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Tentative deal laid out before next week’s vote

OPSEU Blood Services and Diagnostics
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As we reported in Bloodlines, Issue 7, the CBS bargaining team reached a new tentative collective agreement with the employer on February 28.

Click here to download Bloodlines, Issue 8

In this issue, we will present the tentative deal in greater detail so that members will be able to make the most informed choice possible when they head to the polls for the ratification vote in the week of March 19 (see below).

What’s in the new tentative settlement?

The bargaining committee negotiated a number of gains and enshrined language that protects against future legislative changes. Each point is followed by the corresponding reference in the tentative collective agreement, where applicable.

  • Five 0.5 FTE positions will be created in Ottawa. This will allow for a greater guarantee of hours.
  • A new harassment and discrimination complaint process will be created [1A.03]. We know harassment and bullying are pervasive at CBS. This is a significant step in holding management accountable for providing safe and healthy workplaces.
  • Rest periods for mobile employees will be provided at appropriate times during clinic hours [12.01 c) ii)]. Mobile clinic service workers will finally be treated with long-overdue fairness. Hardworking members deserve rest periods during busy clinic hours – not before or after. This has been a significant issue for many of our clinic staff members for years. This change will now fix the problem.
  • All bargaining unit employees hired before the date of ratification will be paid double time on Sunday [12.03 i)]. This is a huge win for us, reversing an unfair concession made in previous bargaining. We all know that Sunday work is the norm at CBS. We also know that with the possibility of the plasma program coming our way, a seven-day CBS operation will become more of the norm. As a result of regaining this Sunday premium after it was lost in the last round of bargaining, CBS members in all classifications will now once again be fairly and properly compensated for any work, in any work location, they perform on a Sunday. This alone will add an average increase of three to four per cent in annual earnings. This is over and above the general wage increase.
  • All scheduled hours will be paid as per the posted schedule, unless an employee volunteers to leave early [12.04 e)]. This is a significant gain. Too often, our members have suffered considerable lost wages by not being paid to the scheduled end time. When you are scheduled, you will now be paid for all hours on the schedule, regardless of whether the clinic ends earlier.
  • There are scheduling improvements on extra-hour distribution (employees have the option to work more than a defined FTE) [12.04]. If you want more hours than your defined FTE, you will now have the opportunity for those hours.
  • Part-time employees will be permitted to have their vacation banks paid out twice a year (previously, it has been paid each January). Finally, part-time workers will be able to receive vacation pay when they take their holidays.
  • There will be an earlier vacation approval process to allow for March break holiday bookings [13.03 a) b)]
  • Regular part-time employees gain an extra float holiday and two paid days of personal emergency leave [18.02 b) and 14.01 d)]. This is a significant gain. These two personal days will now be enshrined in the collective agreement. How is that important, when Bill 148 may have already granted these days? It is important because, at any time, the government of the day could introduce legislative changes that remove these paid days. Should that happen (and with a possible Conservative Ontario government, this may be a huge possibility), CBS members will be protected and will continue to enjoy these two paid days they were previously not entitled to.
  • Full-time employees gain two extra personal days (two of the three personal days will now no longer be taken out of the employee’s sick bank) [18.02 a)]. As we mentioned above, this is also a significant gain, and for the very same reason. We do not know what a new government in Ontario will do with many of the progressive changes brought about as a result of Bill 148. However, CBS members can be assured it will not matter what the government does, as these two additional days are now enshrined in the collective agreement. If a government decides to take the two paid days away, CBS members will now keep them.

Further to this, we have preserved two of your sick days to be used for being sick, when needed, rather than having to use those days for personal leave and not have them available if you actually do get sick. The same practice will also continue on these days with respect to booking the days off. You can book them in advance, if you wish, and the employer will not require any proof of illness, etc. To clarify, you will not require any proof of the reason you are off to claim these additional days.

This improvement is over and above the changes in Bill 148, as those changes are directly related to illness, while these are personal days to be used as an employee chooses. Prior to this, the collective agreement provided only five days, of which you could use up to three for personal use. Now the collective agreement will provide seven paid days.

  • There is a one per cent increase for part-time, temporary and casual employees for in lieu payments for benefits (previously at 7.5 per cent, it is now 8.5 per cent) [22.03 a)].
  • Drivers receive a $1-an-hour wage adjustment retroactive to April 1, 2017 (driver job evaluation, duties and rate of pay). CBS recognizes that the driver role has fundamentally changed over time, and they are significantly behind wage rates of comparable workers.
  • It is also important to note that, despite what we have achieved for the Drivers classification, there are many other classifications that require a full review and update in relation to responsibilities and duties. With that in mind, should the tentative agreement be ratified, the parties will then begin a process of a complete classification review.

This process will be looked at by the Provincial Labour Management Committee. Your input will be vital to any success we have in trying to ensure you are compensated properly for the work that you do every day.

The purpose of the Provincial Labour Management Committee meeting will be to discuss provincial issues and issues that have not been able to get resolved at the local labour management committee meetings, and to review all current classifications that have had significant changes to their job descriptions and job functions, responsibilities and duties. The Provincial Labour Management team will be represented by the local presidents or designee on the union side.

