A few things to be aware of

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Hello, it’s me again.

Don’t go leaving the site just because I have a new post. I have something important for you to read. Alright a few things then.

First off, I hope everyone completed the OPS Employee Survey. This truly is an important opportunity to make your feelings known to the employer about management (good and bad), employee engagement (or disengagement) and other things like respect, recognition, bullying and harassment.

We shall see the results in a few months and let’s hope they listened.

Next, there is an event at the Day’s Inn (Division and 401) on March 25th at 7pm. And it involves how we can work together to make sure the Provincial Conservatives find it hard to take control of the province and implement their plan to take away basic rights of all unionized workers. You can go to ofl.nationbuilder.com/kingstonmeeting to register for this event. Remember that the protections unions provide in the workplace can be lost if the province is handed over to Tim Hudak.

Now the main point of this intrusion on your surfing time. OPSEU has posted the demand setting survey for the new contract negotiations coming up late this year. This format is new and allows you to stay relaxed and comfortable in your own home as you go through the survey and voice your opinion and concerns which will be passed on through to the yet to be determined bargaining team. To complete this survey you will need to have your WIN Id ready to register. So tomorrow find it, write it down, and remember to take it home.

Some things that I want you to consider when completing the survey are:

  • In the matter of redeployment, the Targeted Direct Assignment (TDA) process has been somewhat of an improvement for those who are surplussed. The previous method of matching to jobs was not working.  For many who have held few varying positions in the OPS the restriction on “classification based” opportunities limited the possibility for staying in the OPS. I believe that adding the aspect of a salary range back to the mix would be beneficial and I will put that into my survey. Being able to apply to jobs that fall into the +5% and -15% range of the position you are surplussed from is not only needed but also more fair. If you can get an interview based on your experience, qualifications, and talent as if you were just like an applicant to a competition; this is something we should make an effort to regain.
  • In regard to Voluntary Exit (VE) under Article 20 (Employment Stability), we have seen many instances where employees’ requests to be placed on the VE Registry have been denied simply because the employer has stated they are uncertain as to what they will do with the position in the future. Having language that specifies such denials are not to be allowed would make sense for the following reasons. First, if the employer is not planning on filling the position after an employee is granted the VE, then just surplus them and get rid of the position immediately. If there is uncertainty, then allow the position to be posted. If there is a successful applicant then let them hold the position until management makes a decision. Remember the person who is successful in getting this position is on the surplus list and they will be getting a new home even if it is only for a short time when they will start with a new 6 month clock. This is a change that will make difference for two people and not just one when it is applied.
  • In the matter of health and safety, we need stronger language that supports the Occupational Health and Safety Act giving serious consideration to ensuring the employer is making an effort in all matters that deal with health concerns and they do not just sit on issues waiting out employees whose sick time is being depleted until employees are forced back to work for monetary reasons. We need to adopt the ideas presented in the posted document “Precautionary Principle” as a standard for how situations are handled in matters where there are no precedents or guidelines to follow. In many cases, immediate action is required and changes can be made as more information becomes available and the situation becomes clear. Plus, we need specific language to address mental health issues in the workplace. For an employer that regularly promotes acceptance and understanding of mental health concerns to the public through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, my experience has shown there is a total lack of preparedness and understanding as to how to handle these concerns in the OPS and in the matter of Return to Work- Medical Accommodation matters.
  • We need back in our collective agreement, File Review Committees. The model for these as was previously employed showed clearly the committees worked when both sides were committed to working together to find resolutions to grievances being referred to arbitration. For those committees that were not successful, I feel that the leaders for the employer and the union did not push hard enough to have free-thinking and unbiased participation in dealing with the matters they were asked to review. Some committees worked and others were abysmal at finding a resolution. Nothing hurts employee relations more than having clear cut disputes go through the arbitration process when it is not necessary.

These are some of the thoughts I wanted to share and some of the events I wanted you to be aware of. I hope you all gained some understanding of what challenges we have faced and what pitfalls currently exist – heaven forbid you will ever be in need of help for any of the concerns I have addressed here.

Frank

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