Strong support from members delivers better agreement
A hard-fought deal
With the support of every member across the province, your bargaining team took this negotiation to the final hour, finally reaching a tentative agreement shortly before 1 a.m. after extending the strike deadline.
While this collective agreement does not contain everything we could have hoped for, the team is confident that this was the best deal we could reach given the context. After significant pressure from the union, we protected members from many of the effects of employer takeaways, including changes to post-retirement health benefit costs, and new accreditation requirements.
We also negotiated some important gains. An end-of-year shutdown will provide additional paid time off for members, allowing them to spend more time with families and loved ones. Improved union leave provisions will allow members to participate to a greater degree in the business of the union, and will leave us stronger as a result.
Speaking for the entire bargaining team, I want to express my gratitude for the unwavering support that members provided us throughout this round of bargaining. When the employer came after our agreement with harsh cuts, wage freezes and unreasonable demands, we asked you for a strike vote to demonstrate to the employer that we had a mandate to oppose those attacks – and you delivered. You then continued to apply pressure through information pickets, rallies, social media and other shows of solidarity across the province. The deal outlined here was only possible because of the strong support you provided.
I also want to thank staff, board members, and all the members across OPSEU who supported our team through this deal. Without the hard work of members, and without that support, this deal could not have happened.
Thank you – from myself, and from the entire bargaining team.
Chair, OPSEU Bargaining Team at MPAC
Standing up to an unreasonable employer
On behalf of the entire Executive Board, and all 130,000 members of OPSEU, I would like to extend my congratulations to your entire membership for a hard-won deal.
In this round of bargaining, your team was faced with an employer that seemed unwilling to compromise, and unable to understand the real value that you deliver, each and every day. Despite this, your support for your bargaining team gave them the strength to fight for a deal that protects the workers impacted by the employer’s demands, while improving working conditions for all members.
This was no easy task, and the negotiation went right down to the wire. But you stood fast. Whether turning in droves at information pickets across the province, at rallies in London and Toronto, or by wearing black, wearing buttons, or myriad individual actions of support for your bargaining team, your steadfast support was key to getting the deal before you.
You should all feel proud of the efforts you and your team put in over the past weeks and months. Well done.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Details from the tentative agreement
The following pages summarize the highlights of the tentative agreement signed between OPSEU and MPAC on June 17. This contract will not come into effect until it has been ratified by a majority of the bargaining unit. This ratification vote will happen across the province in the near future. Details on the timing of this vote are still being determined, and will be provided to members in the next issue of ImpacT at the Table.
All members of your bargaining team are unanimously recommending ratification of this agreement.
Here are the details on the new agreement:
All members will receive a pay increase in the second and third years of the new collective agreement, as follows:
- January 1, 2017 – 1.4 per cent
- January 1, 2018 – 1.4 per cent
While slightly lower than the municipal average, these increases are comparable to those received in a number of municipal sector agreements signed recently, and in line with recent settlements in the Ontario Public Service and the Broader Public Service.
Lump Sum Payment
While no pay increase will be received in the first year of the new agreement, all regular and temporary employees will receive a lump sum payment equal to 1.4 per cent of their annual salary as of the date of this agreement.
The bargaining team worked hard to protect members affected by the new requirement that members entitled to post-retirement health benefits must pay 50 per cent of the cost of these benefits.
First, members who were entitled to these benefits as a result of their years of service in the OPS Pension Plan and who retire before January 1, 2018 will continue to have the employer cover the cost of these benefits in retirement.
Second, while members entitled to these benefits who retire between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020 will be required to pay 50 per cent of the cost of these benefits, this agreement will provide a lump sum payment to these members equal to three years of employee contributions for this coverage.
Finally, as the matter of the funding of post-retirement benefits after age 65 remains a matter to be resolved between OPSEU and the Ontario Public Service, there was an agreement that the parties will meet on this issue within 60 days of this being resolved at the provincial level.
