Union-provided Workplace Rights
Sometimes, it seems many members fail to appreciate the value of the union and the work you do on their behalf as a Local officer or Steward. The Employer, however, knows very well how important you are! In fact, managers may attempt to block your union representation work.
Luckily, your collective agreement and provisions contained in the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act both protect union members from managers who try to prevent them from exercising their legal union rights.
If your manager tries to prevent you from exercising your legal union rights, there are two redress mechanisms that can be used to resolve the issue. The definitions, management prohibitions and tips on building your case are virtually the same for both. First, let’s look at the law, and then your collective agreement.
The Law — Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA)
Division 12, Section 185 of the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA) states that managers cannot interfere with the union representing its members and says that managers can’t use intimidation or threats to get you to give up your rights under the Act.
If your manager is committing an Unfair Labour Practice, such as discriminating against a union member due to their union involvement, you can file a complaint with the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board. It is called a Section 190 Complaint which is found in Division 13 of the PSLRA. If the Board agrees that Section 185 has been violated, they can order your manager to stop the actions.
The Collective Agreement
Most collective agreements contain a No Discrimination article that may read like this:
There shall be no discrimination, interference, restriction, coercion, harassment, intimidation, or any disciplinary action exercised or practiced with respect to an employee by reason of age, race, creed, colour, national origin, religious affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, family status, mental or physical disability, membership or activity in the PSAC, marital status or a conviction for which a pardon has been granted.
If you feel that you have been discriminated against because of your union affiliation or activity, you can file a grievance under the No Discrimination article.
The following are examples of actions that constitute a violation of either Section 185 of the FPSLRAor the collective agreement No Discrimination article:
- Refusing promotions because you spend too much time on union business;
- Complaining that you file too many grievances;
- Threatening to discipline you if you continue to be involved in the union; and
- Noting in your personal evaluation that your job performance is affected by your union involvement.
A pattern of discrimination might show up in the following kinds of actions:
- Assigning you more than your fair share of “dirty work”.
- Taking away the more interesting parts of your job.
- Suddenly hassling you about how long you take for lunch while continuing to be flexible about other people’s lunch break.
- Suddenly giving you either too much or too little work
- Deciding that your job performance is no longer satisfactory even though it hasn’t changed.
Note: Remember that equality does not always mean treating everyone the same. In fact, identical treatment of all employees can produce serious inequality. Coworkers may require variable treatment in order to achieve equality of opportunity.
It’s one thing to know your manager is trying to intimidate you. It’s another thing to prove it. You must name the manager in your complaint or grievance and you must be able to show that the intimidating actions took place. You must also show that the person you name intentionally sought to prevent you from exercising your rights. The Public Service Labour Relations Board will assume that the manager is innocent unless you can prove that he or she is guilty. It is important that you furnish enough evidence so your representative can build a sound case.
Here are some tips on building a case:
- Keep a record of all the remarks and incidents that you think were intended to intimidate you. The Board may not be impressed by one incident, but a pattern of intimidating practices might convince them.
- In your record, note the dates and times of intimidating remarks and incidents.
- Mention suspicions to someone else early on.
- Find witnesses who overheard the remarks.
- Keep copies of damaging letters and memos.
- Ask your union for advice as to whether it is preferable, under the circumstances, to file a grievance or a Section 190 Complaint.
Remember — unions and union members have rights. Don’t let anyone take those rights away!
Union dues are the lifeblood of every union. Each USJE member pays his or her fair share, so that everybody gains.
When we think about dues, it’s true that ‘what goes around comes around’. The broad range of services and benefits members receive thanks to the dues that are paid to the Union include:
- workplace representation;
- grievance and adjudication handling;
- collective bargaining for improved wages and benefits;
- internal and external communication of workplace issues;
- formal meetings with senior management;
- lobbying of politicians;
AND for members in good standing (card signing members):
- union education courses; and
- specialized training and representation in such areas as health and safety and human rights.
Along with their dues payment, USJE members in good standing get the opportunity to have a full say in the structure and activities of our union. And, let’s not forget that dues are also tax deductible.
In every union, it is customary to apportion dues between the Local Union and the National Union. However, because the USJE is a Component union of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, our members’ dues are split three ways in the following manner.
PSAC dues are set by delegates to PSAC Triennial Conventions. Similarly, USJE dues are established by delegates to our Triennial Convention. For current dues levels, please refer to your most recent Local membership computer printout.
