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Bargaining 2022 Updates

Collective Bargaining Update

June 7, 2022


Bargaining continues June 8th: 

We will be meeting with the employer tomorrow, Wednesday, June 8th.   Our strike action is having an impact, today SPEA and SNC received a joint letter from the CEO’s from OPG and Bruce Power urging us to resolve this dispute as soon as possible.   SPEA’s preference is to resolve the dispute; we have a mandate to bargain a fair collective agreement that reflects needs of our members.  We have heard you loud and clear regarding the Cost of Living!


We will also send the employer a message regarding their new June 2nd draconian language which would prevent SPEA from using any employer-generated documents or emails to support grievances and arbitrations cases. 


Escalating Strike Action:

Our plans to increase our strike action are moving full steam ahead.  We met with senior SPEA members today to strategize on our next steps.   If you haven’t done so already, please fill out your Picket Schedule at https://tinyurl.com/2p9x36uy .   You may be called on for strike action with short notice.


Struck Work:

You have the right to refuse to do struck work. If you are being asked to do work that otherwise would have been done by someone who is on strike, you have the right to refuse it.  SPEA has directed SPEA-SE and SPEA-TT and SPEA-PD employees to refuse to perform the work of a striking colleague.  This is part of our strike action.  We have also directed SE, TT and PD employees NOT to train other employees/contractors/management in order that they may perform struck work. 


We know that the employer has put out disinformation about all of this and is pressuring employees to perform struck work.  We are submitting a Unfair Labour Practice Complaint to the Canada Labour Board about the company’s disinformation and threats.  We have lawfully instructed employees not to perform the work of an employee who is on strike – not to “step in their shoes”, so to speak.  And this would apply to doing some or all of their work.  We understand it may sometimes be difficult to know if the work someone is being asked to perform is “struck work” so we encourage anyone who is unsure to reach out to the union for clarification – text Michelle Duncan – 416-427-3525; Mark Chudak: 416-697-7456; or Denise Coombs 647-390-6300.


If you are being asked to perform struck work, you can send an email or say the following to your manager:


I’m sorry, I believe this is struck work and my union has ordered me not to perform struck work.  My union has declared that this would be scabbing and I may be expelled from the union for doing it.  The law protects my right to refuse struck work.  This is the relevant section of the Canada Labour Code:


Section 94(3)(c):  No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall 


(c) suspend, discharge or impose any financial or other penalty on an employee, or take any other disciplinary action against an employee, by reason of their refusal to perform all or some of the duties and responsibilities of another employee who is participating in a strike or subject to a lockout that is not prohibited by this Part; 

Members should contact us (above cell #s) if this is happening for assistance.


Mandatory Return to the Office (RTO) – Using Employees’ lives as Bargaining Chips:

We understand the first RTO Day was not so productive for many employees.  IT is fielding more than 80 requests for monitors and docking stations.  On the bright side, it was good to see many faces we hadn’t seen for a while and we hope members enjoyed the barbecue.  We have been fielding numerous media enquiries about the mandatory RTO with one business day’s notice.  

Here’s a link to a story published this afternoon in the Financial Post. https://financialpost.com/fp-work/candu-energy-workers-union-alleges-staff-were-ordered-back-to-office-on-one-days-notice-amid-labour-dispute


In Solidarity, 

Michelle Duncan 

On Behalf of the SPEA Executive


Collective Bargaining Update

June 4, 2022


This message is similar to the message sent late yesterday to your work emails, but we have added more details.


For everyone:  Monday is Green Shirt Day.  Try to find a green shirt to wear (or a ribbon or marker of some kind)) if you are coming to the office on Monday.  This will allow us to identify you as SPEA when you are coming in to the parking lot.


For SE, TT and PD only please don’t forget to fill out the picketing information:  add link


Now, regarding the RTO (return to the office) dictate (this applies to everyone):


Although not mentioned in the employer’s notices, “exceptions” are being granted to Bill’s dictate.  It is important that you reach out to your manager on this.  Email is fine.  The employer should not be forcing you to use vacation or unpaid leave if you are unable to come to the office, given the completely unreasonable timeline they have provided to RTO.  


We will be challenging the legalities of this move at the CIRB (Canada Industrial Relations Board).  It is apparent the employer has used its entire workforce as pawns in an attempt to force SPEA to agree to its offer.  Until Thursday, both sides were in agreement that any RTO would happen in September because it would take time for employees working from home to transition back.  


In the meantime, we encourage you to reach out to your manager to ask for an exception if you have circumstances that render you unable to return to the office on short notice, or if doing so may place your health at risk.    


For example, you may not have the ability to juggle family/dependant responsibilities and a commute to the office, because you didn’t know you would be called back to the office on 1 business days’ notice.  This raises human rights issues, and discrimination based on family status.  Ask your manager for an exception based on your family obligations.  This can be done through email.  You should not be forced on vacation in this circumstances, when you are perfectly able to get your work done from home.  


You may have a health condition that makes potential exposure to COVID an issue and for this reason, it is not medically advisable for you to RTO.  Let your manager know and request that you be allowed to continue working from home.  You should obtain a doctor’s note when you can.  But you shouldn’t be forced to use vacation etc., until you have provided the note.  You should be able to continue working from home and provide the note as soon as you are able to arrange an appointment.


You may have other medical issues (including mental health issues) that might be negatively impacted by a return to the office now.  Let your manager know and again, obtain a doctor’s note as soon as you are able.  You should be able to continue working from home in the meantime and not be forced to use vacation or personal days.


You may live very far away from the office, an arrangement based on your very reasonable assumption that a return to the office would not happen with 1 business day’s notice.  Make the request of your manager that you can continue to work from home.  It would be reasonable to request this arrangement until September 12, 2022. This is the date the parties had agreed in bargaining would be reasonable to allow people who were working exclusively from home to transition back to the office.


You may have COVID symptoms, in which case Peel Public Health says you should not be going into a workplace.  And a doctor won’t see you.  Let your manager know.


You may have been exposed to COVID and per Peel public health, you should not be in an office situation.   https://peelregion.ca/coronavirus/symptoms/


There are a lot of “shoulds” in the above message.  Your manager may deny your request. First line managers seem to be pretty powerless to make decisions on this. As noted, SPEA will be filing a Complaint at the CIRB (Labour Board) and we will be asking for a remedy that includes making employees “whole”.  For example, if you were forced to use vacation because you were unable to RTO on such short notice, we will ask to have the vacation reinstated.  If you were forced to take unpaid leave, we will ask you to be paid for those days you were ready and able to work from home but were unable to do so.  But you should make the request to work from home and keep us informed.  


Denise is the staff point person on this.  Please email: Denise.Coombs@spea.ca so we can keep informed about approvals and denials of these requests, and with any questions.  Please include “RTO”

In the subject line.


Collective Bargaining Update

June 3, 2022


We’ve been fielding a number of questions from concerned members.  Although not mentioned in the employer’s notices, “exceptions” are being granted to Bill’s dictate.


You are encouraged to reach out to your manager to ask for an exception if you have circumstances that render you unable to return to the office on short notice, or if doing so may place your health at risk.  There are human rights and Canada Labour Code protections that may apply.  


For example, you may not have the ability to juggle family/dependant responsibilities and a commute to the office, because you didn’t know you would be called back to the office on 1 business days’ notice.  This raises human rights issues, and discrimination based on family status.  Ask your manager for an exception based on your family obligations.


You may have a health condition that makes potential exposure to COVID an issue.  Let your manager know and request that you be allowed to continue working from home.  Obtain a doctor’s note.


You may have other medical issues (including mental health issues) that might be negatively impacted by a return to the office now.  Let your manager know and get a doctor’s note.


You may live very far away from the office, an arrangement based on your very reasonable assumption that a return to the office would not happen with 1 business day’s notice.  Make the request of your manager that you can continue to work from home.


You may have COVID symptoms, in which case Peel Public Health says you should not be going into a workplace.  And a doctor won’t see you.  Let your manager know.


You may have been exposed to COVID and per Peel public health, you should not be in an office situation.   https://peelregion.ca/coronavirus/symptoms/



Please also keep us informed by emailing Denise.Coombs@spea.ca


Collective Bargaining Update

June 3, 2022


Dear Members,


A quick update following yesterday’s dictate by Bill Fox that employees return to work – either to force SPEA to accept the employer’s offer, or to punish members for supporting SPEA, or both. Whatever the motivation, the “senior leadership team” is clearly not promoting a Culture of Excellence.


Many of you are suggesting we take members out on strike on Monday. We will be holding membership meetings today to discuss future plans. We can’t be explicit because surprise is part of the strategy. At this point, assume you are coming in. And check your emails frequently.  


Please be sure to let us know, if you haven’t already, about whether you are on or soon plan to be on sick leave.  Also, let us know if you have vacation plans over the next month. Email aimin.shahid@spea.ca with this information.


Please fill out the attacked link, indicating your picket preferences/limitations. This is part of our planning process. We plan to be responsive and sensitive to people’s family lives etc. as we plan potential picketing.  


Here’s the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/strikeavail


As we noted yesterday, the Canada Labour Code provides all employees with three paid “personal leave days” per year.  This is the minimum standard you are all entitled to, with or without a collective agreement.  The employer’s requirement of a sick note if you are absent for a single day contravenes the law and the company’s policy.  The Code states the following about documentation to support paid personal leave.  Section 206.6(4):  

The employer may, in writing and no later than 15 days after an employee’s return to work, request that the employee provide documentation to support the reasons for the leave. The employee shall provide that documentation only if it is reasonably practicable for them to obtain and provide it.

Also a reminder, the below entitlement applies under the Code for up to three paid leave days (plus two unpaid):


(a) treating their illness or injury;

(b) carrying out responsibilities related to the health or care of any of their family members;

(c) carrying out responsibilities related to the education of any of their family members who are under 18 years of age;

(d) addressing any urgent matter concerning themselves or their family members;


Finally, please look out for and support each other. We know this situation is very stressful for many people. The Company is trying to divide and conquer. We win when we stay strong together. All 4 One.


In Solidarity, 

Michelle Duncan

On Behalf of the SPEA Executive


Collective Bargaining Update
​​​​​​​June 1, 2022


Dear Members, 


Below is an update on our strike action; a bargaining update; and an update on the legalities around strike action, in response to the employer’s disinformation on this topic. 


We have had a successful four days of selective striking so far.  On Sunday we pulled members out of TMO and FARO and the cleanroom at RFR.  On Monday we pulled SE and TT Radiation Protection staff from Sheridan Park.  Today we pulled the members scheduled to perform the Calandria Vessel Inspection at MCR.  Today we pulled Bruce MCR Debris Removal, and Thomas Zimmer brought back fond memories of the 2012 strike by hosting a delicious barbecue outside the SPEA office. We’ve got more planned but as we’ve explained, can’t publicize our strategy.   


We held an informal meeting with management yesterday afternoon at their request to hear their concerns around site work and their difficulties attracting employees to go to site.  We took their feedback and requested a meeting early this morning to present a revised proposal (attached).  You can also see a summary in the below chart. 


Our meeting this morning seemed productive.  However, the employer is not able to provide feedback until tomorrow, we are told. Perhaps they were busy curating the messages generated on “Have you asked your union…?” We appreciated our members support.  Several called out the company’s hypocrisy:  Listing the SPEA Executive for questions but not the management bargaining committee members.  


When we returned to the office, we discovered that the Company has been misinforming managers about our members’ legal right to refuse to perform struck work. A reminder from yesterday’s message: 


As you know, SPEA is now engaged in lawful strategic strikes.  SPEA-SE, SPEA-TT and SPEA-PD employees must NOT perform struck work.  In addition to directing SPEA-SE, TT and PD employees not to perform struck work, we direct the following, which is a form of legal strike action: 


SPEA-SE, TT and PD employees must not train replacement workers (whether they are contractors, employees of another company, Candu management, etc.) to perform stuck work of any bargaining unit 

SPEA-SE, TT and PD employees must not do anything that would assist the company’s use of replacement workers (i.e. scab labour) to perform struck work of any bargaining unit 


We have informed management about our directives.  Employees are protected by law from any form of retaliation for exercising our right to take strike action. 


