Newsletter

The Echo, Issue 2: What a year!

Publication Date

Monday, April 16, 2018 - 1:30pm

Message from the Chair

What a rollercoaster ride 2017 was! It was a difficult round of bargaining. We experienced anxiety and fatigue. We went hoarse from talking for endless hours around the table. The nail-biting finish had all of us on the edge of our seats. But best of all, we tasted victory.

PDF iconClick here to download The Echo, Issue 2

And what a beautiful victory it was! We made a number of fantastic gains – without resorting to a strike. I can’t tell you how proud I was of our members, who were ready to walk off the job – or be walked off the job – if need be. Once again, solidarity was the key to our success.

The draft collective agreement is now being reviewed as it goes through the vetting process. Finalized copies should be available to all members in the coming months. For the next three years, we’ll be in high gear enforcing the new language.

In that regard, the Provincial Labour Management Committee and Regional Labour Management committees have been meeting regularly with the employer to clarify outstanding differences in the way the new collective agreement is being interpreted.

This is no easy task. We’re paying special attention to all of the job postings to ensure that positions are posted and filled properly. We’ve also been questioning the employer’s scheduling practices. This includes Saturday scheduling in Logistics, weekly and daily scheduling in Retail, and days off.

CSR Grid Committee meetings were held throughout January, February and March, and the next meetings will take place April 11, 12 and 13.

This joint committee has reviewed over 800 CSR grid challenges, and it continues to work towards getting everything properly reviewed. It has been a time-consuming process, because we need to take all details into account to process each complaint properly. We continue to prepare and send out response letters to those who have submitted challenges.

I want to thank all those who have run in local elections and warmly welcome our newly elected leaders. Speaking from personal experience, it’s a significant commitment – but also a highly rewarding one. I strongly encourage members to attend their local’s meetings and get to know their leaders.

I also want to express my sincere appreciation to those who so generously gave of their own time to represent the members in the past. You’ve made a big difference and have been instrumental in getting us to where we are today. Thank you for your magnificent efforts and commitment.

Of course, LBED is just one special part of OPSEU, which will hold its annual Convention from Thursday, April 19 to Saturday, April 21 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown Toronto. As President Thomas so eloquently put it in his recent blog, “Convention is a reflection of our united strength and our shared ability to be the change we seek.”

Over 2,000 delegates and observers will assemble to formulate and debate policy, pass important resolutions, discuss union business, and chart OPSEU’s course over the next year and beyond. It’s also a golden opportunity to catch up with old friends, make news ones, and experience the strength and momentum of the labour movement.

Over 120 LBED members from locals across Ontario will participate at Convention. Their job will be to put forward our particular concerns and vote on resolutions and constitutional amendments in a way that best protects our interests and those of the wider union. To those attending for the first time, you’ll be part of an exercise that vividly demonstrates the fundamentally democratic nature of OPSEU. Prepare to be exhilarated and inspired!

I’m very excited to announce that one of our own members, Albert Salmon, from the Durham Logistics Service Centre, has won the nomination for the Human Rights Award. President Thomas will present Albert with his award on Friday, April 20.

Congratulations, Albert, on your bold and principled fight against discrimination in the workplace! Because of your courageous actions, the Durham warehouse is now undergoing a long-overdue workplace investigation into allegations of systemic racism.

To conclude, as your chair and as a labour activist, I want to say how proud I am of this division and how grateful I feel to be part of it. I send a gigantic and heart-felt thank-you to all local presidents, union stewards and OPSEU representatives for their hard work and commitment to LBED members in 2017 – and for their efforts over the next three years. I feel very honoured to know and work with you all.

Enjoy the spring!

In solidarity,
Denise Davis, LBED Chair

Greetings from the Provincial Health and Safety Committee

Debbie McGuinness, Chair, Provincial Health and Safety Committee

The LBED Provincial Health and Safety Committee members are committed to reducing risks and dangers related to worker safety, and these issues must be addressed. 

Presently, strategies are being put into effect that would force the employer to be concerned about, and accountable for, health and safety issues in the workplace. Moving forward, provisions in the Occupational Health and Safety Act will be implemented to support our requests and recommendations for action.

The issue of employee safety continues to be our number-one issue with the employer. Your Provincial Health and Safety Committee is continuing discussions on safety issues that were raised during the 2017 round of negotiations and mobilization of our members.

