. Same goes for any time on a weekend.

Even little things like starting half an hour early, missing coffee breaks and staying a little late... these are all overtime hours that the employer should be paying for, not because we are money-grubbing and lazy, but because we are working hard to keep up and this is the ACTUAL COST OF DOING BUSINESS.

Many employees have done this, but no more... we have done this because we are professionals and are proud of our work. Now it's time that we expect the employer to have the same pride in our work and approve appropriate overtime to ensure the job is done well.

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