The employer has sent a message to managers which we can only assume is deliberately misinforming them about the law.  Among other things, they say that because this is not a “full strike” the right to refuse struck work doesn’t exist.  This, quite simply is not true, and their labour relations’ professionals must know this.  On this point, here’s what section 97(3)(c) of the Code says: 

Section 94(3)(c):  No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall 

(c) suspend, discharge or impose any financial or other penalty on an employee, or take any other disciplinary action against an employee, by reason of their refusal to perform all or some of the duties and responsibilities of another employee who is participating in a strike or subject to a lockout that is not prohibited by this Part; 

Our members’ right to refuse extends beyond directly performing “struck work” to also refusing training replacement workers or helping the company to use replacement workers.  This is because we have declared these activities to be part of our strike action.  And we are in a legal strike position (SE, TT and PD).   

Strike action is Defined very broadly in the Code (section 3): 

“strike” includes a cessation of work or a refusal to work or to continue to work by employees, in combination, in concert or in accordance with a common understanding, and a slowdown of work or other concerted activity on the part of employees in relation to their work that is designed to restrict or limit output” 

The type of selective strike action we are doing may not be very common, but it is absolutely recognized as legitimate strike action. 

We are very disappointed that the Company is spreading this kind of disinformation.  So much for the Code of Ethics.  Please contact Denise.Coombs@spea.ca if you have any questions or concerns about this. 

Below is the summary including what we proposed today (3rd column): 


  

SPEA Final Pre-Strike Action Offer  

May 29, 2022                         

  

Article 

Employer’s Final Offer May 28, 2022 @7:30PM 

SPEA Counteroffer May 29, 2022 @ 12:30am 

SPEA Additional Proposals/Ideas Presented to Company June 1 


1. Article 6 – SPEA Activity  


Employer’s Final Offer May 28, 2022 @7:30PM  

Not in agreement with SPEA’s language changes regarding our right to email members and our promise to maintain confidentiality of information 

Side Letter (not in CA) 


SPEA Counteroffer May 29, 2022 @ 12:30am 

SPEA has filed a Complaint at the CIRB in connection with the employer’s blocking of all emails between SPEA and its members and prohibiting employees from emailing SPEA. If the Board finds that the employer’s action was a breach of the Code, the employer agrees to fully reinstate SPEA’s email access (which must be reasonable).  


SPEA Additional Proposals/Ideas Presented to Company June 1

Note: We had sought collective agreement language guaranteeing our longstanding practice of emailing members at work.  In return, we offered to drop our Complaint at the Labour Board (CIRB). We are very confident we will win that case and had hoped to avoid lengthy and costly litigation with this proposal.  The employer disagreed with our proposal, so in an effort to get a deal, we dropped it and proposed this agreement instead. 

Same  


2. 11.04 Transfers Involving Change of Domicile  


Employer’s Final Offer May 28, 2022 @7:30PM  

All transfers or reassignments requiring a change of domicile shall be voluntary if the duration is greater than three (3) six (6) months. All transfers or reassignment, regardless of the length shall be deemed protected from any layoff for the duration of their transfer or reassignment and such protection shall not be included in the number of protects provided for in Article 22.02.  Where an employee refuses such a transfer or reassignment and the employee’s current position no longer exists, Article 22 (redeployment or layoff) will apply. For clarity, such employees may be eligible for assignment conditions. 

  


SPEA Counteroffer May 29, 2022 @ 12:30am 

All transfers or reassignments requiring a change of domicile shall be voluntary if the duration is greater than three (3)) four (4) months. Where an employee refuses such a transfer or reassignment and the employee’s current position no longer exists, Article 22 (redeployment or layoff) will apply. For clarity, such employees may be eligible for assignment conditions.  


SPEA Additional Proposals/Ideas Presented to Company June 1

Note: The employer has moved (only after our strike notice was issued) from its initial position of eighteen months to six months.  This proposal allows the employer to force an employee to move for work for up to six months.  They say that they have added a “sweetener” in that such employee would be “protected” from layoff.  This provision would allow the company to threaten employees with layoff if they don’t go to site.   Those who happily work at site may not think this is a big deal.  But if the employer can force employees to go to site, they will have no reason to “sweeten” the deal for site work with decent compensation.   

  

Maintain our position on 11.04 (no forced transfer beyond 4 months) 

No to “super seniority” for those on site assignment 

Proposed addition to layoff language to address concerns (hypothetical at this point) about a situation in which there is work in a given skill or discipline at a site, but a shortage of work in that same skill/discipline at Sheridan Park. (attached “A.1”) 

Proposed that new hires may be assigned to site work in the first year for longer than 4 months by the employer. In other words,   Article 11.04 (no forced relocation beyond 4 months) is not applicable in the first year 

Financial incentives for site work proposed (attached A.3; A.4)   


3. Article 12 – Group Insurance Plans  


Employer’s Final Offer May 28, 2022 @7:30PM  

No Increase for Vision maximum coverage 


SPEA Counteroffer May 29, 2022 @ 12:30am 

9) Increase vision in Base and Buy Up and Buy Different by $100  

Note:  In the company’s CWBRC presentation (March 30, 2022), there were 680 vision claims in the prior year. Of these, 410 hit the cap. Even if we assume every claim would have used the proposed extra $100, it would only cost $68,000 per year, of which the company pays 75%. This cost is based on company-wide data. 


SPEA Additional Proposals/Ideas Presented to Company June 1

As we’ve said before, many of our benefits haven’t seen any improvements since 1999.  We proposed reasonable benefit improvements .  The employer’s offer mainly increases benefits in the lesser used plans rather than the base plan.  We substantially reduced our “ask” yesterday, in an effort to get a deal, to an increase in vision by $100 (base, buy up and buy different plans).   

  

Same 


4  Article 19 – HOURS OF WORK  

  

Day Shift : $2.00 

Night: $3.50 

Day Shift : $2.25 

Night: $5.00 

Note: Before SPEA issued strike notice, the employer’s position was to remove the day shift premium altogether (it is currently $2) and to increase the night shift premium to $6 (currently it is $2.50.  While we were pleased with the increase to the night shift premium, it was mean-spirited at best to do so at the expense of those who work day shifts.  It was especially mean-spirited given the fact that day shift workers have been working at site or Sheridan Park throughout the pandemic while many of us were able to work from home.   Not a very nice way to thank our “essential workers”.     

Same 

Letter of Understanding: Working From Home (WFH) 

  

4.       Employees may work remotely from home for up to two days per week.  This maximum may be increased in the future by the Employer, at is sole discretion. 

  

4. Employees may work remotely from home for up to fifty percent of the time. This maximum may be increased by the Employer, at its sole discretion.  To be clear, the WFH schedule for WFH is made by manager with employee  

Note: The company’s position on working from home is baffling, given SNC Lavalin’s overall approach of allowing and encouraging flexible work where operationally feasible.  CNL has a flexible work policy (including fully remote working) and it is managed by SNC.  We know other SNC divisions offer very flexible options.  We have been proposing three days per week where operationally feasible with the possibility of more days, but at the employer’s sole discretion.  The employer is stuck at an absolute maximum of two days, though their last offer suggests that this maximum may be increased at some future date at the employer’s sole discretion.  In order to try to get a deal this morning, we proposed 50% work from home model (where operationally feasible).  Again, with the possibility of more at the employer’s sole discretion.  This was rejected.   

  

It seems to us that Candu is being treated differently from other SNC divisions simply because we are unionized. 

  

Proposed revisions are minor: Still at 50% (or more at management’s discretion) where operationally feasible.   

Proposed review after one year and arbitration if we can’t agree.  Arbitrator can’t rule anything less than 2 days (again, subject to operational requirements).  Language attached (“B) 


ARTICLE 20 – SALARIES  

  

For the period January 1, 2022 to February 28, 2023, the PG salary scales shall be adjusted by 3.75%. Then, based on CPI in prior year with following minimums and caps: 

                     March 1, 2023 – min 3.0% - max 5.0% 

March 1, 2024 – min 2.5% - max 4.0% 

March 1, 2025 – min 1.5% - max 3.5% 

March 1, 2026 – min 1.0% - max 3.0% 

  

For the period January 1, 2022 to February 28, 2023, the PG salary scales shall be adjusted by 4.25%Then, based on CPI in prior year with following minimums and caps: 

                        March 1, 2023 – Agree 

                        March 1, 2024 – Agree 

                        March 1, 2025 – Agree 

                        March 1, 2026 – min 1.50% - max 3.50%  

  

Same 

22.09   Project Hires and Project Sites 

  

22.09    Project Hires and Project Sites 

  

(a)  Project Hires 

  

Project Hires will be hired to augment resources supplied to a Project Site from Sheridan Park. Project Hires may not be covered by Project Assignment Conditions.  

      Any new Project Hire, living further than 90km from the project site will be provided with the relocation allowance stipulated in the Letter of Understanding (Permanent Relocation – Domestic) with sufficient proof of relocation and residency information. 

Accept ER language, plus LOU for current employees: 

  

LOU 

  

Current Local Hires to be assessed, based on residence at time of hire.  If greater than 90 KM from the hiring location – these employees to be designated Sheridan Park hires, effective date of ratification.  Employer agreement to revise hiring letters to “local project hires” to clarify the entitlements.    

  

  

Same with some language revisions for new hire Project Hires. 



  

Domestic Commuter Assignment Conditions 

  

  

Increase the maximum total entitlement from “$200” per day to “$235” per day (effective September 15, 2022). 

  

2) Increase the maximum total entitlement from “$200” per day to $265 per day (effective September 15, 2022). 

  

Note: The employer’s proposal included tolls in the above cap. This is how the employer has been applying the DCACs but it is contrary to the agreement and we have grieved. We accepted the concept of including tolls in the cap, but with a significant increase in the cap. 

Same 

10 

Statutory Holiday Pay Calculation for Employees on shift (Averaging Agreement)  

  

Refuses to acknowledge the practice for calculating holiday pay for employees on shift 

9. For clarity, statutory holiday pay calculation for employees subject to this agreement will be based on the average number of hours worked per shift over the preceding 20 shifts. 

Note: We are simply trying to guarantee the past practice regarding stat holiday pay calculation for employees on shift, because in recent years employees in some groups have not known about this calculation and have only claimed 7.5 hrs 

Same 

  

We will continue to keep you posted. 


In solidarity, 

The SPEA Executive 


Strike Notice

May 26, 2022


Mr. Steve Shemluck

VP-Labour Relations

Candu Energy Inc.


Dear Mr. Shemluck,


This strike notice replaces the below notice, which did not include the date and time of strike action initiation.


We are writing to provide notice of strike action in accordance with section 87.2 of the Canada Labour Code. This Notice relates to the SPEA-SE and SPEA-TT bargaining units. We plan to commence strike action on May 29th at 11:30am EST. 


SPEA remains committed to meeting with the employer with a view to negotiating fair and reasonable collective bargaining agreements and regrets that this step must be taken to achieve that result. 


Yours Sincerely, 

Denise Coombs 

On behalf of the SPEA Executive 


PREVIOUS EMAIL: 

Dear Mr. Shemluck: 


SPEA hereby provides 72 hours' Notice of strike action in accordance with section 87.2 of the Canada Labour Code. This Notice relates to the SPEA-SE and SPEA-TT bargaining units. 


SPEA remains committed to meeting with the employer with a view to negotiating fair and reasonable collective bargaining agreements and regrets that this step must be taken to achieve that result. 


Yours Sincerely, 

Denise Coombs 

On behalf of the SPEA Executive 


Collective Bargaining Update

May 25, 2022


Dear Members,


A reminder to be sure to vote before midnight tonight. If you did not receive a ballot to your personal email, please email cro@spea.ca.  


As predicted, the employer has been very busy bombarding members with messages/posts/videos and there is a great deal of misinformation out there. We encourage you to focus on what’s on (or not on) the table.  


Our lengthy May 23rd message is still accurate in terms of each side’s position at the table.* Below are some key points, and the number references are to the more detailed summaries in our May 23 message (below).


1. Comparisons to OPG etc. on scale are not helpful. OPG is subject to a maximum 1% increase by provincial legislation. But, their salaries, benefits, pension etc. are far superior to ours. We would recommend accepting 1% scale if the employer switched all of our other terms and conditions of employment to OPG’s.  