We continue to raise concerns about serious incidents that have taken place in some of our stores and have detailed many suggestions to the employer on how we should move to keep our workplaces safer and avoid potential hazards, including this formal letter from me your union chair, which was sent to the employer regarding the union’s concerns about employee safety in the retail stores.

Dear Employer Representatives:

As you know, employees have the right to be protected from hazards while at work.

There has been an increase in violent incidents relating to theft, robbery, threats and bomb scares, which have not only resulted in employee anxiety and fearfulness in the workplace, but have had a negative impact on stores due to employee absences and/or employees requiring medical support or counselling.

The last years have seen an alarmingly high rate of crime in our stores which, in consideration of statistics and facts, appears to be increasingly problematic and detrimental to worker safety. It is of utmost importance to recognize that the dangers associated with these crimes could and should be minimized

Therefore, the Provincial Health and Safety Committee is putting forward recommendations, as is our right per the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

9(18), 9(19 and) 9(20), as well as Article 33 of our Collective Agreement.

The recommendations are as follows:

- Staff schedules reflecting consideration for employee safety.

- Reassessment of the shop theft policy.

- Daily security staff in all “risk” stores.

- Installation of security devices (e.g., panic buttons).

We look forward to sharing a discussion with you about these crucial issues at our upcoming meeting.

It was disappointing to discover that the employer’s efforts were lacking in most of their responsibilities and non-existent in others:

  • Many tasks had not been completed.
  • There was very little feedback regarding information that had been requested (e.g., Time and Motion study, the conditions of stores needing repairs, unsafe work practices in logistics, case weights and configurations, etc.)
  • There was also an obvious disregard for employee safety as it pertains to working alone, theft and employee exposure to violent incidents.

We continue to have dialogue regarding location conditions. This conversation has revolved around such issues as parking lot repairs, improvement for exterior lighting, and garbage container locations. According to feedback the committee has received, these issues are being addressed.

It should be of interest to members that the LCBO received a hefty fine in April 2017 for $100,000 due to an unsafe workplace at the Sandalwood LCBO location.

The condition of the skids continue to be an agenda item at our joint meetings.

Of the many issues on the table, workplace accommodations and lack of rotation, leading to repetitive strain injuries, have been a concern. Feedback from the members tells us that daily occupational planners are not working. We will receive more feedback regarding this issue from the employer’s Time and Motion study.

Despite our struggles, you can be assured that the Provincial Health and Safety Committee is committed to developing and upholding the implementation of policies that promote a culture of safety in the workplace and protect the rights and working conditions of LCBO employees.

In solidarity,
Debbie McGuinness, Provincial Health and Safety Committee Chair

Pension and benefits update

Shelly Robitaille, Chair, Pension and Benefits Committee

Benefit Improvement

Below are some of the new entitlements that were negotiated in this round of bargaining. These changes will apply to bargaining unit employees who are covered by the applicable benefits plans.

Hospital care

Coverage for the cost charged by a licensed hospital for a semi-private room has increased from $170 to a maximum of $240 per day, provided:

  • the person was confined to hospital on an in-patient basis; and
  • the accommodation was specifically elected in writing by the patient.

Semi-private or private accommodation in an alcohol or substance-abuse treatment facility has gone up to a maximum of $170 per day.

Professional services

Services provided by a chiropractor, osteopath, podiatrist/chiropodist, naturopath, physiotherapist, speech therapist, massage therapist and acupuncturist have increased from a maximum of $35 a visit to $50 per visit for each visit not subsidized by OHIP.

The combined services of the listed practitioners available to eligible employees are limited to $2,000 per year. This is also available to each eligible dependant of the employee.

Coverage for the out-of-hospital services of a psychologist/social worker/Master of Social Work, including family or group therapy, for mental or emotional illness is $50 per half hour per eligible family member. Expenses for some of these professional services may be payable in part by OHIP.

A pre-determination of benefits should be completed before the services begin. You should submit a detailed treatment plan with cost estimates. You will then be advised of any benefit that will be provided.

Vision care

Coverage for eye exams performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist once in any 24 consecutive months is up to $80 per person.

Coverage for the purchase and fitting of prescription glasses or elective contact lenses, as well as laser surgery performed by an ophthalmologist, to correct vision, is a maximum of $340 in any 24 months.

The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), which is provided by Morneau Shepell, is now available to all employees from their date of hire.

