Whose Side are we ON?!

It’s hard to go to work every day when you’re in conflict with a co-worker.  When workplace conflict starts to impact your life, we hope you look for help. You can take many different paths to resolution, but we hope you will contact the union. Yukon Government workers will likely be assisted by the Respectful Workplaces Office with or without union assistance, while workers from other  Bargaining Units are encouraged to use the grievance process to work through these challenges.

We know going to the union is an idea that makes some people nervous, or uncomfortable. How would it work? How can two co-workers seek help from the same source? When both parties come to YEU for support and representation, how do we make sure we treat them both fairly?

The union cannot choose one member over another. Under the Canadian Labour Code, all Canadian unions have a legal obligation to fairly represent all members, and to look at each individual case on its own merits.  When a YEU Labour Relations Advisor is actively representing one member, and another member involved in the issue requires representation, another YEU Advisor will take on the case. We do not discuss the specific of cases in our briefings as a team, always recognizing our need to remain fair, objective and focused in our representation work.

How do we manage this in serious harassment situations? How about in cases where one person has acted in the role of whistle-blower?

Very serious harassment situations can be complex, and may even involve law enforcement or external investigators. In YG, harassment issues are managed through the Respectful Workplace Office and one or more Advisors are often part of the case management team. Again, we keep our focus on the member we are representing while recognizing that we may have opposing perspectives on some of the points in the case. This is not to say we oppose each other’s work, but we rely on the information from our members and our job is to represent their interests and rights. The same applies whether one or both members blew the whistle, or if the employer directed both members to work with RWO to resolve a workplace conflict.

Union members from other employers without a formal harassment prevention branch do have internal processes, agreed to by the employer and the Union, and we will ensure the employer follows their process, and is held accountable when they don’t.

How do we help members feel safe?

We do our best to assure every member that what they disclose to us is confidential, and we will only share their concerns as needed, and only with their full and informed consent.

If a member doesn’t want us to share any info, then there will be limits to what they can expect in terms of a resolution as workplace conflict is always a multi-party situation. We also have to be honest about the limits to our ability to ensure their privacy when other parties such as RWO and HR are involved.

We counsel members on what to do if they fear workplace reprisal, and we are prepared to hold the employer accountable if there are any behaviors that even appear retaliatory in nature. We assure members that our file management system allows each Advisor to keep their file confidential, with all information stored in a locked cabinet in the Advisor’s office and password protected e-files on our own computer drives. We also have a very high level of trust across our team and communicate this to our members through our actions and words.

What if a member doesn’t want to file a grievance, but wants the situation improved?

The grievance process is our members’ way of speaking out against unjust or unfair treatment in the workplace. Of course it’s only one option; the staff at YEU can recommend alternative dispute resolution, if another path to reconciliation is likely to serve better under the circumstances. Members from non YG Bargaining Units can file grievances in conflict situations, while YG members are directed to the RWO for resolution.

As Labour Relations Advisors, we help members resolve conflict and address harassment or bullying in the workplace. We stay apprised of current case law and research in the area and most importantly, we understand the need for each member involved to be fairly represented, and to feel safe and respected throughout the process.

Call us at 867-667-2331, 1-888-YEU-2331 or email contact@yeu.ca

 

Your Input, Your Contract

Our contract with the Government of Yukon expires December 31, 2018. We are already gearing up for a strong start to the bargaining process, but we need you. Bargaining proposals come from the members. Nominations for the Bargaining Input Committee come from the members & the Bargaining Teams are elected by the members.

We Need Your Bargaining Proposals by June 15

Do you have an idea to improve working conditions in your workplace? Is there something in our contract that just needs fixing?

Please print the Bargaining Input form linked below, complete it with supporting signatures and submit it to your Local President, to the Yukon Employees’ Union, or to the PSAC Regional Office before the Bargaining Input Deadline of June 15th. Not sure how?

Call YEU at (867) 667-2331 or toll-free at 1-888-YEU-2331 
OR call the PSAC North office at Tel: (867) 668-8593
toll-free: 1-888-998-8229
OR 
Email contact@yeu.ca or dalleys@psac-afpc.com 

We hope to have a new contract ratified by the time our current contract expires December 31, 2018 but we need your help to make that happen. Please, get involved now and stay informed throughout the important process of bargaining. 

YG 2018 Bargaining Input Form (complete, print & sign)

YG Bargaining Input Committee Nomination Form (complete, print & sign)

READ THE CURRENT COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT. 
Make note of any articles you think need to be updated, changed, or improved and complete the Bargaining Input form linked above.

Deadline to submit – June 15.

 

YEU@ #PSAC2018 Day 4,5

Yukon’s delegates continue to lead and inspire at the National Convention. Again and again, members of our group have stood in front of hundreds of union activists and presented cohesive, well thought out and persuasive arguments for and against resolutions under debate. Yukon delegates have also contributed greatly to the work of each Convention Committee, seated at the head table to face the membership and their questions.