2. The employer has moved on scale, with better inflation protection than previously offered (#1 below).  But it is still not sufficient and there are so many other important outstanding issues, including:


a. Employer proposal to get rid of the day shift premium (#9)

b. Benefit enhancements that largely ignore the majority of employees in the “base” plan (#3). The employer is also seeking to remove benefit entitlements from our collective agreement, so SNC can reduce them in future without SPEA’s consent. We can predict what will happen to benefits next time SNC corporate  is in “cost cutting” mode, if we agree to this.

c. A two-tier pension plan (#7) & two-tier “Local Hires” (#8)

d. Maximum 2 days working from home (#5) – other SNC divisions, including CNL, offer much more flexibility.

e. Employer still seeking the ability to force employees to relocate for up to 9 months (#6)

f. Employer position on travel related compensation and assignment conditions (#10-16) – amounts offered far short of inflationary increases since 2017 and no future inflation protection on the table.

g. The employer is unwilling to agree to anything that might reverse its assaults on SPEA – including the email ban, and their accelerated campaign to create “fake managers” (#4)


*There is a small change to #8 below  – distance from site for “Local Hire” increased from 75 to 90KM.  


The bottom line is this:  Candu Energy is highly profitable.  We are in a very strong bargaining position.  We are confident there is a better, fairer deal to be had.   A strong strike mandate is the only way to achieve that goal



Collective Bargaining Update

May 23, 2022


 Good Morning,


A quick update on our strike policy. We are working on a strike FAQ update, but wanted to let you know of the major revision to the previous policy: Given the price of gas and the reality of virtual working, the Executive has decided to lower the expected weekly picketing time from 20 hours to 14 hours. We will also be flexible in regards to individual situations (including for those who can’t picket) -  that is, if we end up on strike. We will be back at the bargaining table on Wednesday and Thursday and continue to focus on bargaining while also preparing for possible strike action.


You should have received the below detailed bargaining update yesterday at your personal email address. If you did not receive it at your personal email address, it means we don’t have the correct email address for you. And that means you won’t receive a ballot to vote to give SPEA a strike mandate. So, it is important to contact aimin.shahid@spea.ca if you did not receive a bargainingupdate email at your personal email address yesterday.


As noted in the below summary, we are concerned that the employer might be trying to exclude benefit improvements from the collective agreement. We have confirmed this is the case. Something as important as benefits must remain in a legally binding collective agreement, unchangeable unless the union specifically agrees.    


We expect the employer’s campaign to influence our vote to intensify today and tomorrow. They are devoting a lot of resources to misleading our members. Just now we see they are falsely alleging that we were not accurate in our explanation of their offer, when we stated that monetary increases (including scale) would not take effect until September. We did make that statement in our May 18th message and it was accurate. Below is what the employer’s May 18th offer stated at page 2 (also attached for your reference): Monetary changes to be effective September 2022 unless otherwise stated. Their scale increase description (at page 15 of the attached offer) did not state that scale increases would be effective January 1s instead of September, 2022.  

  

We accurately communicated their offer and will continue to do so. The employer’s May 20th offer changed to include retroactive scale. And this is what we reported in our summary of yesterday (item #1, below).  


The Employer is tabling a full comprehensive package to the Union.  All amendments shall apply to all 3 collective agreements unless otherwise stated.

The Employer is only responding to those outstanding items that they are able to agree to as part of this full comprehensive package.  All other items previously agreed to are not included in this comprehensive offer but shall form part of the final settlement.  

Only language that is being altered is included in this comprehensive package.  All other language not included and not previously agreed to remains unchanged (status quo) pursuant to the expiring collective agreement(s).

All monetary changes below shall become effective on the first pay issued in September 2022, following the date of ratification, unless otherwise stated.  

All other items not included in this package are considered withdrawn without prejudice to any future position taken during this round of bargaining. 

If any portion of the package is not agreeable, the entire package becomes unagreed and considered null and void.

Any item not already agreed to and signed off does not form part of this package, unless otherwise included in this package.  

The Employer reserves the right to change elements of the package, in full and/or part, in the future, including the addition of other items not included in this package.  

All language below includes text that is both bolded and struck through.  The bolded text represents new proposed language (unbolded represents current language) and struck through text represents deleted language.  

For context, the Employer has included notes in this document (in text box) to better explain the proposal but those notes will not form part of the collective agreements. 


We know our members are smart enough to understand what is going on. If you have questions, or are confused about the messaging, please contact your CAR, Executive Member, or staff (michelle.duncan@spea.ca; Denise.Coombs@spea.ca).


In Solidarity, 

Michelle Duncan

SPEA Staff, on behalf of the SPEA Executive 


Collective Bargaining Update 13

May 22, 2022


Dear Members,


As you know, our strike vote is scheduled for May 25th.  Below is a summary of current outstanding issues in bargaining, where each side stands, and discussion.  Also attached are the two most recent offers.


The employer’s offer is their “Best and Comprehensive Offer to Settle”.  The title really should be, “Current Pre-Strike Vote Best and Comprehensive Offer to Settle”.  


We expect they will provide another “Best and Comprehensive Offer” before our vote in an attempt at last minute disruption.  And we know there will be more on the table if we receive a strong strike mandate on Wednesday.


Here are a few things to remember:  Candu Energy is a highly profitable company.  Candu is engaging in hard bargaining.  Rational and collaborative discussion does not work with this current leadership. We will only obtain the agreement our members are willing to fight for.  And, based on work now and in the near future, we are in a very strong bargaining position to obtain the fair collective agreement our members deserve.    


The employer’s last offer is an attempt to entice us with moves on scale increases, with some disinformation thrown in for good measure (conflating scale and merit to make their offer look better).


Again, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the same before the vote.  But remember, there is so much outstanding, including:  Virtual working, two tier pension, inadequate travel/Assignment Conditions (with no inflation protection), etc.  


If you have any questions, please reach out to an Executive Member or staff.


1. Scale Increases & Inflationary Protection


SPEA Position:  Jan 1, 2022 – 6%; Jan 1, 2023 – 4.5%; Jan 1, 2024 – 4%

Ø  Inflation Protection:  Kicks in if inflation in the previous year is 2% or more greater that the above rates; and provides for half the difference.  

Ø  For example, if the CPI for the previous year is 6% and the scale increase for the current year is 4 %, the COLA adjustment will be 1% in addition to the 4% scale increase. (6% - 4% = 2%; 2% divided by 2 = 1%).  

Ø  Adjustment based on CPI increase for Ontario (All items, 1962 = 100) – Article 20.01(d)

Article 20, pp 23-23


Employer Position:  

Ø  Jan 1, 2022 – 3.4%, plus .25% to compensate for the fact that the next increase takes place March 1, 2023, for a total of 3.65%

Ø  March 1, 2023 – Based entirely on CPI (inflation) in 2022, subject to a 4.5% cap.

Ø  March 1, 2024, 2025, 2026 – Based entirely on CPI (inflation) in the year before, subject to a 3.5% cap (minimum of .5%).


Discussion:  The company has moved in the right direction, but they are not where they need to be yet.  We know that inflation in 2021 for Ontario was 5.18% (December 2020 to December 2021), while our scale increases were 2.25% in 2021.


We know that inflation in Ontario for 2022 is projected to be around 6%. The employer has offered 3.4% effective January 1, 2022 (plus .25%, but this is to compensate for the fact that we won’t receive scale increases until March of 2023).


In addition, they have proposed caps of 4.5% in 2023 and 3.5% thereafter, with a minimum increase of .5%.  It is extremely unlikely that inflation will dip below .5% in the coming years, but it is very possible that it will exceed 4.5%.


We prefer the hybrid model we have proposed, which provides employees with some degree of certainty about their future scale increases, alongside some inflationary protection. 


Finally, the inflationary measure proposed by the Company is based on Canada-wide inflation statistics.  SPEA proposes using Ontario statistics.  Inflation is generally higher in Ontario than Canada-wide, and this is where we live and work.


2. Merit Pay

Currently, and for many years, the “merit pool” has been 1.5%.  In their analysis of their offer, the company has included the average merit raise in an attempt to make it look like they are offering 1.5 % more then they actually are.  Merit is not to adjust for cost of living, it is to recognize the increased value an employee brings to the company with experience.  Merit is intended to be cost neutral to the company as senior employees retire and are replaced with younger, lower paid employees.


3. Benefits

SPEA Position:  The following enhancements, effective September 1, 2022, for all Plan options:

                

Vision Care – Increase maximum amounts across all four plans by 20%


Dental – Major Restorative

Increase annual maximum by 20%

Include coverage for implants


Dental – Orthodontia – Increase maximum by 20%


Paramedical Services

Increase maximum amounts across all four plan options by 20%.

Remove per visit caps (currently apply to psychologist/social workers and speech therapy under the Base Option)

Include psychotherapist coverage, alongside psychologists and social workers

Article 12.01, p 6


Employer Position:  The following enhancements, effective January 1, 2023. The employer states these changes will not be included in the collective agreement, which likely means the employer is seeking the ability to change them unilaterally (we are seeking clarification).  Also, other than implants and the removal of the per visit caps under paramedical, there are no improvements to the base plan, in which most of our members are enrolled:


Increase the Buy Different Plan maximum for Paramedical Services from $1,000 annually to $1,250 annually.

Increase the Buy Up Plan maximum for Paramedical Services from $1,500 annually to $1,750 annually.

Increase the Buy Different Plan Dental Maximum from $1,250 annually to $1,500 annually.

Increase the Buy Up Plan Dental Maximum from $1,250 annually to $1,500 annually.

Remove the $20 per visit cap on Psychologist visit under the Base Plan.

Include coverage for implants under the Base, Buy Different and Buy Up Dental Plan.

Include Social Workers and Psychotherapists into all 4 Plans.


Discussion: SPEA benefits have mostly been the same since 1999 or earlier.  In 2006, we negotiated improvements to vision care (increased to $500); chiropractic (increased to $400) and massage therapy (increased to $400) under the base plan, which was the only plan at that time.  Effective April 1, 2008, orthodontia was introduced at its current amounts.


Our benefits are inferior to comparable companies, and it doesn’t take a market analysis to show that inflation has eaten away at entitlements that are monetarily based.  


The employer has engaged in a fair bit of disinformation on this issue.  Contrary to their claims, the analysis they shared with us said absolutely nothing about the level of our benefits compared to other employers (it just showed how the benefits are divided up by categories – in other words, how the pie is divided, not the size of the pie).  They claim to have a 2016 analysis that is more detailed and compares “the size of the pie”.  But they refuse to share that with us.  So, we give it no weight, and neither should you.


The employer says improvements should happen through the CWBRC (benefits committee), after bargaining.  The problem with that idea is the employer doesn’t have to agree to anything at the CWBRC.  Benefit improvements must be negotiated and included in our collective agreements. If not, the employer can change benefits whenever they want.


4. Union Strength & Your Future

SPEA Position: SPEA has proposed language to reverse the employer’s decision to block all emails between employees and SPEA.  The employer has also deemed all internal documents “internal use only” and have taken the position that all such communications (even if they directly relate to employment issues) cannot be shared with SPEA.  This includes their bargaining updates.


In the past SPEA staff signed NDAs and have offered to renew the recently expired NDAs.  The employer is non-responsive since their real goal is to starve the union of the information we need to properly represent our members. To be clear, SPEA has only ever been interested in documents related to grievances and labour board issues like org charts, job descriptions, postings, etc.  In our public campaigns, such as SNCInsight, we only utilize publicly available information.


On jurisdiction, we have also proposed language that would require the employer to inform us of new excluded positions, especially in management and to provide a rationale for their exclusion.

                                Article 1, p 6


Employer Position:  No.  On jurisdiction, they have proposed an LOU to obtain an arbitrator’s view on the lines between the SE, TT, PD and OA bargaining units.  With nothing on the most vexing issue – low level “management” positions.  They have also proposed troubling changes to the SE Performance Grade Guidelines which we are concerned may impact the SE’s jurisdiction and allow them to move more work from SE to OA.   Employer’s Proposal Performance Grade Guidelines, p 29; LOU p 41


Discussion:  The employer’s actions under the new leadership (post Preston Swafford) are specifically designed to weaken SPEA.  These actions include Labour Relations’ practice of ignoring emails and grievances. The number of management positions (percentage wise) has approximately doubled since SNC took over, accelerated over the past few years.  It seems every time we turn around, a new “project manager” position has been created.  The employer has quibbled with our figures, but again, won’t share the data to back up their position (They say managerial exclusions are at 17% - which is still way to high and well over the 10% in 2011).