USJE Bylaw 5, Section 2 sets minimum Local Union dues at $2 per member per month.
The National Office requires that the following procedure be followed by our Locals when adjusting their dues:
- Any general membership meeting of a Local held for the purpose of changing the amount of dues rebate shall be required to post notice of such a meeting at least 15 days in advance on the various bulletin boards that may be viewed by the membership
- Any agreed upon change in the dues rebate to a Local shall be communicated in writing to the Operations Manager. Such request shall be accompanied by:
- 1. a copy of the meeting notice to membership and date of posting;
- 2. a copy of the motion that was adopted at the meeting;
- 3. proof that two-thirds (2/3) of those in attendance voted in favour of the motion.
Dues are deducted once a month at source — that is to say, they are deducted by Treasury Board from a member’s pay cheque and forwarded to the PSAC, with the Component share being sent to the USJE by the PSAC. As noted above, the USJE National Office forwards Locals their portion of the dues.
Locals are required to submit an annual audited statement of their finances to the National Office by March 31 of each year. If the financial statement is not received, the remittance of Local dues rebates is withheld.
All workers covered by a collective agreement negotiated by the PSAC must pay union dues, whether or not they have elected to sign a membership card and join the union. This is called the Rand Formula.
In very rare circumstances, union dues can be diverted to a designated religion. However, that particular religion must have a long-standing rationale for not supporting unions as part of its dogma. It cannot simply be a convenient way to avoid paying union dues.
Unions are directly and democratically accountable for the way these monies are spent, and our goal is the best in service and representation!
Rands and the Rand Formula
What are Rands? Simply put, Rands are employees who, while paying dues, have never formally joined the union certified to represent their workplace interests. One might ask then, if they have never formally joined the union, why should they pay dues?
In 1945, more than a half century ago, 17,000 Ford workers in Windsor, Ontario launched a strike for union recognition. The dispute was particularly lengthy and nasty. It swiftly became a national issue, symbolic of the struggle by Canadian workers to gain a fair share of the wealth created by their labour.
The federal government, faced with growing social and economic damage caused by the Ford strike, intervened in an attempt to resolve the dispute. It appointed Ivan Rand, a highly respected Supreme Court Justice, to mediate the settlement. Justice Rand’s efforts were successful and the success was largely based on a new concept that came to be known as the Rand Formula.
At the time, unions were neither as prevalent nor as accepted as they are now. Justice Rand realized that not all the Ford workers would be willing to join the new and untried union. At the same time, he recognized that a secure financial base was essential if the union was to do its job properly. While not insisting on mandatory union membership, Justice Rand required all Ford workers to pay dues to the union. This is what we know today as the compulsory check-off or union dues.
Justice Rand accurately noted that all workers — whether union members or not — would benefit from a union-negotiated contract. While no one was forced to join the union, freeloading would not be permitted. If you got the benefit, he ruled, you should help pay the cost.
The Rand Formula, with its underlying principle of fairness, has stood the test of time. It is as valid in today’s federal public service as it was in the auto plants of 1945.
Do we, as a union, have to represent rands? If a grievance is with respect to the interpretation or application of a collective agreement, the short answer is, yes. If the matter is a classification grievance or a Staffing complaint before the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board.
Can a Rand member attend union meetings, have a say in how the union is run, or hold office in the union? No.
The above are some of the reasons Rand members should sign a membership card and unions should encourage Rand members to become an active part of their union local. Solidarity is strength!
Sample Local Bylaws
BYLAW 1 — NAME
This organization shall be known as Local (number and descriptive title) of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees — PSAC.
BYLAW 2 — AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
It shall be the objective of this Local to protect, maintain and advance the interests of the employees of the (department, agency, etc) coming under its jurisdiction.
This Local shall unconditionally subscribe to and accept as its governing documents the Constitution of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Bylaws of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees.
This Local shall support fully the Public Service Alliance of Canada in the furthering of its constitutional responsibility for the improvement and protection of wages, salaries and other terms of employment of all employees of the federal government.
BYLAW 3 — MEMBERSHIP
Those eligible for membership shall be employees of the department, agency, etc., in the jurisdiction of the Local who are eligible for membership in the Union of Safety and Justice Employees of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. The jurisdiction of the Local shall be as assigned from time to time by the National Executive of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees.