Teresa Acheson spoke in favour of a resolution to fully fund Regional Conventions, reminding delegates that the proposed budget reflects lower dues for all members, even with this resolution. She reminded them also that every delegate at #PSAC2018 attends thanks to funding from various sources. After coming to the floor again and again, convention after convention, 2018 delegates strongly supported the resolution to fully fund Regional Conventions. Teresa’s decisive arguments came just ahead of the vote, and we believe she helped solidify the win.

YEU’s Stephanie Coulthard stood in support of a resolution to help democratize the election of PSAC Regional Executive Vice President, North. Previously, the position required a candidate to move to Yellowknife if elected. This non-negotiable barrier discouraged many qualified, committed activists from considering a campaign. The floor voted in favour of the resolution to allow REVP’s to live and work in any city with a PSAC Regional Office. For northerners, that means REVP candidates may choose to live in either Whitehorse, Yellowknife, or Iqaluit.

Elections were held first thing Thursday morning for the roles of PSAC National Executive Vice President and National President. Two candidates vied for the top job – Chris Aylward, sitting NEVP and Fabienne Jean-Francois, National Vice President of CEIU.  Sister Jean-Francois secured 23% of the vote, while Brother Aylward achieved the majority and won the seat. Sister Magali Picard, REVP for Quebec was acclaimed as NEVP, with Sharon Desousa accepting the Alternate NEVP position.

A long line of buses waited outside the Toronto Convention Centre to drive delegates to the start of a Fix Finance & Fix Phoenix rally at noon. Despite the rain, a large and raucous crowd marched and chanted, arriving at the constituency office of Finance Minister Bill Morneau. He has a lot to answer for to the workers of this country, including Bill C-27 which will jeopardize the pensions of Canadian workers. Our Yukon activists didn’t let the rains low them down, marching in full solidarity with our affected brothers and sisters. Phoenix needs to go, and Canada’s public servants MUST be paid, correctly and on time, for their work. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23.3 states “Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.” The PSAC demands that the Liberal Government fix Phoenix now.

After hours of debate with over 80 speakers lined up at the microphones around the hall, a controversial resolution put forward by the Collective Bargaining Committee to allow electronic voting in some cases was passed. Following the vote, delegates again lined up at the microphones to record against, ensuring the minutes show their opposition to this contentious change. For those of us in the far north, we believe this change may allow greater participation in ratification votes for members in remote communities.

A moving tribute to 30 year PSAC activist and two term President Robyn Benson wrapped up the business of the day, with delegates looking forward to an old fashioned Manitoba Social in her honour. Tomorrow will provide an opportunity to get back to debate and voting for the morning before Frank Miller, elder from the Mohawk Turtle Clan offers a traditional blessing to close the 2018 Convention.

YEU @ #PSAC2018 – DAY 2

Monday April 30 was a very important day at the 18th Triennial Convention of the PSAC. Revered Senator Murray Sinclair, past chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was keynote speaker. He spoke of painful issues with great dignity and gentle humour, sharing his insights into the reality of life for many indigenous people. Generations of residential schools, racists policies and systemic discrimination worked to eradicate indigenous culture and any sense of cultural identity or pride. The damage done by over 100 years of this genocide impacts all of us even now, and was spoken to very powerfully by indigenous delegates who bravely shared their stories.

A multi-media performance entitled No More Stolen Sisters employed video, music and dance to honour the Murdered and Missing Indigenous wives, daughters, mothers and sisters lost forever.

 

#PSAC2018 Day 1 – YEU at Convention

Photo courtesy of the Public Service Alliance of Canada

Our eleven delegates to the 2018 PSAC National were in their seats and ready to work when the week long conference began Sunday.  The day kicked off with a meeting of delegates from across the North, including Nunavut and the NWT. YEU Vice President Paul Johnston joined UNW President Todd Parsons and NEU President Bill Fennel on a panel to explain the resolutions, constitutional work and financial proposals their respective committees had worked on.

Candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency stopped by to introduce themselves and do a bit of campaigning. YEU Delegate Charlene Smith reports that Northern delegates asked the question “what will you do for us if we vote you in?”

Presidential candidates vowed to visit remote northern communities and talk to members about what they need from the PSAC. None claimed to be experts on the north, but all expressed their intent to stay open to the needs of the region, and to try and learn from the members – the real experts.

YEU delegate  Derek Yap was honoured to be asked to join two other activists in singing Oh Canada and Solidarity Forever to open the Convention. He did a great job, and we were all very proud!

Day two is the start of the real work, the business of Convention with debates on resolutions, finance, constitution and more on the agenda for the coming days. We will let you know things are going, and share stories of our delegates in action.

Solidarity Forever!

 

 

 

#millennials-the kids are not all right.