We have won two major and costly arbitration awards on the “managerial” exclusion issue.  The employer ignores the law and continues to churn out fake manager jobs outside our bargaining units.


The employer’s proposed LOU ignores the “managerial” issue and focuses only on the problem between bargaining units:  Where the employer has been improperly placing engineers and other professionals in the OA bargaining unit, at lower salaries.  


You may wonder why you should care about all of this.  You should care because what stands between you and significantly inferior terms and conditions of employment is a strong union.  SLN transferees know this.  When they transferred from non-union SLN to SPEA, they saw significant improvements to: pension, benefits, sick leave entitlements, salaries (in many cases, salaries were significantly increased), salary increases, vacation, etc.   You should care because career advancement opportunities are increasingly closed off to those who seek more challenging and remunerative positions while remaining within SPEA.  


5. Working From Home

SPEA Position:  Ability to work from home based on operational requirements and employee preferences, up to 3 days per week.  Employees may also work from home beyond 3 days per week, but the employer would have greater discretion to say “no” to such a request.

                                Article 19.07, p 18


Employer Position: Unchanged.  Employer “sole discretion” to determine any ability to work from home.  And in no circumstances can an employee work from home more than two days per week. They now state they will endeavour to replace desktop stations with laptops

                                Article 19.007, p 13


Discussion:  Most members have told us loud and clear that they wish to work from home at least half the time.  “Post” pandemic, employers’ responses to returning to the office have been variable. SNC runs Chalk River (CNL).  At CNL, the employer agreed to a very flexible policy which provides for the possibility of 100% remote work.  Other SNC divisions are also promoting flexible work, rather than the 2-day maximum offered by Candu.  SNC as a whole is promoting and implementing flexible work for employees.  Why is the unionised division of Candu being treated differently?


Our employer has said productivity has not been negatively affected by working from home.  We believe it is in everyone’s interest to be more flexible. The employer’s absolute cap of 2 days per week working from home is too inflexible and we suspect most managers would agree with us on this.

                                Article 19.07, p. 13

                

6. Forced Relocation

SPEA Position:  No change to current language, which states that employees cannot be forced to move to sites for greater than 3 months.

                                Article 1.07 of current collective agreements


Employer Position:  Employee can be forced to move for up to 9 months (down from the previous proposal of 18 months).  

                                

Discussion: We asked for evidence that the current situation was harming the business. Beyond a couple of individual examples, the employer was unable to provide any.  We understand the employer would like to be able to force “labour” to move wherever and whenever they would like.  


But employees are also human beings, with families, friends and lives tied to their current residences.  The employer should not be allowed to force employees to upend their lives and families on threat of losing their jobs.  Giving them this power will also put downward pressure on Assignment Conditions compensation, since they will have the power to force employees to relocate to sites.



7. Two Tier Pension Plan

SPEA Position: CAAT Pension Plan with the following employer and employee contributions.  Employer contributions are unchanged from the current collective agreement.  The Plan will not change the employer contribution level, but newer employees will contribute less than currently because employees cannot pay more than employers under this type of plan:


Years of Service        Employee Contribution         Company Contribution

0 – 2 years                          6.5%                                         6.5%

2 – 5 years                           8%                                            8%

5 + years                             8%                                            10%


                                Article 13, p 7


Employer Position: Agreement to move to CAAT, but only if we accept a two-tier plan, in which new hires will forever receive less (and contribute more) after 5 years’ service.  The employer will pay .5% more than currently for the first two years, which doesn’t come close to the losses they will incur over their career.  

                

                Current Employees         

Years of Service                  Employee Contribution.            Employer Contribution

0 – 2 completed years                     8%                                             6.5%

Start of 3 – 5 completed years        8%                                              8%

Start of 6 years +                             8%                                             10%



New Hires

Years of Service                Employee Contribution             Employer Contribution

0 – 2 completed years                     7%                                            7%

Start of 3 – 5 completed years        8%*                                           8%

Start of 6 years +                             9%*                                           9%

                                *voluntary Employee contributions with match from Employer


Discussion: Our proposal is cost neutral to the employer.  Their claim that this plan will require them to hire an additional employee is simply not true, although there will of course be additional resources required in the short term to switch from CERI to CAAT.  And unlike traditional Defined Benefit Plans which many in the nuclear industry enjoy, the employer incurs no additional liabilities with this Plan.


The employer knows our members voted overwhelmingly in favour of moving to this Plan.  Because we want it, they seek to wrest a significant concession that will be felt by new hires, not current employees.  


We are strongly opposed to two-tiering for two reasons:  First, it is a question of basic justice and fairness.  Young people (which most new hires are) already face significant economic challenges compared to their “elders”.  We don’t want to let them down, even if they aren’t currently our members.   


Secondly, opposing two-tiering is in our current members’ long-term interests.  Once we accept inferior conditions for new hires, we can be assured, over time, they won’t stand up to support maintaining the superior conditions from which they don’t benefit.  In other words, expect to see a decline in employer contributions for everyone down the road.


8. Two Tier #2  - “Site Hires”

SPEA Position:  Employees hired to work at site should be entitled to the same travel compensation (assignment conditions) as the “Sheridan Park” hires who they work alongside, if their residence at time of hire was far from the site (at least 75 KM away).

                                Article 22.09, p 29


Employer Position: No


Discussion:  In 2017, SPEA agreed to collective agreement language allowing the employer to hire locally.  These “Local Project Hires” would not be entitled to assignment conditions for travel to their home office.  At the time, we thought (as the title suggests) these would be employees hired locally to work at the Bruce or Darlington.  It seemed fair that these locally based employees are not entitled to Assignment Conditions.


What has happened in practice is that almost all of these local hires were not, in fact “local”.  They have faced either very long commutes with no compensation, or, with the costs of renting apartments in the vicinity of their workplace.  But unlike the majority of their SPEA colleagues at sites, they receive nothing to compensate for their expenses.  If they asked during hiring, these employees were told “there is no compensation” for travel.  None were told that they would be working alongside colleagues in the same situation who were compensated for their travel/apartment related expenses.


We would like to correct the language so “Local Project Hires” truly are those who are Local.  


The current practice regarding “Local Project Hires” is another example of “two tiering”, where new hires, mostly younger, receive considerably less than their older colleagues.  The same considerations mentioned above concerning pension apply here:  This is a fairness and equity issue.  And also, it is in our current members’ long-term interests to resist.  


9. Shift Premiums, Shifts and Compressed Work Week

SPEA Position (Premium): Increase day premium from $2.00 to $2.75.  Increase night shift premium from $2.50 to $6.50

                                Article 19.03, p 16


Employer Position (Premium): Remove the day shift premium which many employees currently receive. Increase night shift premium to $6.00.

                        Article 19.03, p 12


SPEA Position (Stat Holiday Pay): Codify practice that statutory holiday pay is based on average hours worked over past 20 shifts.  Also, provide for holiday pay overtime entitlements for those whose shift begins or ends on a holiday (only once per holiday)

                                Article 19.03(q), p 17


Employer Position: No

                        

SPEA Position (Compressed Work Week):  Clarify that if a compressed work week requires a set start time, it is a shift (this is the case already, based on shift language).  Provide for the above calculation (holiday pay based on last 20 shifts worked) in cases where the employer has requested a compressed work week.

                                Article 19.05, p 17


Employer Position: No


Discussion:  We disagree with removing the day shift premium from employees.  The shift requirement, to be at work at a specific time and place, represents the loss of flexibility most employees enjoy.  We don’t understand the employer’s refusal to clarify/codify the calculation of holiday pay for those on shifts.  This was the mutually understood practice for years. 



10. Travel Allowance (Time)

SPEA Position:  We seek changes to how the employer calculates travel time, to ensure the actual time taken to travel to a destination is accounted for.  This is especially important for employees who travel by air to the United States.  The employer only counts flight time, with no allowance for time spent at the airport.


We proposed a 10.4% increase to all travel allowances and to the base hourly rate used to calculate allowances for destinations not stipulated in the collective agreement (from $49 to $54).  We also proposed annual inflation adjustments.

                Article 21.07 p. 25


Employer Position: The employer proposes a 5% increase to amounts, effective September 15, 2022. No inflationary adjustments.

                

Discussion:  We believe our proposal is reasonable.  Our 10.4% increase is lower than the actual inflationary increase since these numbers were set in March 2017.  Given the uncertainty around inflation, we believe it is only fair to adjust the allowances annually based on inflation in the prior year.


11. Toll Reimbursement

SPEA Position: Tolls should be reimbursed for approved business travel.

                Article 21.01, p 26


Employer Position:  Tolls must be specifically approved.  


12. Travel Meal Allowances

SPEA Position: 

            Breakfast - $15 (unchanged from current collective agreement)

            Lunch - $20 (up from $15) 

            Dinner - $45 (up from $40)

Incidentals - $11 (no receipts, which has been the practice for several years in accordance with a grievance settlement)

                Annual adjustment for inflation

                                Article 21.10, p 27


Employer Position:  Agrees to above amounts, but effective September 15, 2022.  Also, seeks to go back to receipt requirement for incidentals. No inflation protection.

                                Article 21.10, p 22


Discussion:  We are pleased the employer has matched our amounts.  But inflation protection is crucial.  And going back to a receipt requirement will render the incidental reimbursement negligible and a hassle to claim. In the past, the employer only reimbursed for a very small number of items, which led to the grievance, the settlement of which entailed moving to an allowance system.



13. Overtime Meal Allowance

SPEA Position: Increase from $15 to $20 with annual inflation adjustment.


Employer Position: No increase.


14. Relocation Policy   

SPEA Position:  We have proposed improvements to the Relocation Policy, for details refer to p 32 of our attached proposal.


Employer Position: No change


15. Domestic Assignment Conditions

SPEA Position:  Set out at page 30 of our attached proposal.  Highlights:

Remove $200 cap on DCACs; increase lunch per diem from $15 to $20; annual inflation adjustment

Adjustments to per diems, location premiums, subsistence allowances, etc., with annual inflation adjustments

Actual reimbursement for rental accommodations

p 30


Employer Position:  

Increase in location premiums and per diems, but no inflation adjustments

No change to subsistence allowance

No to paying actual, reasonable rent.  Increase Bruce “cap” to $1500 per month but nothing for Darlington

p 36


Discussion:  Working at site is difficult and intense and disrupts employees’ personal and family lives.  And site work is very profitable for the employer.  Their proposal is an insult to site workers, especially those on long term assignments.


16. International Assignment Conditions

SPEA Position:  Per the attached, tentative until we have been provided with MERCER data.  Many of the amounts are based on MERCER data and despite asking for months, this data has not been provided.


Employer Position: No change


Discussion:  International assignments bring an even higher personal cost than domestic.  The employer is proposing no change, which means a significant cut.


17. Term Employees – Premature Termination

SPEA Position: Modest increase in compensation of term employment is ended prematurely.

                                Article 24.01(b), p 30

Employer Position: No


18. Project Coordinators – MOU and lower salary scale

Employer Position: The employer seeks a lower initial salary scale for new hire SE Project Coordinators at $65,000.  

                                MOU, p 20


SPEA Position: No


19. Vacations & Banked Time

The employer seeks the ability to pay out excess vacation in 2023 and 2024.  SPEA is not opposed.  They also propose that employees must use all of their vacation time before using banked time.  


This new proposal is concessionary, since banked time accrues at the rate earned, while vacation time is paid out at an employee’s current rate of pay.  


SPEA does not agree to the employer’s proposal on banked time.

            Article 14.08 Employer Proposal, page 9; Article 21.12 Employer Proposal, p 23


20. Personal Leave Days

SPEA Position:  In 2019, the federal government enacted an entitlement to 3 paid days per year leave for employee illness (already covered by our collective agreements), as well as:

To take care of health obligations for family members or to care for them

To take care of education related obligations of a family member under 18

To manage any urgent situation concerning the employee or a family member

SPEA proposed utilizing our sick banks for the above purposes, essentially increasing the purposes for which short term sick leave credits can be used.

                Article 14.09, p 10


Employer Position: No language change.  The employer says the personal leave legislation has been repealed.


Discussion:  We can find no evidence that the legislation has been repealed, but would be willing to tie the entitlement to the ongoing applicability of the legislation.