  • However, it doesn’t end with just this. If the tentative agreement is ratified, the union will then provide notice to the employer that we wish to engage in pay equity maintenance. This will then provide direct negotiation and a full review of the pay equity plan that is in place. It will provide a further full review on any new and existing classifications, including Lab Assistant and Clerk, for example, to see whether or not there has been a substantial change around their responsibilities and job duties that would warrant an adjustment to their wage rate.

Some members have asked why we did not look at this during bargaining. The answer is because we do not bargain pay equity while in contract negotiations. When we do that, employers try to forgo any general wage increases and/or try to say that any increases that occur in contract bargaining also include pay equity adjustments. Members lose when that happens. The two processes must be kept separate.

How much are general wages increasing?

The wage increases across the board are listed below. Retroactivity will be on all wages earned for every hour worked, which includes overtime hours. There is no retroactivity on any premiums. (However, the general wage increase will increase the rate received while working any overtime.)

As an example, over the life of the contract based on a 37.5-hour work week, a lab assistant at the top of the grid would see their hourly rate of pay rise from the current $25.83 to $27.68. Over the life of the contract, this would be a 7.16 per cent wage increase, taking into consideration compounding in terms of how the wage has been structured. That adds an additional $3,607 annually, not including any additional overtime premiums (double time for Sunday, for example) that members may receive by the end of the contract.

Another example, would be the Clerk classification. Currently, the Clerk rate is $22.77 at the top of the grid. The wage increase by the end of the contract will move this rate to $24.42 and provide an additional $3,217 annually.

Please keep in mind that, should the contract be ratified, we will then begin the process of pay equity maintenance and a full classification review through the Provincial Labour Management Committee. Your rates could rise again if we can show there has been a substantial change in the work, responsibilities and duties of the job classification you currently hold.

April 1, 2017 – 0.75%
October 1, 2017 – 1.00%
April 1, 2018 – 0.75%
October 1, 2018 – 1.00%
April 1, 2019 – 0.75%
October 1, 2019 – 1.00%
April 1, 2020 – 0.75%
October 1, 2020 – 1.00%

  • The employer has made a commitment that future work relating to plasma will be the work of the bargaining unit [Letter of Understanding re: Future Plasma Sites]. As CBS grows its plasma business, OPSEU members will benefit from more jobs and more hours. This is another significant gain for our members. We now have assurances that any work related to plasma will be the work of OPSEU members across the province. This will mean increased work and more hours for members. We believe this may also lead to the creation of more full-time work for our members. A ratified agreement will help to ensure long-term job security for all.
  • There will be improvements to posting and filling full-time positions after resignations and retirements [Letter of Agreement re: Post and Fill]. OPSEU members deserve to see an end to precarious work and to enjoy the security of full-time jobs. CBS will now be required to post any vacant full-time positions that result when someone leaves a full-time position. In the past, the employer would not fill these positions, and they would replace any requirements with part-time work. This is a major step in protecting full-time work and benefits.
  • Five new full-time jobs will be created in the Local 5103 Region [Letter of Agreement re: Creation of Full-Time Jobs]. Presently, there is only one full-time position in the local. This begins the process of fixing the part-time/full-time ratio. For years, we have been trying to increase the full-time complement in this area. The local currently only has minimal full‑time positions. The creation of these new full-time positions is a significant win for the members of Local 5103 and opens the door to more opportunities and discussions around the creation of full-time work.

We have been asked what will happen, should the membership reject this tentative settlement. We really believe that, for many members, whether to support the deal or reject it is a significant decision.

That said, it is important to note that the bargaining team feels they have made significant improvements to the previous deal that was rejected. What the bargaining team heard at time was the following:

  • Members wanted to maintain the right to strike.

    We have removed the arbitration piece and members will maintain that right.

  • Members wanted the Sunday overtime issue resolved.

    We were able to negotiate double time on Sunday back into the collective agreement, and all current members will benefit from it.

  • Members wanted a process to deal with added responsibilities and changes to their current classifications.

    We have pulled together a process through the Provincial Labour Management Committee to do just that. Further, a ratified deal will allow us to serve notice to bargain pay equity and get that process started. This will directly affect and address many members’ concerns around how their respective jobs have evolved and responsibility has increased over the years.

  • Members wanted better guarantees for hours of work and the creation of full-time work.

    This has also been achieved in the new settlement.

We feel that we have made some significant gains. We also realize that many problems still exist and must be addressed. We believe that we have now negotiated processes that will allow those issues to be addressed.

If the contract is not ratified, then those processes would not be agreed to, and members would see further delays in having issues resolved, such as further compensation and a re-evaluation of their classifications. This will lead to even further workplace frustration for many. It may also take control of the outcome of these negotiations out of the members’ hands because of the nature of the work we do.

Should the tentative settlement be rejected, the bargaining team will ask the Labour Board for a “no board” report. Once that has been issued, we would be in a legal strike or lockout position 17 days later. The bargaining team does not see that a return to the table would produce anything more than we already have achieved in this settlement.

We have the processes in place with this tentative agreement to begin the work of addressing any further inequities that may exist within our classifications and workplaces.

When you vote, please make sure you are informed and have the correct information. Please speak to a member of the bargaining team, if you have any questions. They will be making themselves available until the vote is concluded.

When and where do I vote on ratification?

Click here to download a listing of dates, times and locations.