BYLAW 4 — MEMBERSHIP DUES
The membership dues of the Local shall be an amount established as per Section 2 of this Bylaw in addition to the amount of the per capita dues required by the Constitution of the
Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Bylaws of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees as determined by the National Convention.
Local dues may be changed by written notice to the Union of Safety and Justice Employees National Headquarters. Such change shall only be made where there has been posted notices (15 days as per USJE Bylaw 7, Section 6) indicating that the dues will be subject to change at a specified general membership meeting where a 2/3 majority vote of those attending will authorize such change.
BYLAW 5 — ELECTIONS
Each Local should describe fully the procedures to be used for elections in accordance with USJE Bylaw 9.
BYLAW 6 — LOCAL EXECUTIVE
The Executive Officers of this Local shall consist of … (Refer to USJE Bylaw 7).
The President or, in his/her absence, the Vice-President, shall preside at meetings and shall be responsible for the efficient and proper conduct of the Local.
The Vice-President, in the absence of the President, shall carry out the duties of the President and shall perform such other duties as may be assigned to him/her by the President.
The Secretary shall record the proceedings of all meetings and shall be responsible for the proper maintenance of documents, records and correspondence related thereto.
The Treasurer shall be responsible for the finances of the Local and associated records or documents.
NOTE : It may be preferable to combine the offices of the Secretary and Treasurer into one office i.e. Secretary-Treasurer. If such is the case, Section 5 above would be deleted and Section 4 would read as follows :
The Secretary-Treasurer shall record the proceedings of all meetings and shall be responsible for the finances of the Local and the proper maintenance of documents, records and correspondence related thereto.
The Chief Shop Steward and/or Shop Steward(s) shall be responsible for the representation of grievances presented by the local membership.
BYLAW 7 — FINANCES
No officer or officers of this Local shall enter into any financial contractual understanding or agreement without prior approval by the National Executive, or incur any expenses on behalf of the Local in excess of … (amount) without the prior approval of a majority of members present at a regular monthly or special meeting.
In accordance with USJE Bylaw 11, the Local shall submit to the National Executive annual audited statements of Local finances and number of members before March 31 of each year. In accordance with the foregoing, the Operations Manager of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees shall make no remittance of the refundable portion of dues until such statement has been received.
Three signing officers for withdrawals shall be approved by all Locals, two of whom shall sign all cheques.
BYLAW 8 — MEETINGS
The Local executive officers shall meet monthly except for the months of July and August.
General membership meetings of this Local shall be held (frequency).
A quorum of a monthly, special or annual meeting shall be (specify number).
NOTE : A recommended quorum is the President and the Secretary and at least ten percent (10%) of the membership.
Special meetings may be called by the President or by the majority of the executive officers of the Local or upon petition of 10% of the membership.
An annual membership meeting shall be held in accordance with the National Bylaws for the purpose of receiving annual reports, the consideration of business, and the election of officers.
Elections shall be held by secret ballot and shall proceed in the order of: (President, Vice- President, Secretary-Treasurer, etc).
BYLAW 9 — DISCIPLINE
Discipline shall be in accordance with Section 25 of the Public Service Alliance of Canada’s Constitution and the Union of Safety and Justice Employees Bylaw 12.
BYLAW 10 — BYLAWS
Bylaws of the Local may be amended by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the members present at the Annual Membership meeting, providing fifteen (15) days’ notice of motion has been given and posted.
Our union would collapse without the selfless, dedicated work of USJE Local Officers. It stands to reason that there are very precise requirements that govern the election of these key individuals.
Each Local must elect officers to conduct its affairs in accordance with USJE Bylaw 7 and Bylaw 9. Bylaw 7, Section 3, concerning Local Executives, states:
a) A Local Executive may be composed of a President, one or more Vice-Presidents, a Secretary-Treasurer (or a Secretary and a Treasurer), a Chief Shop Steward, Shop Stewards and by election or appointment, a position for an Occupational Health and Safety representative. Occupational Health and Safety shall be a standing item on the agenda of all Local Membership Meetings.
b) Each Local that is composed of one or more Sections shall ensure that the membership of each Section will have an opportunity to elect a Section President. This election will be completed prior to, or during, the Local election process.
c) All Local Officers shall be members in good standing of the USJE.
The USJE National Office has the responsibility of tracking and updating their records regarding Local Officer elections, and ensuring they are in accordance with Local Bylaws. However, it is the Local Executive’s responsibility to ensure the information gets to the National Office.