21. Maternity/Parental Leave “Top Up”

SPEA Position:  Decrease the number of weeks of “top up” for maternity leave from 15 to 14 weeks.  Increase the number of weeks of “top up” for parental leave from 4 to 5 weeks.


Employer Position: No


Discussion:   Our proposal would not harm the typical birth mother who takes both maternity leave and some parental leave.  But it will benefit fathers, who cannot access maternity leave, by providing them with an extra week top up.  


22. Deemed Termination Clause

Employer Position:  The employer has proposed a deemed termination clause (which they call “Loss of Seniority”) which would apply in some troubling circumstances, including overstaying a leave of absence without written permission and being absent from work for three more days without notification (unless such failure is the result of circumstances beyond the employee’s control.

                                Employer Proposal, Article 22.05(c), p 27


SPEA Position: No


Discussion:  We asked the employer if there was a problem they were trying to address with this language.  There is none.  Of course, employees should return after their leave and notify of absences.  In the extremely unlikely situation they don’t do so (and none of us has ever heard of this happening), it is probably due to extreme personal or mental health circumstances.  The employer already has the right to discipline and eventually terminate an employee who doesn’t show up to work.  They don’t need this kind of hammer for a non-existent problem


Collective Bargaining Update 12

May 20, 2022


Good Afternoon,


As promised, attached is the Comprehensive Proposal tabled by the employer on Wednesday. Below are some highlights/lowlights, now that we’ve had more time to digest things. To be clear, we have not and will not accept this proposal.


1. Monetary increases (scale, merit, etc., ) not to be effective until September, 2022 (page 2). We don’t expect them to hold to this position.  In every round of bargaining with this employer, scale and merit have been fully retroactive. But this is how Candu is choosing to bargain this round. They propose something ridiculous. When they move to something more reasonable, they expect us to believe we have “gained” something.

2. Scale increase tied exclusively to the annual CPI the year before, but with a 3% cap, and the possibility for a 1% wage reduction. So, for this year, their proposal would result in a 3% scale increase, which would not come into effect until September of 2022 (page 14).  Inflation is currently 6.7% and is expected to continue to be high for the foreseeable future. Your scale increase will remain capped at 3% under their proposal.

3. Work from home a maximum of two days per week (page 12). Employer has “sole discretion” to determine if an employee can work from home on these 2 days.  Employer “sole discretion” to change the dates, end the arrangement, etc. (they will provide one month’s notice to end the arrangement).

4. The employer agreed to the CAAT Pension Plan, but only if we accept a 2 tier system for new hires. New hires’ employer contribution will be capped at 9% (current cap is 10%) and new hires will have to also contribute more (1%).  (page 6)

5. The ability to force an employee to relocate for up to eighteen months, instead of the current 3 months. (page 5)

6. Zero increase to travel allowances, per diems, etc.  Zero increases on assignment conditions – including rents, per diems, subsistence allowances, etc. You will not find any reference to these in the employer’s proposal, because they propose making no changes, and not accepting our proposed changes.

7. Elimination of Day Shift Premium, but increase to $6 for not shift premium. (page 11)

8. Minor improvements to benefits (page 6), but almost nothing for the “base plan” in which most of our members are enrolled.

9. Refusal to agree to language allowing SPEA to email our members (page 3 – Article 6). This is part of a much broader attempt to weaken the union over the past few years under the current leadership, which includes creating countless fake management positions, refusing to meet on grievances, not providing information required under our collective agreements, etc. 


Note, we have removed the employer’s “commentary” from their proposal. This commentary is not part of their proposal. It is text boxes with their “explanations” for various proposals. Those explanations are filled with inaccuracies in much the same way as their nucleus postings. We did not have time to insert a response to these statements, so we have removed them.  


We believe the employer’s proposals speaks for itself, in terms of their “hard bargaining” approach. The misinformation in their Nucleus postings is consistent with this approach. In describing their proposal, they say they have offered inflation protection, but neglect to point out the 3% cap. They say they have addressed the union’s demands on working from home, but they neglect to say there will be a 2 day maximum and permission will be at the employer’s sole discretion. We could go on.  


Today they have misrepresented what has been going on at the table. To be clear, we are available to meet virtually on the weekend to discuss any proposals. And we will be working all weekend – both on proposals and, more importantly, on organizing our members. We have been negotiating since January.  Recall, we had to file for Conciliation to force the employer to the table to seriously negotiate. We have met and discussed proposals for months now. While we are always available to meet, we know that a fair collective agreement is not going to come from discussions at the table. It will come from a strong, united and organized membership.


We are dealing with a highly profitable corporation whose main interest is in maximizing their short term profits by cutting or limiting labour costs. They will not provide a fair proposal because we ask nicely or come up with elegant arguments at the table. Candu is, overall, very busy. We know we are in a strong bargaining position.  A fair collective agreement will come only if the employer faces the pressure of a united membership willing to strike, if necessary. 


Stay tuned for further membership messages. We will be summarizing and sending out our latest proposal and will update you on any progress today and over the weekend.


In Solidarity,

The SPEA Bargaining Team


Mark Chudak, Peter Visser, Akash Gill, Greg Paulencu, Corey Martin, Sam Macri, Denise Coombs, Michelle Duncan 


Collective Bargaining Update 11

May 18, 2022


Dear Members,


We hope you are doing well.  Yesterday morning we received the employer’s comprehensive offer on bargaining.  We will be sending out the full details later but below are the main highlights (or lowlights) for you to consider if you were unable to attend any of the update meetings.  We also see that the employer posted their own summary.  Although they did not outright lie, they fail to mention some very important elements of their proposal. 


1. The employer wants to tie in scale increase to the annual CPI (Cost Performance Index, a measure of inflation or how expensive thing are) year over year for the duration of the collective agreement.  Having said that, the employer has proposed a 3% cap increase regardless if the CPI is higher next year. The CPI could be 7%, your salary would change by 3% only. The employer also presented the possibility of scale increase of -1% in future years (i.e. if we are in a deflationary situation).  The employer’s posting neglects to point out the cap.


2. Work from home would be 2 days per week maximum, changed week to week at the employer's sole discretion.  Desktop computers will not be permitted to be taken home. CADD Laptops would be available on a go forward basis but the timelines are uncertain.  The employer’s posting neglects to point out the 2-day maximum.


3. They have agreed to move to CAAT Pension Plan, but only if we accept a 2-tiered pension plan with smaller employer contributions for new employees after 6 years (7% to 9% matched by the company instead of 10% and only if the employee contributes 9%. Current employee cap is 8%). 


4. No increase to travel allowances, per diems, etc.  No change to assignment conditions – rents, per diems, subsistence allowances, etc.


5. The elimination of a day shift premiums but an increase to $6 for night shift premiums.


6. Forced relocation for up to 18-months (instead of the current 3 months).


7. Minor improvements to benefits (details to come).


8. Jurisdiction: PG/SE level descriptor changes: engineer removed from PG descriptions. These descriptions have been used to resolve disputes in favor of SPEA. Changes mean that you might not be considered to be performing engineering work.


I'm sure you will all agree that this is not good news.  I want to re-emphasize the importance of voting "YES" to a strike as well as getting as many people to vote as possible as this sends a strong message to the employer.  A weak voter turnout as well as voting “no” shows the employer you accept what they offer, making for no bargaining power. Weak mandate means we accept inferior agreements now. Inferior agreement now will only lead to more inferior agreements in the future.


Vote for a strong mandate. Stand together. Vote "YES" on May 25th. All for 1 and 1 for all.


Akashdeep Gill

SPEA CAR, SE-MAL & Bargaining Committee Member


Collective Bargaining Update 10

May 17, 2022


Dear Members,


This message is going to all bargaining units. A reminder, the OA’s collective agreement will be finalized by arbitration after bargaining for SE/TT/PD is concluded. OAs should be interested in what is going on, though, because the OA collective agreement will be impacted by what we agree to at the SE/TT/PD table.


This also means that the OAs will NOT be participating in the strike vote next Wednesday; and if there is a strike, the OAs will not be participating.  But there are many ways the OAs can help, and we will keep you posted on that.


A brief bargaining update:  We negotiated three days last week and will be at the table every day this week.  We are making more progress, but the employer still has not put any money on the table.  We have been told that they will be willing to discuss monetary items tomorrow.


We sent out the employer’s virtual working proposal to you last week and received plenty of feedback.  The employer wants everyone back at the workplace, with a maximum of two days working from home (per week), no exceptions.  We have proposed a more flexible approach, with three days at home allowed so long as it makes sense from an operational perspective; with fully remote work also a possibility at management discretion.  We believe our proposal meets the needs of both the employer and employees.  Greater flexibility will enhance both morale and retention in a tight labour market.  The employer should be concerned about these things.  And we know this is what our members want.


The employer has also provided a response on the pension. We know this is an important issue for our members.  Our vote to switch to CAAT received more than 90% support.  The employer has agreed to move to the CAAT Plan, but only if we accept a two tier system.  Currently, the employer contributes 10% to pension once an employee has six years of service.  The employer proposes a maximum contribution of 9% after 6 years for new hires, but this would require an equal contribution of 9% by the employee (current employee contributions are capped at 8%).  In other words, at this point, the employer will only agree to move to the CAAT Plan if SPEA agrees to a significant concession.  One percent may not seem like a lot, but over the course of an employee’s career, the value of this concession is significant.  For example (overly simplified, but makes the point), over a 35 year time period, someone making an average salary of $100,000 would lose $35,000 from their total compensation and would have to pay an additional $35,000 to receive the same pension.


Two-tiering happens when new hires receive inferior terms and conditions of employment compared to current employees.  This is most common in the area of pensions and benefits.  Unions sometimes accept “two tiering” because it’s easy:  Current members are unaffected, at least not in the short term.  SPEA is opposed to two tiering pension as a basic issue of fairness and equity.  We also believe that in the long run, two-tiering may be a slippery slope to an inferior pension for all.   Over time, more and more employees will be covered by the inferior plan and are unlikely to support maintaining the superior plan for their colleagues.


Finally, a quick note on benefits and the employer’s Nucleus posting from last week.  The employer’s posting contained a number of inaccuracies:


1. The employer update states that Candu’s benefits were reviewed “compared to the Sun Life overall book of business”.  The employer states that, for the most part, our medical and dental plans are on par, with one or two exceptions, including mental health.  This statement mischaracterizes the comparison that was done and presented.  The review only compared the relative usage of different components of the benefit plan.    In other words, it only compared how our benefits “pie” is cut up, compared with other companies.  The comparison did NOT look at the size of the pie.  The comparison did not and could not support the employer’s proposition that “our medical and dental plans are on par” with other plans.


2. The employer also states that they presented a 2016 “deep dive” analysis, which found Candu plans to be “quite competitive”.    There was no such presentation, simply the same statement that the employer made in its posting.  We would like to see the actual analysis and we have requested it.  We are concerned that the employer may also be mischaracterising this analysis.  The employer has not responded to our request.


3. Regarding pension, the employer states that CAAT advised “their ideal implementation timeline would be 4 to 6 months.”  This statement was made in connection with an employer going from no pension plan to the CAAT plan.  Implementation timelines are much shorter in our case, where the employer is switching plans, not starting from scratch.


As they say in your HU tools, it’s important to have a questioning attitude!


We will keep you posted as the week progresses. You can view previous updates at http://www.spea.ca/ 


Collective Bargaining Update 9

May 7, 2022


Dear Members,


Some of you must be wondering if SPEA and the employer are negotiating in different universes, given the messages SPEA is sending, compared with the employer’s rosy updates on Nucleus.  A number of you have requested more details about the progress.  As mentioned In Update 7, none of our priorities have been addressed to date.  Progress is glacially slow and the only collective agreement changes we have made so far, are on items proposed by the employer.  


SPEA has agreed to a number of language changes sought by the employer:  

Article 8 (Co-Operative Committee) – SPEA agreed to the employer’s request to combine a number of other mandated committees into the Co-Operative Committee (training, employment equity, merit grid):


  • Article 7 (Notifications) – This article sets out various membership lists the employer has to send to SPEA (new hires, seniority lists, organization charts, etc.). The employer would like to amalgamate the information into a single monthly list. We are close to an agreement.
  • Article 9 (Grievance Process) – The employer sought language changes to this Article, and we are close to an agreement.