To access EFAP, call toll-free 1-844- 880-9142. To access your account for Morneau Shepell, please register.

Some of the services provided include:

  • smoking cessation
  • enhancing your relationship
  • financial support
  • family support
  • legal support
  • nutrition support
  • naturopathic services
  • health coaching

Optional out-of-country coverage

The new plan is optional and is an extension of the basic coverage that is part of your benefits plan. It offers higher levels of coverage and ensures you get the best possible care in the event of an unexpected medical emergency while travelling.

You are covered for 60 days on a trip outside of Ontario. If you have family coverage under your benefits plan, your dependants will also be covered.

This optional benefit is available to permanent full-time employees, permanent part-time employees and seasonal employees (with more than one year of service).

Coverage will start on January 1, 2018, for the 15 months ending March 31, 2019.

It offers low rates for travel health insurance, with much broader coverage than the basic plan that is part of your benefit plan.

Once you have enrolled, you cannot opt out. Payroll deductions will be twice a month starting January 25, 2018.

In April 2019, you will automatically be enrolled. As such, you must provide a written notice if you choose to opt out of the coverage.

If you have any questions, please contact Corporate Benefits at 416-365-3941, extension 4400.

The employer will offer the following two benefit enhancements, which are available to PFT employees, PPT employees, and seasonal employees who may be entitled to benefits under the plan, per section 12 of Appendix 4 (seasonal employees) of the collective agreement:

  1. Optional, employee paid out-of-country medical coverage will be made available effective January 1, 2018.
  1. The employer agrees to increase the current coverage under the plan to one year of coverage after death.

Plan maximums

Current plan:

Coverage for eligible reasonable and customary expenses for physician fees and hospital fees are only up to the amount payable under your provincialplan (OHIP).

  • Coverage for other eligible reasonable and customary expenses are only up to the current group benefit plan.
  • This means that if the fees are higher than what OHIP or the current benefits plan pays, you will pay the rest out of pocket.

Optional plan:

  • coverage for eligible reasonable and customary expenses above the amount payable under your provincial plan (OHIP). This coverage includes physician and hospital fees that may be higher than the amount covered by OHIP.
  • Maximum $5 million per insured person per lifetime.

Residential treatment

A letter of agreement was added to the collective agreement that we ratified a few months ago. Below are some of the new entitlements that are covered under the letter.

The agreement expands coverage to include residential treatment programs. A residential treatment facility is a live-in health facility providing therapy for substance abuse, mental illness and other behaviour problems.

Under the agreement, residential treatment is applicable to all employees who have benefits for drug and alcohol addictions and mental health treatment

The benefit will cover for up to a maximum of 30 days and a maximum $20,000 per stay.

To be eligible, the expenses must be:

  1. listed as an eligible expense in the policy;
  2. recommended by a physician;
  3. or services at a licensed facility; and
  4. considered necessary medical treatment, as determined by Manulife (through predetermination)

For more information, speak to a Manulife customer service representative toll-free at 1-800-268-6195 or contact a member of the Pensions and Benefits Committee.

Navigating workplace harassment investigations

Jennifer Van Zetten

Our latest collective agreement includes language regarding workplace harassment investigations. As such, if an employee files a formal complaint, management must deal with it expediently: the investigation and the reports must be completed within 45 days.

Our workplaces must be free of harassment and discrimination. To ensure your rights are protected, it is useful to know the employer’s document AM-0408-02 Human Rights/ Workplace Harassment Prevention Internal Resolution Process, which should be posted on health and safety communication boards.

Outlined below is a summary of the document and some tips on how to navigate through this process, should you find yourself experiencing any form of bullying, intimidation, harassment or violence.

Step 1: If possible, ask the person to stop.

Be direct and respectful, and try to address the situation as quickly as you can. Sometimes, speaking up can put an end to things. Sometimes it simply cannot, in which case, move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Report the incident to your manager.

Explain what happened, how you feel, and what steps you have taken to resolve the matter. Your manager will then contact the district manager, who in turn will contact human resources. At this step, your manager will attempt to resolve the issue between the two parties without calling witnesses. Sometimes, management likes to consult witnesses and gather statements at this stage. This should not be happening. Only the parties involved should be consulted. It must also be noted that if both parties are unionized employees, then both parties can request union representation for the mediation process.

Step 3: Submit a formal report to the HR manager.

