August 8th 2014 Letter To The Members
August 8, 2014,
ATU 615 Members: Negotiation Update
Here are the facts surrounding negotiations from your ATU Executive board.
Highlights from the City’s offer and what it means to you:
It means that you accept a wage package of 10% over 4 years ending 2016 that will leave us as still one of the lowest paid transit employee groups in western Canada as compared to Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer. It means that you would no longer have a defined benefit pension plan as it currently exists. You would have a defined target plan that would no longer guarantee your pension benefits would not decrease at some point in the future. The city would remove all their risk and liability to guarantee your pension benefit when it comes time for you to retire. THEIR pension experts state that this is necessary for our plan to sustain itself. OUR pension experts tell us different. Our experts state that our plan is sustainable and if we as a group decide to trim benefits it should be short term only. This agreement in principle that the city’s experts tell us is necessary, goes too far by allowing the city to cap their contribution rates. What this means is that they will never have to contribute any more than the agreed upon rates. Reinstating our current benefits in all likelihood would not happen for a long period of time if ever. The city would no longer be liable and responsible to guarantee our benefits. If the plan absorbs another market crash like in 2008, the only option for us would be to further cut benefits. Hence it would be a target plan. If it doesn’t make the target then we trim benefits under the city’s proposal. The city has threatened on several occasions that they will use the wage money set aside for 2013,2014,2015 to start making liability payments on the pension plan. They acknowledge they are responsible to make these payments on your behalf unless we can agree to a different arrangement such as what the other unions and associations have agreed to. They are attempting to lure or fear monger you into accepting this deal by talking about your backpay. These liability payments ,based on the pension plan actuaries figures equates to approx. $2600 per member per year or $90,100 per month that the city would have to pay for ATU members. This equates to over a 5% wage increase per year if you compare it in that respect. Plus your pension benefits would not be reduced and you still have a defined benefit plan. The city wants you to trim your benefits and pay more into the plan and accept 10% over 4 years. We have stated that if the city wants these pension changes it would need an attractive wage package to convince members to accept their agreement in principle. Even having stated that your current executive is of the opinion that saving our defined benefit plan structure as it currently is ,without a doubt the most important issue . Selling off our defined benefit structure and accepting a wage package that doesn’t address wage parity for Access, Journeyman wages for all journeyman positions and our proposed Western Canadian Averaging formula ,as well as the employer no longer wanting to pay for driver license surcharges, in our opinion is unacceptable. Our proposal for the averaging formula would mean that using the 6 cities quoted earlier, using the top conventional operator rate of pay, the average wage of these 6 centers would be calculated in April and October of each year, and as the number moves up so too would your wage on the same
percentage for each classification. You would be receiving a pay increase every April and October as the average moves up. The City police association has this similar formula in their current collective agreement. This would ensure our wages would never be the lowest in western Canada but also not the highest, because we feel 95% is a fair and modest starting point to achieve in this round of bargaining. FYI the police are at 98% currently. The city has failed to address this proposal in any of their offers. They have stated to us at bargaining that they do not want to allow other cities bargaining to dictate the level of wages they must pay us. They also stated that once this formula gets put into a collective agreement ,it is hard for them to get it out. What else does accepting this offer mean to you? In mediation the city proposed a moa that would severely impact ATU financially and also affect how we are able to function. Our initial proposal requested that the city reimburse ATU 615 for a portion of our lost time or union business. This would be the equivalent of a half time position or 1040 hrs at the highest rate in the collective agreement. Approximately $40,000 cost to the city. They currently pay for 2 full time officers for a local of 1800 members so we believe our proposal is in line with other civic locals. The city did not address this proposal in their last final offer in May, but brought forth this MOA in mediation. This moa would dictate various changes in process and essentially mean that your president would be at the city’s disposal to conduct the majority of affairs for the local. Under this moa the city would tell us who could or could not attend grievance hearings and that they would no longer pay for more than one atu member and the grievor to attend grievance hearings. The president would no longer be able to drive or work in any capacity other than for the local.. Hence no overtime opportunity ,etc,etc. This may sound good but essentially all other executive that need to be off to conduct union business union paid, the union would not only pay for their lost time and benefits ,but we would also be expected to reimburse the city for their replacements at applicable rates. Example if we have our audit committee off work to do the audit, we would be expected to pay the city for their replacements and the committee as well. The city would control all aspects of how we function and spell financial disaster for our local. We obviously don’t agree with this moa and have since filed another unfair labor practice against the city for rollback bargaining in bad faith for taking away benefits. The city has applied to the labor board for them to conduct a vote on this offer on August 12th,2014. ATU 615 is not opposed to another vote, but has replied to the labor board for the vote to be held after August 18th. As of the time of writing this, we have not yet received a response from the board on whether they will grant our request to delay the city’s request. You may access our last proposal to the city, and their recent proposed offer for settlement on our website ATU615.com. We have also posted information relative to our pension plan and the cities pension plan special payments. TO SUMMARIZE- Your executive believes the city’s second final offer fails to meet your expectations as well as ours. If and when the labor board calls for the vote, we ask for your support in rejecting this offer. We do not recommend selling off our future for the lure and temptation of receiving backpay . Your executive took an oath when elected to represent the best interests of our members . By voting no to this offer, you will enable us to fulfill our obligations by bringing you a collective agreement that we can recommend at some point in the future. You control your own destiny and I am confident you will continue to make the right decision. Any Questions please contact any e-board member.
On Behalf of your ATU 615 Executive Board, Jim Yakubowski