We have made little or no progress on any of the items proposed by SPEA, even those with little or no monetary impact, including:


  • Article 13 (Pension) – This is a non-monetary item since it will not involve an additional cost to the employer. We and representatives of CAAT have spent many hours discussing the Plan with the employer, including today. We are concerned that the employer may be withholding agreement on this in order to use it as a “bargaining chip” to gain a concession elsewhere, despite the fact that a good pension plan is a “win-win” for both the employer and employees. 
  • Article 19.07 (Virtual Working) - We have repeatedly raised this issue with the employer and indicated it as a very high priority item for our members. No progress has been made. 
  • Article 1 (Recognition) – SPEA seeks process language to better protect our jurisdiction, especially against the employer’s strategy of moving our members’ work to “managers” who are not really managers. The employer has instead suggested we devote time after bargaining to try to mediate our outstanding issues. We have spent countless hours and days trying to mediate jurisdictional issues with this employer. It has not worked. All we have done is better educate them on how to write position descriptions so they appear more managerial.
  • Article 6 (SPEA Activity) – We have proposed language specifically allowing SPEA to email our members. This language was not specifically in the collective agreement in the past, but it has been the practice for decades, known and condoned by the employer.  As you know, the employer has blocked all emails which is significantly impacting our ability to properly represent our members.  This matter is also at the Labour Board. The employer’s answer is a flat “no” to this language.  


The employer has not put forward a response on the monetary items – benefits, scale, merit, Assignment Conditions. But as previously mentioned, a number of their proposals are worrisome:


  • Currently, the employer cannot require an employee to take an assignment that would require them to move residences if that assignment will be longer than three months. The employer seeks the ability to require employees to move for work for up to eighteen months. We don’t think it’s right for an employer to be able to force an employee to leave their lives, friends and families under threat of losing their jobs. We also don’t believe the employer has demonstrated a significant problem in this area.  Many jobs can now be primarily performed remotely, which in our view lessens the need for this kind of language.  
  • The employer seeks to add two new disciplines for the TTs: Metrologists and Non-Destructive Examiners
  • The employer seeks a number of changes to the SE skills, which were outlined in a previous Message. You will be receiving further details next week (SE).   
  • In both these areas, SPEA is not against the idea of looking at the skills/disciplines and revising if they no longer make sense. But the skills/discipline system is very important.  It governs the way in which layoffs occur. To be done right, this is a process which should take weeks or months of concerted effort with membership input.  
  • As noted, the employer has not put any monetary items on the table. We have spent an inordinate amount of time on the small number of items agreed to so far. But their signaling – about losing business to competitors, etc. is worrisome.  

We believe there are many reasons why the employer is losing business which have nothing to do with wages: Candu is an incredibly bureaucratic, top heavy organization, slow to respond to changing opportunities. Candu has sold or given away crucial IP to competitors. Decisions are made at the very top without meaningful input from lower level managers and employees. Tackling competitiveness issues by focussing on labour costs is short-sighted, especially in the current environment in which competition for talent is fierce. Candu needs more attractive compensation and working conditions to be viable in the long run – not a race to the bottom.


As noted in Update #8, we will be we will be in a legal strike-lockout position on May 29th and have scheduled a strike vote for May 25th. Everyone will have an opportunity to vote via secure, anonymous online voting. Voting links will be sent to your personal email addresses. In advance of the vote, we will be hosting virtual membership meetings so you have the opportunity to know both sides’ positions on all of the issues and ask questions. More information to come.


Finally, now more than ever, it is vital that we can contact you. If you know someone who is a new hire or has not received communications from SPEA in recent months, please ask them to send their personal email address and phone number to admin@spea.ca. If your contact information has changed please send updated information to admin@spea.ca as well. 


In Solidarity, 

Michelle Duncan

SPEA Staff, On behalf of the SPEA Executive


Collective Bargaining Update 8

May 4, 2022


Dear Members,


We are writing to update you on bargaining. As noted in Update #7, we will be in a legal strike-lockout position on May 29th. SPEA and the employer agreed to a one week extension from the original date of May 22nd. Our goal remains to negotiate a fair collective agreement that includes:


> Fair salary increases that reflect inflation;

> Benefit improvements (we have not seen any since 2006);

> Company cooperation to move to the CAAT Pension Plan; 

> Virtual working – The majority of our members want to continue to work from home, at least part of the time;

> Jurisdictional protection – Better processes to protect our jurisdiction. The employer has been systematically eroding SPEA membership, especially by improperly excluding a growing number of senior positions by calling them “managers” when they don’t actually exercise managerial authority in accordance with the law.


Negotiations have intensified, and we will be face-to-face bargaining most days between now and May 29th. Despite negotiating for months, we have made no gains and none of our priorities have been addressed.   


We have scheduled a strike vote for May 25th. Everyone will have an opportunity to vote via secure, anonymous online voting. In advance of the vote, we will ensure you know both sides’ positions on all of the issues. We will also be providing information about how a strike would work (strike pay, picketing, etc.).


Our goal is to conclude a fair collective agreement without a labour disruption, and we remain focused on bargaining. However, based on our lack of progress at the table (and the employer’s conduct generally) we do not believe we will achieve our goals through negotiations alone.  


The employer needs to understand that our members support our bargaining goals and are ready to strike to achieve them - this means high participation rates and strong support in the upcoming strike vote.  


As always, let us know if you have any questions or concerns. A reminder that you can access all of our membership messages at http://www.spea.ca/bargaining1/


In Solidarity, 

Michelle Duncan

SPEA Staff, On behalf of the SPEA Executive


Collective Bargaining Update 7

May 2, 2022


Membership Message: Agreement on OA First Contract Arbitration


Dear Members,


As noted in Update #6, we are pleased to report that we have an agreement with the employer to use “first contract arbitration” for the OA group.   This arbitration process will start within 120 days of the conclusion of bargaining for the SE/TT/PD collective agreement.  What this means is that the terms of the collective agreement will ultimately be determined by an arbitrator.  The arbitrator acts like a “judge” with the authority to determine what the collectiveagreement will contain, after hearing both sides’ positions.  The arbitrator we have agreed upon has decades of experience in the field of labour law.  


This arbitration process will start within 120 days of the conclusion of bargaining for the SE/TT/PD collectiveagreement.  In the meantime, the “statutory freeze” remains in effect, so terms and conditions of employment will remain the same, including salary increases (which the OA group received in March of this year), benefits, promotion processes etc.

                                                                                

We are confident that the arbitration process will provide a good result for the OA group.  Among other things, an arbitrator will place weight on collective agreements already in existence in the workplace.  This means that the OA collective agreement will be impacted by the outcome of SE, TT and PD negotiations.  


Our agreement on first contract arbitration means that if there is a strike or lockout, the OAs will not be a part of it.  However, if we get to that point, there will be many ways for the OAs to support their colleagues:  OAs will have the legal right to refuse to perform work of employees on strike or locked out; OA members can respect any picket line protocols; and OAs will be called upon to donate to a hardship fund that will be set up to assist strikers in financial need.  


This week we are bargaining in-person at the Residence Inn.  We hope that over the next few days we will have a clearer picture of where the employer stands on the important issues.  We have agreed with the employer to extend the deadline for any strike or lockout to May 29, 2022.   We will be setting a date for a strike vote later this week.    


We will keep you posted and, in the meantime, please feel free to contact an Executive Member, your CAR (Communication Action Representative)  or staff with any questions.


In Solidarity, 

Michelle Duncan

SPEA Staff, On behalf of the SPEA Executive


Collective Bargaining Update 6

May 2, 2022


Membership Message: First Contract Arbitration


Dear Members,


We are pleased to announce that SPEA and the employer have agreed to first contract arbitration for the OA bargaining unit.  What this means is that the terms of the collective agreement will ultimately be determined by an arbitrator.  The arbitrator acts like a “judge” with the authority to determine what the collective agreement will contain, after hearing both sides’ positions.  The arbitrator we have agreed upon has decades of experience in the field of labour law.  


This arbitration process will start within 120 days of the conclusion of bargaining for the SE/TT/PD collective agreement.  In the meantime, the “statutory freeze” remains in effect, so terms and conditions of employment will remain the same, including salary increases (which the OA group received in March of this year), benefits, promotion processes etc.


In Solidarity, 

Michelle Duncan

SPEA Staff, On behalf of the SPEA Executive


Collective Bargaining Update 5

April 21, 2022


Membership Message:  Process, Benefit Proposals and Domestic Assignment Conditions Proposals


Dear Members,


Below are our proposals regarding benefits and Domestic Assignment Conditions.  


We would first like to briefly address the employer’s postings about bargaining. As you know, the employer has cut off all SPEA communication to members and insisted that any union communication must occur on employees’ own time and devices. Apparently that rule doesn’t apply when it comes to the employer’s lengthy Nucleus postings about SPEA which employees are invited to read on employer devices while at work.  Union communications at work are OK, so long as that communication is controlled by the company.     


Our bargaining membership messages can be accessed on our website:  http://www.spea.ca/bargaining1/.  There may be a point where we don’t post publicly, but so far, all messages are posted. We’ve heard that most managers are completely in the dark about bargaining (other than what the employer posts on Nucleus), including issues that directly affect their work, such as the employer’s skills inventory proposal. Feel free to direct your managers to the link above if they would like detailed information from our perspective.


As you know, SPEA has filed for Conciliation. Conciliation ends on April 29th, putting us in a strike/lockout position as of May 21st, unless there is agreement to extend the Conciliation process. We have previously explained our reasons for filing for Conciliation. A significant factor was the employer’s reluctance and/or refusal to schedule bargaining dates. This problem has largely been remedied since we filed, and the employer is now providing bargaining dates. Applying for Conciliation forced the Company to come to the table. However, as previously reported, progress remains slow and to date we don’t know where the employer stands on most issues, aside from the general statements reported earlier about needing to be more competitive and about how SPEA members’ compensation makes them uncompetitive.


In its postings, the employer tries to blame a busy litigation schedule on their “slow response” to various matters related to bargaining and grievances. The employer claims that the Conciliation Officer requested a “pause in litigation” to focus on bargaining and SPEA refused. This statement is false. The employer did make that request, but not the Conciliation Officer. We were not willing to give up arbitration dates for grievances – mostly about jurisdiction – that in some cases are many years old. We don’t believe the litigation schedule this month explains the employer’s failure over many months to respond to requests for disclosure (legally required in bargaining), or to provide grievance responses, or to progress bargaining generally.  


The employer also states that we spent a number of days by mutual agreement discussing jurisdiction. This is correct. Jurisdiction is a huge problem. Almost a quarter of Candu personnel are now not in any bargaining unit – most are excluded as so called “managers”. That figure used to be closer to ten percent. The employer has been systematically attempting to weaken the union – also closing off career prospects for those who wish to remain within SPEA – by moving senior positions out of the bargaining units. The more recent move to cut off SPEA access via email is part of that same agenda. 


We are making preparations for a strike or lockout, in case that becomes necessary. Timing is important, and to be blunt, we believe the employer is trying to drag things out to the slower summer months. We will update you on our preparations in the coming weeks. No strike action will be taken before members are given an opportunity to vote by secret ballot and we will ensure you have all of the information necessary to make an informed decision. Although we are preparing for a strike, our primary goal and focus is to negotiate a fair collective agreement without any labour disruption.  


Now, below are our proposals on domestic assignment conditions and benefit improvements. We have copied the document which we sent to the employer. As always feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. 


     A.  Benefits

There have been no benefit improvements since 2006 negotiations.  At that time,  effective June 1, 2006, vision care increased to $500; chiropractic coverage increased to $400 and massage therapy increased to $400.  Effective April 1, 2008, orthodontia was introduced at its current amounts.

In other areas, there have been no improvements for the last 20 years, probably longer. We are proposing the following benefit changes. The changes we are proposing don’t match the inflationary increases, but begin to close the gap.


1. Paramedical Services

Increase maximum amounts across all four plan options by 20%.

Remove per visit caps (currently apply to psychologist/social workers and speech therapy under the Base Option)

Include psychotherapist coverage, alongside psychologists and social workers


2. Vision Care – Increase maximum amounts across all four plans by 20%


3. Dental – Major Restorative

Increase annual maximum by 20%

Include coverage for implants


4. Dental – Orthodontia – Increase maximum by 20%



In addition, we would like to better understand those services that are subject to a “reasonable and customary” limit:  Which services are limited, what are the current limits, how frequently are they changed and on what basis.  Would you please provide that information.