If the situation persists or the results from Step 2 are not satisfying, submit a report of the incident to the manager of HR or upper management. There are many ways the employer may attempt to address the situation. As quoted in this document from the LCBO’s Administration Manual, they “may choose to activate an informal process to address the complaint, may choose to engage in a formal mediation process, or may conduct an investigation in accordance with the formal investigation process.”

Be a part of this decision with your union representative. Your participation is integral to the process of resolution and needs to be respected. Depending on the nature of the incident, some of these methods may not be appropriate. Perhaps all members involved in the investigation wish to have union representation to ensure that all information is collected properly.

The formal process involves securing an internal or external investigator to meet with both parties and, potentially, consult other witnesses. The investigator will conduct interviews, create a file for HR, and prepare an investigation report that makes a “finding of facts” and provides an assessment on whether the incident was a violation.

Enduring a toxic work environment is distressing and difficult. Knowing how the process works and seeking support from your union reps is essential for a fair and prompt resolution. Hopefully, you will never need to navigate these steps.

Changes to Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017 and the Employment Standards Act

Jeffrey Weston, Negotiator, OPSEU

On February 6, the LCBO released a memo to retail employees outlining its stance on the recent changes to the Employment Standards Act made through Bill 148.

At the Provincial Labour Management Committee meeting held the same day, the union discussed the memo and how it affects workers. In many aspects, the LCBO’s stance is in line with OPSEU’s view on the changes – but not everything.

It should be noted that many of the changes are already covered by your collective agreement. In other words, the employer is already in compliance with many of the newly legislated changes, such as the minimum wage, Family Day, three weeks’ vacation (or percentage in lieu) after five years of employment, etc.

Some provisions of Bill 148 do not become enforceable until January 1, 2019, such as on-call and schedule-change protections. Those items will be discussed between the union and LCBO in the coming months.

We do want to shed light on some of the changes that are in place now, such as Sunday work, personal emergency days and additional leaves.

Refusal of Sunday work

The LCBO is now covered by the ESA and must adhere to it. This means that provisions of the Act that were previously exempt from enforcement are now enforceable.

One such change is the ability to refuse Sunday work. Any employee who was hired before September 4, 2001, is entitled to refuse working on Sunday, provided they inform their manager in writing. Any employee hired since September 2001, cannot refuse Sunday work unless, at the time of employment, they were not told that Sunday was an expected day of work for them.

If the ability to refuse Sunday work applies to you, please tell your manager in writing that you intend not to work on a Sunday.

New leave provisions

The changes in Bill 148 include a collection of new leaves, which the LCBO agrees members are entitled to access. They are:

  • domestic or sexual violence leave
  • death of a child leave
  • crime-related child disappearance Leave
  • critical illness leave

Personal emergency leave

Bill 148 has enhanced the personal emergency leave entitlement to include two paid days. Every LCBO employee is already entitled to 10 days of unpaid personal emergency leave. The changes in Bill 148 mean that the first two days are with pay. Further, the employer cannot ask for a physician’s note for these days.

The LCBO has taken the position that the two paid days do not apply to permanent full-time, permanent part-time or seasonal employees, because there are enhanced paid-leave provisions in the collective agreement. OPSEU does not agree. We have told the employer that we believe the two days leave with pay are an entitlement afforded to all employees, because those two leave days are not bound to illness only.

Please see the definition of when and how you may use this leave, which is taken from the Ministry of Labour website:

Reasons a personal emergency leave may be taken

An employee who is entitled to personal emergency leave can take up to 10 days of leave each calendar year due to:

  • personal illness, injury or medical emergency or
  • death, illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter relating to the following family members: spouse (includes both married and unmarried couples, of the same or opposite genders)
  • parent, step-parent, foster parent, child, step-child, foster child, grandparent, step-grandparent, grandchild or step-grandchild of the employee or the employee’s spouse
  • spouse of the employee’s child
  • brother or sister of the employee
  • relative of the employee who is dependent on the employee for care or assistance

Should you need to use your personal emergency leave, as outlined in the ESA (for example, a flooded basement or a car accident), please ensure you tell your manager whether you have used your first two days with pay. If you haven’t, you should be getting paid.

As discussions between OPSEU and the LCBO continue on your employer’s current compliance with the ESA and the upcoming changes for 2019, we will keep you informed. As always, please ensure you discuss the Bill 148 changes with your staff rep to ensure that your entitlements are being recognized.