President's Report

By: Mark Beeching

Every month at the General Meetings the Presidents Report is read out and made available for the members.

President's Report


March 27 2019

I wish to thank those members who respectfully contacted myself, another executive member or a job steward regarding concerns they have. Asking for information directly from the local will avoid rumor and gossip, therefore union meetings are so important. I would like to have been here to personally address you but have had a week’s holiday booked since last year.

Communications:

Our new website is up and running. We are constantly trying to improve it. I have asked David to investigate a member only log in site where there can be ongoing dialogue exclusively with our members. Recently I received an email from a member with information valuable to our membership, a secure section of the site may be helpful in publicizing this kind of information.

During training in Baltimore, we were given training on multiple methods of communicating by electronic means, our executive will be exploring some of these. In order to be successful, we must ensure that we are able to communicate factually, this is time consuming and needs to be assigned to a willing volunteer.

Every coin has two sides social media is sometimes a source of information but often a conduit for assumption and outright mis-information. Our local responds to concerns daily. Neither I or any of our executive team have time to chase rumors spread like manure in a field. We are making strides with better communication and are committed to improving.

Training:

On March 10, 2019 I flew to Baltimore to the Tommy Douglas Convention Center (TDCC) for mandatory new president training. The TDCC is on a campus that has world class training facilities and educators. The international ATU funds many training sessions and paid for my flight, accommodation, transportation, training and amazing food.

  • Canadian Politics and how it affects transit, safety and labour
  • Transportation Companies
  • Safety committees
    • Ergonomics
    • Blind Spots
    • Committee structure
    • Contract language
    • Local Union officer duties and responsibilities
    • Fiduciary responsibilities of the union including record keeping and Financial Officer responsibilities
    • How to create a powerful union
    • Involving members
    • Grievance and Arbitrations
    • Negotiations
    • Electronic communications

    It was also an incredible opportunity to meet new presidents and financial officers from across North America. Despite the fact portions of training were separated into Canadian and American content, most of the training was done jointly as subject matter was universal to working people in North America. Importantly, we learned that Canadians must guard the rights won by those that came before us. There is an attempt to move American labour law to the north, union members must actively protect our rights.

    Negotiations:

    Our local has reviewed the surveys and we are appreciative of the response. Your local has assigned members to several committees, the most active now is the research committee. We are working together to take the results of the survey, looking at other unions collective agreements, the past negotiation proposals and grievances to develop a strong proposal. Members that can assist by proposing language that can be reviewed and possibly incorporated into a proposal.

    Community Outreach

    We have a long history of struggle, the community we serve has been our greatest ally. We need to strengthen our ties with the community by attending public events, sending letters to the editor, talking with local elected officials and developing ties between the ATU and groups that our membership has connection with. Your help in reaching out is crucial.

    Bullying and Harassment

    If members feel they have been bullied they should approach their manager (ensure that you have put it in writing). If the alleged bully is your manager contact their superior. Management is mandated by WorkSafe to undertake an objective investigation. If you find the process is unfair, you may also file a report with WorkSafe. Your local has had representation in respectful workplace investigations recently.

    Safety

    Management and the union have different views as to how a safety committee or JOSCH should work. Our local arranged for a group of safety committee members to meet with their regional WorkSafe representative. Our members came out of that meeting better informed and stronger representatives.

    Grievances

    Suspensions:

    I reported in the last union meeting that a member had been suspended for 30 days for an accident. Due to our grievance, management reduced the member’s suspension to 5 days without prejudice (meaning they cannot use this case in any other discipline).

    Early in the process I expressed my anger at management applying the initial 30-day suspension. I don’t apologize for my anger. I do apologize to the membership and to the executive for expressing that anger so early in the process. I commit to you that I will make every effort to inform the members without emotion in the future, once all the facts are available.

    When looking at the evidence there is one undeniable fact, the video evidence showed at least six seconds where the truck was visible. Our executive had to weight that an arbitrator would look at the video clip and see that a driver had time to react to a clearly visible, large truck. I put together a 11-page dissertation with hundreds of pages of supporting documentation none of which would negate the fact that an arbitrator could decide against us case based on the lack of reaction by the driver.

    We also had to look at the financial hardship that an arbitration would put our member through. Arbitrations rarely take less than a year. We also must factor that arbitrators most often “cut the baby in half” meaning that there would still be some form of penalty, quite probably more than 5 days. Meanwhile the member would be without a month of pay. That would be devastating to any member.

    We have taken steps to ensure that any investigation going forward is respectful and fair. There was a serious accident recently where with management did not impart discipline. Our local was called soon after the accident occurred, and I went to Vancouver to support the member.

    Our local has grieved multiple issues in the office. Our frustration mounts since management doesn’t consistently apply the CBA, partially due to unclear language and the lack of negotiation and arbitration history with First Bus.

    Our job stewards have been busy with grievances. It is important to remember that the key to grievances is to come to a resolution that is just. Local 1724 recognizes that grievances ensure that issues do not drag on through timelines.