     B.  Domestic Assignment Conditions

As we’ve mentioned, the process of expense reimbursement is almost universally despised (and this goes for collective agreement travel as well).  The issue became worse after the employer laid off the internal payroll people. We would like to discuss these process issues during bargaining. Would you please be prepared to discuss process changes (if any) that are currently being contemplated.


Domestic Commuter Assignment Conditions (DCACs)


1. Remove $200 cap

2. Lunch per diem increase from $15 to $20

3. Annual inflation adjustment per concept proposed in connection with Article 21.10


Domestic Short Term (Commercial Accommodations) and Outage ACs


4. Increase Location Premium from $15 to $20

5. Increase per diem from $70 per day to $80 (per Article 21.10 amounts)

6. Increase incidental amount from $10 to $11 (per Article 21.10 amounts)

7. Increase local mileage maximum from $15 to 20  (Darlington), from $20 to $25 (elsewhere in Ontario) and from $30 to $40 for outside Ontario

8. Under “Work Schedule”, if employer “requires” employees to work a compressed week schedule, shift language will apply.

9. Annual inflation adjustment for above amounts similar to concept proposal in connection with Article 21.10


Domestic Short Term (non-Commercial accommodations)


10. Subsistence Allowance & Per Diems:  Adjustment for employees on leave should exclude sick leave, unless the sick leave is greater than five days and the employee returns home.

11. Adjust Subsistence amounts

a. Bruce – from $1700 to $1,876.80 

b. Darlington – from $1400 to $1545.60

12. Settling in Period:  Adjust per diem amounts, incidentals and Location premium per the above (#4, 5, 6)

13. Housing & Utilities:  Remove the concept of a “cap”.  The company should be assisting the employee to find suitable accommodation and reimburse for reasonable accommodations. The amounts set out for rental accommodation were based on Global Mobility analysis in 2017.  Please provide updated analysis.  Utilities should be reimbursed separately. Discuss maintaining shared accommodations.

14. Furniture Allowance – increase from $8,000 to $8,832 (unaccompanied); and from 10,000 to 11,040; and $1500 to $1,656

15. Lease Cancellation – Employee should not be liable for early cancellation of lease.  To discuss.

16. Local Mileage at site:  $15 to 20  (Darlington), from $20 to $25 (elsewhere in Ontario) and from $30 to $40 for outside Ontario

17. Work Schedule - Required compressed work week – per #8 above

18. Annual inflation adjustment per #9 above, to cover all monetary amounts


Domestic Long Term


19. Subsistence Allowance & Per Diems:  per #10 above.

20. Adjust subsistence amounts per #11 above

21. Settling in Period:  Per #12 above

22. Housing & Utilities – per #13 above

23. Furniture Allowance – per #14 above

24. Lease Cancellation – per #15 above

25. Local mileage at site – per #16 above

26. Work Schedule – Required Compressed Work Week, per #8 above

27. Annual inflation adjustment per #9 above, to cover all monetary amounts


In Solidarity, 

Michelle Duncan

SPEA Staff, On behalf of the SPEA Executive


Collective Bargaining Update 4

April 14, 2022


Summary of the Employer’s Bargaining Proposal (SE, TT, PD)


As promised in Update #3, below is a summary of the employer’s latest bargaining proposal for the SE, TT and PD bargaining units. The employer did not respond to any of our monetary proposals, nor did it respond to many of our non-monetary proposals (such as language around working from home).  This is disappointing and is consistent with what seems to be their goal of dragging out negotiations. The summary of our major proposals is reproduced below for your reference (Membership Update #3)

  

1. Transfers Involving a Change of Domicile (i.e. Forced Relocation)  (11.04)

Our collective agreements currently state that employees cannot be required to take on an assignment that would require them to move, if that assignment is greater than three months in duration.  The employer seeks to change that language so they can require an employee to move for work, unless the assignment is greater than eighteen months.  


Many if not most of our members are rooted in their communities, including caring for children or elderly parents.  We feel very strongly that employees should not be forced to move in order to keep their jobs.  We also don’t believe the employer has demonstrated any significant problem here that needs to be fixed.  


2. Growth Initiatives (Clarification Note, page 2)

The employer broadly sets out growth initiatives for new hires, including interest in internships and apprenticeships for new hires.  The ideas are very high level at this point but we remain concerned about potential “two tier” systems for new hires, such as lower salary grids for new hires.


3. Jurisdiction (1.03)

The employer has rejected our proposal to try to avoid jurisdictional disputes in future.  They have proposed an LOU (Letter of Understanding) which would commit the parties to try to negotiate a resolution to the various grievances.  But there is no consequence if the negotiations are unsuccessful.  We don’t believe mediation on its own will succeed, given the countless hours we have already spent trying to do just that. Also, the LOU won’t prevent future work from being removed from our bargaining units.  This is of great concern, given that 23% of current personnel (including contractors) at Candu are now not part of any bargaining unit.  Only managers and those with access to confidential labour relations information should be outside of SPEA.  The 23% figure is startingly high.


4. Jurisdiction – Joint Ventures (1.04)

The employer seeks language that would prohibit SPEA from seeking to unionise any other employees of SNC Lavalin, or companies with whom Candu/SNC is engaged in joint ventures (such as Aecon at the RFR).  If this language was previously in place, we would not have been able to file the Single Employer Application that led to the transfer of close to 200 employees from SLN to Candu.  These employees saw many improvements to their terms and conditions of employment with this transfer.  This language would also allow the company to transfer our work to JV partners like Aecon or AECOM and we would have no ability to effectively challenge that loss of work/jobs.


5. Paid Leave (14.08, 14.15)

Among other things, the employer has proposed that once an employee’s vacation has been approved, it may only be altered if management approves.  Their proposal would also have the effect of removing the entitlement to Personal Business Days (currently, one per year, to be used for any purpose).  The employer would like to take the Personal Business Day and apply it to the new Personal Leave Days (three paid per year) that the Federal Government passed a few years ago.    Our proposal on leaves and how to incorporate the new Federal Personal Leave Days is below.


6. Skills Inventory (SE bargaining unit)

The list of skill categories is important because layoffs occur in inverse order of seniority by skill.  There are a number of exceptions, including the use of “protects” for more junior employees, and secondary skill transfers, etc.  The employer has proposed a number of changes to the current SP (“core” nuclear) skills.  They have not as of yet proposed any changes to the “balance of plant” skills, though we have suggested a discussion on whether it makes sense in every case to have separate “balance of plant” and “core” skills in the same area.  We have asked them to provide us with a seniority list based on the below changes.  We have attached the current skills list for your information.  


These are the changes being proposed:   


The employer has proposed combining some skills and splitting others.  


Split SP03 (Civil Engineering) into SP03A (Civil Design) and SP03B (Civil Analysis)


 Merge SP04 (Process Control), SP05 (Control System Concepts), SP06 (Safety System Concepts), SP07 (Nuclear Instrumentation) and SP20 (FH Controls & Electrical) into SP0 (Process Control).


 Merge SP08 (Control Computer Systems) & SP09 (Dedicated Safety Computer Systems) into SP08 (Control Computer Systems)


 Modify SP16 (Reactor & Related Structures), SP17 (FC Design) and SP18 (Reactor Structures) into SP16 (Reactor Structures Analysis) and SP17 (Reactor Structures Design). Here Reactor Structures would include Fuel Channels.


 Merge SP15 (Process Equipment Engineering) and SP21 (FH Mechanical & Process Design) into SP15 (Process Equipment Engineering). 


 Split SP26 (Reactor Core/Radiation Physics) into SP26A (Reactor Core Physics), SP26B (Radiation Physics/Radiation Shielding) & SP26C (Operational Health Physics)


 Merge SP28 (Safety Concepts Engineering) and SP31 (Licensing) into SP31 (Licensing)


7. Business Class Flights (21.09)

The employer has proposed removing the entitlement to business class flights which are currently provided for short term work assignments in Asia and South America.  Entitlement to be determined by the Employer Travel Policy.


8. Seniority (22.05)

Currently, if a TT or PD employee moves to the SE bargaining unit (or vice versa), they take their prior seniority with them into the new unit.  We proposed that the same should apply for OA employees who move to SE, TT or PD.  The employer has rejected this proposal.  OA employees are once again treated as second class employees.


9. Automatic Termination Clause (22.05(c))

The employer has proposed automatic termination if an employee is absent from work three days without notification, unless failure to notify is a result of circumstances beyond the control of the employee. We saw this and other “automatic termination” provisions in their OA proposal.


We all agree that employees should notify management of any absences. But automatic termination clauses are overkill. If an employee fails to notify the employer of an absence, it is likely that a severe mental health issue is involved. Such an employee should not be automatically terminated. The employer already has the ability to discipline or discharge employees who fail to notify management of absences, subject to their legal requirement to behave fairly and reasonably. Furthermore, this language has been proposed despite the fact that there is no problem with employees absenting themselves from work without contacting management (when we asked, the employer said there is one such example). Furthermore, the employer’s proposal states that additional “automatic termination” items may be proposed in future.  


Moving Forward:

We have several bargaining dates scheduled this month, and many more in May, including for the OAs. We have put forward Benefit and Domestic Assignment Conditions proposals, which we will summarize in our next message. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.


In Solidarity,

Michelle Duncan

SPEA Staff, on behalf of the SPEA Executive


Collective Bargaining Update 3

April 11, 2022


On March 23, SPEA submitted a “comprehensive” proposal for the SE, TT and PD bargaining units, including all articles, though it did not include Assignment Conditions (ACs) or specific benefit improvement proposals. The Proposal is attached. We received a response from the employer last Friday, but it did not include responses on any of the monetary issues.  


Later this week, we will send further membership messages outlining our Assignment Conditions and benefit proposals, summarizing the company’s current proposal, and commenting on process issues and the employer’s bargaining message on Nucleus.


For the OAs, we have made it clear that we will be seeking the same collective agreement language, with limited exceptions. So, the below information is relevant to the OAs as well.  We have not yet formally tabled a full proposal (including monetary items) at the OA table. We will be seeking the same entitlements for the OAs as those outlined below.  


The proposal is attached and highlights are as follows:


Scale/Merit/Inflation – Article 20

As you all know, we are in a highly inflationary environment with a great deal of uncertainty in terms of where inflation will be headed in the next few years. The average monthly inflation rate in 2021 was 3.4%.  Inflation is currently running at close to 6% and these high rates of inflation are projected to continue. Based on our membership survey and feedback generally, we know that inflation is of great concern to our members and we have addressed this in our proposals.


We have proposed scale increases of:


2022 -  6% (retroactive to January 1st) 

2023 – 4.5%

2024 – 4%


We have not proposed any changes to the merit pool which is 1.5% of payroll [Article 20.02)

  

We have proposed inflationary protection language (a Cost of Living Adjustment – COLA). This language provides that if the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the previous year is more than 2% higher than the agreed scale increase, half the difference will be added to salaries as of March 1st . For example, if annual inflation in 2023 is 8%, the scale adjustment for 2024 will be 4% on January 1st and on March 1st, 2024, there will be an additional scale increase of 2% (8-4 = 4; 4/2 = 2)


The OA’s salary progression is currently very different than the SE/TT/PD. OAs currently don’t receive scale adjustments, only merit based increases.  The OA bargaining unit is complicated.  Some positions are similar in nature to SE professional jobs, and others are more clerical in nature. We will have to address these differences in our salary discussions.  Inflationary protection language will be included.


Pension Plan

Our members voted overwhelmingly in favour of moving from our current Defined Contribution Pension Plan to the CAAT DB Plus Pension Plan in December of 2021.  Our current collective agreements contain language requiring the employer to cooperate in a move to a new pension plan. The transition to this new plan should have already happened, but the employer has refused, taking the position that we must negotiate any change to the pension plan provider through bargaining. We have filed a grievance about this.  We accept that the employer has the right to ensure that it will not face any additional liabilities with the new plan and we are confident that no such liabilities exist. In any event, we have proposed specific pension language.  Last week, members of each side’s negotiating committee and company lawyers met with SPEA and CAAT representatives to discuss the Plan.


