This is to advise you that yesterday the Communications, Energy, and Paper Workers Union (CEP) filed an application to replace CULE as the bargaining agent for its members who work in Ontario Regional Offices including Ottawa.
Under Ontario Labour Legislation CEP will need to show proof that it represents at least 40% of the members in the bargaining unit in order to have the Board conduct a vote. That means that if there are 30 people in the unit CEP needs at least 12 signed cards to apply to hold a vote. Of course, the appropriateness of the bargaining unit and how many people it actually contains will undoubtedly be a matter of dispute. These and other technical issues need to be resolved prior to a vote being taken. CULE has retained legal council to handle our interests in these matters.
If CEP does have sufficient cards to warrant a vote and if the Ontario Labour Relations Board determines that CULE members in Ontario constitute an appropriate bargaining unit, a vote will be held very shortly thereafter. In that case, only Regional Office staff in Ontario are entitled to vote. Fifty percent plus one of those who vote will determine whether CULE continues to be their bargaining agent or CULE is displaced by CEP.
In the event that CEP displaces CULE, CEP will inherit any outstanding grievances and assume responsibility for bargaining the next collective agreement.
CULE will continue to represent our members outside Ontario. All monies currently in CULE’s possession will remain with CULE – this includes the Strike Fund, the Solidarity Fund and the Retirement Benefit Fund. Ontario members who move to CEP would no longer have access to these monies.
If the Alliance Employees Union experience is any indication there will be other, far more reaching, consequences. AEU Unit I narrowly voted to join CEP earlier this month while AEU Unit II overwhelmingly chose to stay with AEU. Leaving aside the obvious negative consequences on the upcoming round of bargaining the resulting rift is having a impact on work relations at 233 Gilmour. These are seriously strained and while they may ease slowly it is very unlikely that this will happen in time for the next round of bargaining.
The main beneficiary of this CEP raid will be the PSAC as an employer. Faced with a divided and unorganized staff they will have little trouble imposing a roll back of benefits and pension premiums at the bargaining table.
Just when solidarity is most critical there is precious little to be found!
We will endeavour to keep you up to date as these matters unfold. Should you have questions or concerns please address these to your CULE Director.
Dave Jackson CULE President