Bad Decisions at YG

cropped Steve in black & whiteAre Yukon Government’s Managers and Deputy Ministers intentionally making bad decisions? Maybe it’s a lack of understanding or an information vacuum that makes for face-palm results on critical cases? Either way it frustrates the hell out of me.  It’s YOU, the members we represent, who suffer from some very bad decisions at every level of the grievance process.

I attend many complex representation meetings including policy grievances, 3rd level grievances and arbitration hearings.  This isn’t standard for an elected official of YEU but  I want to observe the process. Poorly considered decisions result in grievances being referred to PSAC for arbitration, lengthening the process & leaving workers in limbo for years.

The cases that go this route include dismissals, lengthy suspensions, human rights complaints and issues of accommodation. The process can drag on, and the uncertainty impacts an individual’s physical and mental well-being & livelihood.

The cases don’t start out terribly complicated, so what happens?  To answer that, we need to look at the first step in a grievance process. This varies by employer but typically starts with an immediate supervisor.  Most of these individuals aren’t trained to solve complex human resource problems – they are intelligent and well-meaning people – but they’re set up for failure by their employer. They are not given the freedom or the tools they need to be successful.

We see good people promoted into supervisory positions because they know the work; they have the knowledge to perform the job but aren’t given labour relations training. It’s not just the supervisors who lack training either – the same is true for all levels of decision makers – Human Resource Advisors, Directors, CEOs and Deputy Ministers.

Accommodating a physical injury is straight forward – an injured worker is usually off work for a short period of time. Upon a return to work, limitations may include how much weight can be lifted or how long the worker may spend at a dedicated task.  Mental health issues, invisible disabilities or addictions also require accommodation, the requirement is entrenched in law.  This is where we encounter a minefield of miscommunication and a lack of understanding.

Supervisors need proper training to have difficult conversations with workers. Without the right skills, sensitive personal information that might inform a supervisor’s decisions can be misunderstood, inappropriately shared or lost in translation.
An attempt at resolution can quickly turn into a performance management issue & rather than achieving an accommodation, struggling workers are disciplined.

By the time someone figures out what needs to be done, all positions are firmly entrenched and the opportunity to problem solve is long past. Few directors, Deputy Ministers or CEOs are willing to rule against those below them; it reflects badly on the organization and frankly, most of the higher ups haven’t received the training needed to know better.

After a few agonizing rounds of bad decisions, a case may end up referred to arbitration, and the people with the knowledge to find a resolution get involved at last. That sounds like a good & positive thing, doesn’t it?  Sadly, very few settlements are actually awarded by an arbitrator’s decision.

Most employers offer to settle prior to the arbitration hearing, or during the proceedings. Why? If an arbitrator makes a decision in favour of the worker, it is precedent setting and becomes part of the public record. A settlement acts as a gag order – instead of public accountability, the matter disappears.

By the time a case reaches this point, the worker involved is often truly suffering either mentally or financially.  While it would be great to stand on principal and hold out for a favorable decision and a culture change, it’s rarely feasible or recommended. Enough is enough and peace of mind comes first.

YEU won’t recommend a member continue a struggle just to achieve a ruling.  Settlement offers are usually enticing enough and the grievor weary enough that they accept the settlement offer and try to rebuild their lives.  Of course, without a binding decision, the employer is free to continue the practices that initiated the grievance process in the first place.

It’s true that not every employee is a model worker.  Management has the right to manage and we respect that right when the employer operates in good faith.  The union is willing to have tough conversations when members seek representation; that’s part of our job and reflects our obligation to the membership at large.

Some supervisors tell us they feel inadequately trained in labour relations and human resources.  If the employer won’t fulfill their obligation, we’ll be glad to step up to help you get what you need.

Congratulations to employers who build strong teams through appropriate training and empowering policies. To the rest of you (and you know who you are) please put aside your pre-conceived notions, prejudices, superiority complexes and whatever else motivates you. Treat Yukoners – our members, with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Greetings from YEU Local Y010 President Rob Jones

Greetings Brothers & Sisters, Friends & Colleagues.exec-adjusted

It is a great honour for me to be able to write to you as the new President of Local Y010. I am humbled to have been nominated and trusted to continue the great work of our past President and Executive.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sister Tammi Sikorski for all her hard work, sacrifice and dedication to the local. This was greatly appreciated and I clearly have a high standard to meet in keeping up with Tammi’s leadership over these past few years.  Thank you Tammi, we owe you more than we can ever possibly convey.

I would also like to thank Brother Richard Wagner for his work and representation for the Local and YEU as a whole as our Chief Shop Steward.  His knowledge, mentorship and representation were greatly appreciated.

We also say goodbye to Sisters Kat Traplin and Yoshiko Atkins, their voice, experience and dedication to the Local were greatly appreciated and will be missed. Thank you for your service. We wish you all the best in the future.

Please allow me to introduce your Local Y010 Executive:

President: Rob Jones
Chief Shop Steward: Paul Davis
Assistant Chief Shop Steward: Laurie Tamminen
Secretary / Treasurer: Denise Berken
Directors:  Duane Purych, Khusru Zaman, Aziz Mollah
Kathy Donnelly, Amber Harder and Danielle Swift.

We have two Director vacancies. If you are interested in being an active voice in your Local please contact me to discuss the roles and responsibilities of a Local Director.

Over the next year local Y010 has an ambitious agenda including:
Y010 new logo 2014
Signing off all RAND members:
A RAND is a worker in the union environment who has not filled out a union card; presently Y010 has some RANDs.  As a RAND your union dues are being deducted, however you do not have all the benefits of full membership.  We will be working in the community and workplaces to ensue our members are converted from RAND to fully signed members to protect your rights.
Not sure of your membership status? Call YEU at 667 2331. They’ll send you a card if you haven’t signed yet.

Shop Steward training and recruitment:
Local Y010 has approximately 2500 members and is growing. At present we have 10 active Shop Stewards looking after your representation needs.  These dedicated Brothers and Sisters are working to ensure your rights in the workplace.  If you are interested in becoming a Shop Steward or have questions about the roles and responsibilities please contact the YEU office at 667-2331 or contact me and I will be happy to chat.  Moving into 2016 there will be new resources and training initiatives for current and new Stewards.

Social awareness:
We’re working hard to ensure social awareness and initiatives in each community.  We’re always looking for members’ ideas, input and comments on how to move our local forward. Our Local meets at 5:30pm the 2nd Tuesday of each month in the YEU Hall. Please attend a Local meeting; we need you!

Lastly, this is a bargaining year and our collective agreement is on the table.  Your Bargaining Team will be working hard to ensure your rights & make sure you are informed.  Ratification meetings will be announced and held after bargaining; be informed and be engaged. Sign up for regular bargaining update emails at http://www.yeu.ca.

Your local executive is working hard for you, we welcome your comments, concerns, and ideas.  Please contact me at rgjones@northwestel.net or call me at 867 334 4331.

In Solidarity,

rob jones

 

 

Rob Jones, President- Local Y010