Jurisdictional Language

Close to a quarter of Candu employees are not in any SPEA bargaining unit, despite the fact that between the four units (SE, TT, PD and OA), all employees should be members of SPEA unless they are managers or regularly access confidential information related to labour relations (accessing confidential business or technical information is NOT the basis for exclusion). We believe the employer is consciously trying to weaken SPEA and limit our members’ career advancement opportunities by creating false “management” positions. They are also designating positions OA which should be in the SE or TT bargaining unit (such as project coordinators). Jurisdictional issues are a major source of conflict and litigation. We are seeking a process to deal with new excluded and OA positions, which will hopefully reduce the litigation.      


Benefit Improvements – Article 12

We have not negotiated any benefit improvements since 2006 and we know that our benefits are outdated. We have informed the employer that we will be seeking benefit improvements, especially in the areas of vision, dental and paramedical. We had a productive meeting with the employer last week to discuss the current status and usage of the benefit plan and will be submitting specific proposals within the next week.


Leave Entitlements and Canada Labour Code Changes - Article 14

Several years ago, the federal government introduced a number of improvements to the Canada Labour Code leave entitlements. This includes the introduction of three days’ paid leave for the following purposes:


            1.   If the employee is sick

            2.   For employee’s medical, dental or eye appointments

            3.   To take care of health obligations for a family member or to care for a family member

            4.   To take care of obligations related to the education of a family member under  the age of 18

            5.   To manage an urgent situation that concerns an employee or a family member


The first two items are already covered by sick leave.  We have proposed adding the additional items under the sick leave umbrella, basically extending the purposes for which sick leave may be utilized.  


We have also proposed moving one week “top up” from maternity leave and adding it to parental leave. Currently, employees are entitled to 16 week’s at 93% of salary for maternity leave and 4 weeks at 93% of salary for parental leave.  Our proposal is for 15 weeks maternity leave top up and 5 weeks of parental leave top up.  The purpose is to increase the entitlement for the non-birth parent without reducing the overall entitlement for the birth parent.


Virtual Working – Article 19.07

Based on our survey, a clear majority of you would prefer to work from home on a regular basis.  Many of you would prefer to work from home 100% of the time, many would like to work from home at least one day a week.  We know that on a company-wide basis, SNC Lavalin has indicated its support of virtual working.  Encouraging virtual working is also in line with SNC Lavalin’s “Engineering Net Zero” initiative. Our proposal commits the employer to allow employees to work virtually on a full time, part time or occasional basis, taking into consideration operational requirements and employee preferences.  It also commits the parties to come up with a process and guidelines for virtual working.


Shift Work and Travel Entitlements – Article 19.01, 21

We have proposed shift premium increases, from $2.50 to $3.00 per hour for day shift and from $2.80 to $6.50 per hour for night shift.  The latter increase is in recognition of the hardship associated with night shift work. (Article 19.01)


We have proposed increases to travel allowances and language to ensure allowances are calculated to include three hours airport time for international travel and two hours for domestic travel.  We have also proposed inflationary adjustments (Article 21.07).  We have also proposed increases to meal allowances and incidentals and inflationary protection (Article 21.10)


As always, please contact an Executive member or staff with any questions or concerns.


Michelle Duncan

On behalf of the SPEA Executive


Collective Bargaining Update 2

February 15, 2022


In our last membership message (below), we described the Conciliation process in collective bargaining. Basically, either the union or the employer can apply to the federal government and the government must appoint a conciliation officer to assist the parties in bargaining.  The conciliation officer functions as a mediator.  In addition to obtaining mediation services, applying for Conciliation puts pressure on the parties to negotiate a collective agreement, since the Conciliation process is also a necessary step towards the parties being in a strike/lockout position.  The timelines for conciliation are set out in the below membership message.


SPEA has decided to apply for Conciliation for all four bargaining units and we intend to do so today. It is important to note that in the vast majority of cases, Conciliation is successful, meaning there is no strike or lockout.  Our decision to apply for Conciliation is based on a number of factors.  


First, in our opinion, the employer is not attaching any urgency to negotiate.  For whatever reason(s), they seem to want to prolong and delay the process.  This may have to do with the timing of future work projects.  We are having a hard time obtaining dates; several prior dates have been cancelled.  For the OAs, the employer is not willing to provide any further dates beyond the 2.5 days we have currently scheduled.   


We believe the Conciliation process will focus both sides on achieving results in a timely manner. 


Secondly, based on what we have seen so far at the table, we are concerned the employer will be seeking concessions, as noted in the below membership message.  We have attached the employer’s agenda, as well as ours.  Note that these agenda focus on non-monetary items.  Since the below message was sent, we met at the OA bargaining table.  This was our first meeting after many months.  The employer decided to remove its previous proposals and replace them with a new set of proposals that are even worse than the previous ones.  The employer continues to insist that for the OAs, benefits, sick leave, etc., must be determined by Company policy, which is subject to change.  Their prior proposal included current amounts for pension and vacation.  Pension and vacation proposals have now been removed.  Under the employer’s new comprehensive proposal for the OAs, an employee who is legitimately ill will be terminated after one year’s absence*.  We aren’t sure yet if they will be tabling the same proposal at the SE, TT and PD table, but we suspect that was the intention.  


At the SE, TT and PD table, the employer’s agenda and discussions so far raise the following concerns:


​​​​​​​ With respect to scale and merit tables, the employer states they wish to discuss from the “perspective of being more market competitive to win new business that our competitors are currently winning”.  Their opening statement blames “high pricing” on what they claim is a significant loss of business.


​​​​​​​ They wish to discuss a lower starting salary for new graduates (item #3 on their agenda; they confirmed “different” rate of pay means lower rate of pay).


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ They have proposed language that would commit the union not to organize or seek bargaining rights for employees in different SNC subsidiaries or JV partners where SPEA members are working (item #5).  This language would have prevented SPEA from filing its Single Employer Application for SLN back in 2015, which led directly to the first transfer of SLN employees to Candu in 2017.  These transferring employees (and those who transferred in 2019) saw substantial improvements to their terms and conditions of employment.


Thirdly, as you know, the employer’s actions outside of the bargaining table have also alarmed us. This includes the December 21st announcement prohibiting employees from communicating with SPEA representatives using company devices and emails.  This is contrary to the SNC Code of Ethics which allows for moderate personal use.  At the bargaining table, SPEA Executive members were accused of “theft” and threatened with discipline or discharge for providing Organization Charts to SPEA staff.  Providing Organization Charts to SPEA is specifically set out in the collective agreements AND Executive members have been regularly sending these charts to SPEA for the last decade with the employer’s knowledge. 


As noted in the below message, we have complained about all of this at the Labour Board.   


You may ask why we are applying for Conciliation now, rather than waiting to see more of their proposals.  We believe we have seen enough to know where things are likely heading, which is towards concessions, if we don’t stand up to the Company.  Reasoned argument at the bargaining table will not be enough.  A Conciliation Officer will be helpful to move the process along; and the timing will ensure that the OA bargaining unit doesn’t get left behind, which is the Company’s goal.   


We believe we are in a strong bargaining position – both in terms of Candu’s upcoming projects and our membership support.  We are confident that we can achieve fair and reasonable collective agreements reflecting industry standards, so long as we stand together.


 *They do note this will be “subject to the Human Rights Code”, which is odd, since we are federal and are not subject to this legislation.  In any event, we raised two concerns:  First, about the termination itself; and secondly, about the potential impact on LTD benefits if someone is terminated.  The employer did say they would look into the LTD issue and get back to us.   


Regards,


On Behalf of the SPEA Executive

Chris Jacobs

SPEA Secretary-Treasurer


Collective Bargaining Update 1

February 8, 2022


As you know, SPEA has requested that negotiations for the four bargaining units take place at the same table, with “side tables” as necessary to deal with issues specific to individual bargaining units.  The employer has said no to this request. They have agreed to negotiate the SE, TT and PD collective agreements together.  They refuse to include the OAs.   For the OAs, the employer also refused to provide bargaining dates - which we had been requesting for months - until we complained about their refusal to negotiate in an Unfair Labour Practice Application filed in early January. 


Regarding the OAs, you may remember that we have engaged in approximately 20 bargaining dates starting in 2018.  Bargaining for the OAs has been very difficult, so far.  Among other things, the employer refused to agree to (codify) basic entitlements such as benefits, insisting that it should have the right to change these entitlements at any time.   


After much effort, the employer has agreed to the following upcoming bargaining dates:   February 9, 14, 24; March 9, 30 (SE, TT, PD); February 11, 25, March 1, 2 (OA).  


Because our collective agreements expired on December 31st, you will not have received the usual scale increase on January 1st.  We will be seeking retroactive salary increases in negotiations and this has always been agreed upon, even following the 2012 strike. 


The OAs haven’t historically received a January 1st scale issue.  They receive their salary increase March 1st.  This practice will continue because the OAs are in a “statutory freeze” period where business as usual should continue.


Jurisdictional Issues


We met several times starting in October to discuss our various jurisdictional disputes.  In a nutshell, we believe the employer is trying to move as many people as possible into “management” positions, outside the union.  This closes off promotion opportunities for members who would like to “move up” and remain within SPEA.  It also weakens us in bargaining, because there are more people around to do our work in the event of a strike or lockout. 


The Canada Labour Code has a narrow definition of “manager” so as to allow as many people as possible to belong to a union.  The employer can’t make someone a manager simply by calling them a manager.  People with responsible positions and supervisory roles are not necessarily managers under the law.  True managers must have effective power over things like hiring, firing, discipline, or overall policy making.    


The employer is also placing engineers and other professionals into the OA bargaining unit, which currently does not have a collective agreement.  We see this in the growing number of Project Coordinator type roles being filled with engineers who are paid considerably less than their colleagues, performing similar work.  These roles historically were filled by SE members.


Unfortunately, no progress was made in resolving the jurisdictional issues.


Exchange of Non-Monetary Agendas


Last week we exchanged high level non-monetary bargaining agendas (for SE, TT, PD).  Of concern, the employer’s agenda includes the creation of a new lower salary grade, in which new graduate hires would be included in a “development programme” and paid at rates below our collective agreement wage schedule.  They have also clearly signalled their intention to seek monetary concessions.  With respect to scale and merit tables, they state they wish to discuss from the “perspective of being more market competitive to win new business that our competitors are currently winning”.  Their opening statement blames “high pricing” on what they claim is a significant loss of business. 


We are concerned that their goal is to align our terms and conditions of employment more closely with other SNC companies, which are almost entirely non-union. 


It is possible that these words represent an opening position and don’t signal a hardline, concessionary approach to negotiations.  However, combined with the employer’s other actions over the past several months, we are increasingly concerned that this will be a tough round of negotiations, unlike the amicable bargaining session of 2016. 


Bargaining Process


We have been hearing from both nervous and eager members about the possibility of a strike or lockout.  From our perspective, a strike is an absolute last resort.  Before any strike action is taken, we will hold secret ballot votes (for each bargaining unit) and members will be provided with all of the necessary information (about the detailed positions of the parties) before voting on whether to take strike action.   


Over the coming months, you will be receiving more frequent communications from us.  And we also want to hear from you.  The employer has threatened to cut off our email communications to members by February 19th. We have filed a Complaint about this at the Labour Board, but we will not receive a decision in time to prevent this from happening.  Please provide us your personal email so that we can continue to keep you updated, by emailing aimin.shahid@spea.ca. We urge you to do so even if you have already provided your personal email in the past.

In terms of timelines, at any point now that negotiations have started, either side can apply for a process called “Conciliation”.  Within fifteen days of the application for Conciliation, a conciliation officer will be appointed to assist the parties with negotiations.  This period lasts at least sixty days.  It can be extended if both sides agree.  Once conciliation ends, another twenty one days must pass before the parties are in a position to initiate strike action or a lockout (this is where the employer “locks out” the employees). Seventy-two hours notice must be provided before any strike or lockout action is taken.


The bottom line is that strike or lockout action is not going to be happening anytime soon, and hopefully not at all.   


Our goal is to negotiate fair and reasonable collective agreements, with inflationary protection (you told us this is a top priority) and to do so without any labour disruption.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions, concerns or suggestions.


On behalf of the SPEA Executive

Akashdeep Gill

SPEA SE-MAL


SPEA, A Strong, Proactive, Effective Association committed to building respect for our members.