The new agreement requires that all employees in the Property Valuation Specialist position have and maintain accreditation with one of the following certificates:
- Accredited Appraiser Canadian Institute (AACI) from the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC);
- Member Institute of Municipal Assessors (MIMA) from the Institute of Municipal Assessors (IMA);
- Certified Assessment Evaluator (CAE) from the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO); or
- Member/Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS/FRICS) from Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
The bargaining team was successful in ensuring that this requirement would not come into effect until January 1, 2022, to give all affected members sufficient time to obtain the required certification.
In order to ensure that the costs of achieving this certification are not borne by the members, the bargaining team was successful in getting the employer to agree to pay $1000 to members in the Property Valuation Specialist position with these certificates, and $500 to members in other positions with these certificates. As well, the employer has agreed to continue to provide members with study time before examinations and to reimburse members for membership fees, either by:
- covering 100 per cent of the cost of their most expensive annual membership fee, up to $1200, paid to maintain one these five certificates, or
- covering 50 per cent of the cost, up to $600, to maintain an Associate Member Institute of Municipal Assessors (AIMA), Residential Evaluation Specialist (RES) or Canadian Residential Appraiser (CRA) certificate.
Improvements on union leave
A key improvement in the new collective agreement will allow members greater access to leave for union duties. Under the new collective agreement, the monthly allowance for union leave has been increased, with workplaces now entitled to leave based on their membership as follows:
- Up to 60 members: 1.0 days / month
- 61 to 120 members: 1.5 days / month
- 121 members and over: 2.0 days / month
Despite a difficult bargaining context, your bargaining team was successful in obtaining a number of improvements to members’ health benefits:
- Acupuncture has been added to the list of covered services
- Vision care coverage can now be applied towards laser eye surgery
- Hearing aid coverage has been increased from $750 to $1000
- Dental coverage is now extended to cover dental implants
Contentious claims sub-committee
There have been ongoing difficulties with the processing of claims for these benefits. To resolve this, the employer has agreed to the creation of a new Contentious Claims Sub-Committee (CCSC) of the Union-Management Committee to address claims that members feel have not been appropriately reimbursed.
Protecting members who are being paid out for termination/severance pay
Those members who were entitled to compensation on termination or death will be paid out for their entitlement as of January 1, 2016. The bargaining team was successful at including an option for members to split the payment across 2016 and 2017, and to allocate a portion of the payout to their RRSP should they choose, in order to limit the tax implications of this payout for members.
Paid end-of-year shutdown
The bargaining team was successful at negotiating improvements to paid leave for members over the holiday season. The new collective agreement includes a paid shutdown period between noon on December 24 and New Year’s Day, replacing the half day off on December 24 and December 31.
Improvements for temporary workers
The new agreement also includes improved protections for temporary workers. Under this agreement, workers released from their contract and rehired within four weeks will not have this considered a break in service, and the period between release and rehiring will be included when determining their length of continuous service.
Improvements in handling seniority when outside the bargaining unit
Recognizing the issues with employees outside the bargaining unit continuing to accrue seniority, the new agreement eliminates the accumulation of seniority when outside the bargaining unit and caps the length of time that these employees can maintain their seniority.
Employees who take positions outside the bargaining unit will now no longer accumulate seniority during their assignment. While those who take positions of less than 12 months will maintain their existing seniority upon return to the bargaining unit, those who exceed the 12 month period will lose their accumulated seniority.
More information to protect new workers
To ensure that the union can properly protect the rights of new workers, and enforce the collective agreement, the new agreement contains provisions to improve the information provided to the union on new hires and terminations. Under the new provisions, the union will be given the names, start date, rate of pay or termination dates of all new hires and terminations every three months.
Members using their own vehicles will now be paid for mileage at the Canada Revenue Agency per kilometer rate as of January 1 of each year. This is a significant increase over the existing $0.38 / km rate, and will ensure that mileage rates remain in line with costs over time.