We’ve just finished wrapping up bargaining in Richmond... no, not for good, just this session.  As we headed towards the long weekend it was only a two day bargaining session this time and we will be comparing calendars for the summer months to see if there is another window of opportunity for continued talks.

With that comment it’s safe to say that talks have not completely broken down, but we are somewhat unhappy with the lack of co-operation involved in this “co-operative mandate” of bargaining. There has been no hint of a realistic wage offer from the employer and any suggestion we make seems to fall on deaf ears.

We shared with their team excerpts from the debate of the legislative assembly on May 8, 2012 where Kevin Falcon is quoted at length about both parties operating in full cooperation to find a resolution to bargaining.  Specifically he noted “...we want to be working together to try to find those opportunities for savings.  That’s exactly what they’re doing at the bargaining tables.”  Um... that’s what the Union is doing... but it takes two to tango and the employer isn’t even on the dance floor with us.  Here are some of our latest monetary suggestions:

• Sharing the schedule for workstation replacements and cancelling or deferring them (we understand Terrace already voluntarily postponed theirs)

• Sharing the schedule and costs of hardware replacements

• The position of Manager of Business Systems has been vacant since November 2011 with reportedly no-one doing that work in the meantime, so declare the position redundant

• With the ability of the new field data collection device to take photos and immediately attach them to the correct folio, cancel the StreetFront Photo contracting out of our work

• Data Element Reduction for housing – severely limit the amount of data that we need to collect and maintain.  Very few bits of data drives the vast majority of housing value.

Other areas that we’ve continued to explore are lateral transfers and flexible hours of work.  With regards to the latter we continue to press the fact that through our bargaining survey, engagement survey and e-watercooler discussions the employees throughout the company would like to have the option of a four day work week.  There is no reason that it shouldn’t happen except for political will.  The same amount of hours will be worked and in exchange for a much happier team of employees.

We haven’t reached the stage of calling for a strike vote yet, but we do see other work group poised to take job action.  We have nine offices throughout the province which are co-tenanted with other union groups such as BCGEU and our coworkers may be impacted by rotating or full-on job action by them.

We are working through the labour side to identify where potential job action might occur so as to provide timely warning to our employees and explore alternative work options with our employer.  Stay tuned!

Needless to say we do not cross picket lines.  Even if you hear that there may be one up around your building you are obligated to show up (ie attempt to report to work) otherwise you may be disciplined for simply staying home.

When you get to work and find a picket line our Collective Agreement gives you the right not to cross it and you will not be disciplined.  As noted earlier we are actively finding ways to avoid unnecessary loss of pay while maintaining the integrity of the job action as well as support for our sisters and brothers in other work groups who are also trying to achieve a fairly bargaining agreement.

To that end you may wish to join them on their picket line, or bring them coffee and donuts.  Believe me...they will be behind you 100% when it’s your turn!  Joining them on your lunch break or coffee breaks is also a great sign of solidarity that will not go un-noticed.  Ultimately I hope that we do not have to take the same action, but that would require the simple recognition that we cannot continue to fall further and further behind the cost of living.  It’s time we are all paid what we are worth!

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