PUBLIC SECTOR BARGAINING UPDATE 1
TO: All Public Sector NAPE Members
FR: NAPE President Jerry Earle / Trevor King, Secretary-Treasurer
Dear NAPE Member of the public sector, we are writing to you today to provide our first update on the upcoming round of public sector bargaining.
Before we move on to bargaining, we want to send a special note of thanks to you for all you have done in the past two years to help guide our province and its people through the pandemic. No matter the challenge, you were there to provide expertise, support, care, compassion, empathy, and understanding.
We are committing to being as candid and forthright with members as possible given the sensitive nature of negotiations.
One thing we want to be clear on – these are your negotiations – they belong to the members of NAPE.
This communication comes to you as part of a series you will receive in the weeks and months ahead.
WHERE WE ARE
Beginning March 31 of this year, contracts affecting more than 17,000 members who work directly for the government or government-related services are set to expire (for the vast majority):
CNA Faculty (August 31)
CNA Support Staff
Group Homes (June 30)
Hospital Support Staff
Ushers (August 31)
WorkplaceNL (May 31)
NOTE: If/when your agreement expires, it is still in place. You are still protected by all the provisions of the agreement while we are in bargaining and until a new agreement is reached or job action takes place.
Component conventions were held and bargaining teams were selected. Component conventions are where bargaining teams are elected, resolutions are discussed, debated and voted on, and the strategy and goals of the component are laid out for the coming years. It is the component that democratically determines the issues and priorities that will be brought forward at the bargaining table.
In addition, delegates at these conventions elected your Bargaining Teams. The Teams negotiate with the employer on the members’ behalf.
Bargaining Teams are comprised of rank and file members and are assigned a full-time Staff representative. Together, they will be tasked with negotiating their respective Component’s contract.
In the near future, your respective Bargaining Teams will meet with the Employer’s Teams. No bargaining dates have been set at the time of writing this letter.
Like our Bargaining Teams, the Employers’ teams will bring forward issues that they believe should be changed within contracts. The process of negotiating will go on until both parties can agree on the terms of a new contract. This is referred to as a tentative agreement. It is tentative until members in each Component vote on the proposed contract.
If bargaining reaches an impasse – where both sides can’t reach a tentative agreement at the bargaining table – a conciliator is normally brought in to help both sides reach an agreement.
At the end of the bargaining process, the ability to accept or reject a contract is decided by you, the members of NAPE, via secret ballot voting. Every member has the right to vote on the agreement.
Your Bargaining Team’s main goal is to get the best deal possible. They need your support to make that happen.
We will approach public sector bargaining with a spirit of openness and the desire to reach a fair agreement. We hope the Furey government will do the same. At this stage, Finance Minister Siobhan Coady has exhibited a positive and collegial approach to bargaining. We are hopeful that this tone continues in the weeks and months ahead.
Our message to government and the employers that will be involved in public sector bargaining is clear — NAPE will come to the table to bargain fairly, respectfully, and collaboratively, but we will not come to the table with the benefits and rights that we’ve fought for decades to attain up for the taking.
Our members have been at the forefront of the pandemic for two years. Your work, compassion, determination, professionalism, and unwavering commitment to the people of this province must not be forgotten in this round of bargaining.
They called you heroes when the chips were down and we won’t allow them to forget that at the bargaining table.
DEFENCE FUND – PROTECTION AND DETERRENCE
NAPE is in the best financial position in its history and will not hesitate to use those resources to support and defend our members, if we get to that point.
The NAPE Defence Fund is there to protect our members and provide financial compensation if there is a labour disruption, but it also exists as a powerful deterrent to job action – a strong incentive for employers to work with NAPE to reach an agreement at the bargaining table.
We hope to never have to use the funds, but they are there as a last resort, if needed.
NAPE will do everything in our power to avoid getting to that point, but we will need the provincial government to come to the bargaining table with the same resolve.
NEGOTIATION COORDINATION, SUPPORT, AND OVERSIGHT
To ensure that our Bargaining Teams have the support they require and to strengthen our overall approach to this round of public sector bargaining, we have established a Bargaining Oversight Committee comprised of Staff Negotiators that will regularly meet and coordinate with the Negotiating Teams and with us.
The Oversight Committee will oversee, coordinate, and provide counsel for all facets of the negotiating process, including ensuring effective communications between all of NAPE’s Bargaining Teams.
We will also be holding a joint session in early April of all the Bargaining Teams as well as the staff negotiators assigned to each bargaining unit. It is important that the teams are well trained, equipped, and prepared for the task that they have been given – representing public sector workers at the bargaining table. For new Bargaining Team members, it will provide an educational forum and for all Committee members an opportunity to receive a full briefing.
Public sector bargaining will be a top priority for NAPE until we reach a tentative Collective Agreement.
We will do our utmost to ensure that you are informed of developments with regard to public sector negotiations.
For a complete list of your peers that have been elected to represent you in bargaining, as well as the NAPE Staff Negotiator assigned to each team please visit: https://www.nape.ca/update/2022-public-sector-bargaining-teams/
Updates on bargaining will be posted on our social media sites (ie. www.facebook.com/NAPENL) and on our Public Sector Collective Bargaining Info Page here: https://www.nape.ca/member-services/collective-bargaining-updates/
The road ahead will indeed be challenging … but through our dedication and solidarity, we have no doubt that we will succeed.
Remember – there is strength in the union!