PUBLIC SECTOR BARGAINING UPDATE 2
This message serves as the second in an ongoing series of updates about public sector bargaining.
BARGAINING TEAM ORIENTATION AND MINI-CONFERENCE
Your Bargaining Teams met on April 11 in St. John’s for an orientation and discussion about public sector bargaining. The day consisted of sessions on the public sector bargaining act, communications, an overview of the current national and provincial landscape, bargaining training, and a discussion/planning session on the overall strategy going forward.
In addition to the 16 public sector bargaining teams, the five (5) teams from MUNL/Marine Institute (MI) joined in. Unlike in previous rounds of bargaining, where MUNL and MI waited until after public-sector bargaining concluded to commence their bargaining, your union has made the decision to bargain for these groups at the same time to provide a strong and united front for 21 bargaining units.
In past rounds of bargaining, teams would go to the table separately. Often, outside of the recent contract extension, this would lead to bargaining taking a significant amount of time to play out. By the time bargaining and voting concluded, it was almost time to start the process again. This also meant that retroactive and time-sensitive issues either got brought to the forefront of bargaining – taking up a lot of focus and space – or opportunities missed. Additionally, key decisions could not be made at each of the tables without approval from more senior officials on the employer side which further delayed and bogged down the process at each table.
To avoid some of these pitfalls, for this round of bargaining, a consensus was reached by all bargaining teams on moving forward with a Core Bargaining Strategy.
Overall bargaining would be guided by the Bargaining Oversight Committee (BOC).
The BOC consists of:
Trevor King (Secretary-Treasurer),
Chris Henley (Labour Relations Specialist),
Elaine Price (LRS), and
Vina Gould (LRS)
These individuals are the most senior and seasoned negotiators in our union. They have a long history of negotiating strong collective agreements.
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. The BOC will negotiate all core bargaining issues like wages, common proposals, overarching issues, key language/letters, etc. The BOC will do this in consultation and coordination with each of the 21 Bargaining Teams.
This would mean that each team would feed their ‘local issues’ (important proposals/issues specific to their bargaining unit) to the BOC to negotiate at the core table. The BOC would consult and coordinate with each team on the efforts at the core table on these and all issues/proposals. Ultimately, each Bargaining Team would decide the fate of bargaining for their respective unit. And, as always, members would have the final say via a secret ballot vote on whether to accept or reject whatever is achieved at the table.
This provides the BOC with the backing and strength to negotiate directly with senior officials with the government/employer. This cuts through the back and forth/lack of authority issues that plagued the previous approach to bargaining. This should move things along more quickly.
The Employer has agreed to this bargaining process.
We firmly believe that this process will be more effective and efficient and will provide the best chance at a positive outcome for our members (in a timely manner).
We anticipate bargaining to begin in earnest in the coming weeks.
As always, we will provide updates to the best of our ability as this process unfolds.
Public sector workers got our province and our people through the past two years. We will not let this government forget the sacrifices our members made throughout this pandemic to provide care, compassion, and security to the people of our province. Our province works because you do!
Our message going into bargaining is clear – we will not take one step backward. Workers have played their part; they have nothing else to give. It is time for them to move forward!
In the face of the rising cost of living, it’s time for these workers to make tangible and concrete progress in this round of bargaining; progress that reflects the incredible value of their work.
There is strength in our numbers. There is power in the union.