Who are the Millennials? A millennial is anyone born between the early 80’s and the late 90’s – they are a pretty large cohort. Basically, if they’re younger than YOU, they’re millennials. If they’re annoying you, they’re millennials. If you don’t like a style, a trend or a new reality, blame that demographic. Everybody’s doing it. According to the press, they’ve killed the serviette industry and Sears. Really.

Millennials catch hell for just about everything they do or don’t do, buy or choose not to buy. Millennials are scapegoated or mocked almost daily in the media as lazy, vain, celebrity crazed and s­till living with their parents at 30. In fact, they are a socially conscious, diverse and well educated generation, busy challenging the status quo and changing the world in some profound ways.

As workers in their early 20’s to late 30’s, millennials comprise an enormous chunk of the work force. Many struggle to find an entry point into steroid enhanced housing markets, while staggering under crushing student debt. Too many work in jobs that are precarious and poorly paid with few benefits, little security and no hope of a pension. 

The stable union jobs that allowed their parents’ generation to thrive have all but disappeared. The wages that allowed home ownership were the outcome of negotiated collective agreements, but no-one is talking to young people about unions. Organized labour has been so demonized by corporate interests that many union members feel little pride in their membership. As a result, they don’t talk with their kids about the very real advantages of union membership.

Millennials are the first generation who will find it difficult to achieve the same financial stability their parents enjoyed.

In fact, studies have shown that a university educated 30 year old today earns about the same as someone without a degree in 1989, in today’s dollars but of course, the cost of living has skyrocketed.

Few young workers have had much exposure to unions and the bargaining power unionization allows. With many millennials working as interns,  contract labourers or navigating the new “sharing economy”, the idea of collective bargaining seems out of reach. Without it, decent salaries on which to raise a family, buy a home, and save for the future are unlikely.

Millennials starting families are faced with some hard choices. It’s almost impossible to afford daycare for more than one child, but few young families can afford to have one parent stay home – housing costs alone make that choice increasingly difficult. Young workers have some very compelling reasons to join a union and to support the ideals of the labour movement.

Union activism in young workers is in decline, so it’s up to the more seasoned union members to encourage them to look for unionized jobs. Talk to young workers – help them organize their places of work. The loss of good jobs won’t just affect millennials and their children, it will affect every Canadian.

Low wages mean a shrinking tax base, and an ever diminishing ability to fund the services and programs Canadians count on. Canada’s healthcare system will undoubtedly suffer without healthy incomes for this and future generations.

Let’s stop blaming millennials for the real world problems they have inherited. Let’s remember how important unions and union jobs are to communities and families. Let’s support young workers as they try to organize their places of work, and let’s encourage contract workers to find unions that connect and empower free-lance and sharing economy labourers.

The Boss Wants your Medical Records? Call the Union …Quick!

your-medical-history

All of us at YEU are concerned for the privacy of YG employees and the protection of their personal & private medical history.

Sometimes workers must provide their employer with medical information to access a workplace accommodation or receive benefits. The right to privacy is quasi-constitutional, meaning it can’t be set aside or trumped by other policies or rules, so any exceptions to that right must serve a legitimate purpose. Any information shared has to be handled with extreme caution. An employee’s medical condition must have a genuine impact on their work, affecting attendance or creating performance issues. Without a significant impact, the employer does not have a right to medical information- period.

Employees seeking a medical accommodation are obliged to provide some information to the employer; we don’t dispute that. The information must be limited to prognosis and limitations or restrictions that would affect your ability to perform your job. Often though, there is uncertainty about what the employer is entitled to, and how they should be using and protecting this information. Your diagnosis is your business, not your employer’s. Requests for information or history beyond what is genuinely needed are invasive;  employees can never be sure who will see their private information once it has been provided.

We know of many instances where the Yukon government has collected extensive medical information on employees, far beyond what is required to access benefits or develop an accommodation plan. In several cases, information about other family members has been collected and shared – clearly without their knowledge or consent. Over time, these reports have been copied, e-mailed and viewed by many people in various government departments as well as other service providers.

This should never be allowed to happen; it can be very distressing for the workers involved, and is a significant concern for the union. Many employees do not ask for the union’s help at the beginning of the accommodation process, and end up providing a lot of unnecessary and deeply personal information to their employer.

An employee should share medical information only when absolutely necessary, and only the information absolutely required to reach an accommodation. Any general requests for medical records should be refused. The employee should also refuse to authorize any employer representative to speak with their doctor directly. A reasonable alternative is to have the employer write their questions out so that the employee can discuss it with their doctor and consent to specific disclosure.

YEU has asked the Privacy Commissioner to examine Government of Yukon’s processes around collecting, using, sharing and retaining medical information related to the disability management and accommodation process. In the meantime, we can help employees navigate the inquiry and accommodation processes and support employees in protecting their privacy.

Employees should contact YEU before agreeing to share any medical information. Call 667-2331