As terms of office approach the expiry date set out in Local Bylaws, the National Office sends the relevant Local:
- notice that Local elections should be held;
- a set of election forms; and
- a reminder that a new set of election forms must be submitted, even if there is no change of Local Executive members.
It is very important that the election forms, also known as the USJE Representative Information, be submitted in a complete and timely manner, as the names of all Local Officers whose term of office have expired are removed from the USJE mailing list. Unless the National Office is in receipt of new, properly-completed election forms, the Local receives no further mail or rebates.
To avoid having to take such regrettable action, the National Office sends a letter to the former Local Officers informing them that their names are being deleted.
Special Elections to Fill Executive Positions Unexpectedly Vacated
There are occasions when a Local Officer resigns from her/his position during a given term of office. An election must be held to fill the vacancy until the end of the set term of office.
To better understand the process, let us use the example of a Local Secretary who is elected in April 2015 to serve a two-year term ending in March 2017. This hypothetical Secretary is subsequently required to resign in December 2015, after serving only nine months. The Local must then hold a special election to fill the Secretary’s term for the balance of the term — until March 2017.
It is absolutely critical that the results of this special election be correctly reported to the USJE National Office. The official election form must clearly indicate that the newly elected individual is serving out the balance of someone else’s term of office. The form should not leave the impression that the Local has set out new dates or terms for its regular election of officers. Should a Local in fact wish to alter its Bylaws to change the dates of its set terms of office, a copy of the amended Bylaws must be submitted to the National Office at the time the change is made.
Extension of Terms in Extraordinary Circumstances
There may be exceptional circumstances that result in the extension of a Local Officer’s set term of office. For example, a Local member who is standing for office may not be available to assume his or her duties at the start of the new term set out in the Local Bylaws. In such cases, the Local may seek an extension of the incumbent’s term of office by submitting a written request to the USJE National Office. When granted, these extensions are generally for only a few months.
Conducting Local Elections
Part 1 — Before the Meeting
Ensure that all members are aware and are given sufficient notice of the upcoming election. Depending on the size and physical distribution of your membership, this can be done by notice-posting, by desk- drop, by e-mail or by telephone.
Circulate a reminder notice at least two work days before the meeting.
Make sure you have sufficient space and seating for the expected number of attendees. Have extra chairs available on hand if needed.
Ensure there are sufficient quantities of materials to be used during the meeting (i.e. agendas, reports, necessary documents, ballot books, etc.)
Select an Elections Chair, such as your USJE Regional Vice-President (RVP) or PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President (REVP) or a member who is not seeking an elected position to your Local.
Part 2 — At the Meeting
Separate voting members/delegates and those who cannot vote (i.e. guests, observers).
If necessary, hold a roll-call of members/delegates and distribute ballot books to those qualified to vote.
Advise the group that the Elections Chair will run the election. The Elections Chair will explain the use of the following procedure outlined below:
- Begin the election by calling for nominations. Note that all nominations have to be duly moved and seconded;
- Read out any nominations submitted in writing up to that time;
- Call for nominations from the floor a total of three times, by asking “Are there any other nominations? Are there any other nominations? Are there any other nominations?”;
- If no nominations are made from the floor, or when all nominations have been made, declare the nominations process closed;
- Ask the individuals nominated if they wish to stand for office. Those who do not wish to stand will have their names deleted from the list of candidates. Where a nominated candidate is unable to attend the election meeting, another member may vouch that the absent person has agreed to stand for office;
- An unopposed candidate for a position may be declared as acclaimed. He or she should be offered the opportunity to make any brief remarks of intent, thanks, etc;
- In order of their nomination, ask candidates in contested positions if they wish to speak or have someone else present speak on their behalf. Also ask if they wish to have a scrutineer (i.e. a representative) present during the vote count;
- Each candidate has a total of three minutes to speak. Enforce this. To avoid any suggestion of favouritism, use a digital watch or other device to time the three minutes;
- At the end of the candidate speeches, before beginning the balloting process, order the door(s) to be ‘tiled’ (or, closed), preventing anyone from leaving or entering the room until the balloting is completed and the results have been announced;
- A separate page in the ballot book should be used for each position contested. Start each individual election by announcing which number or coloured page in the ballot book that will be used;
- Collect the ballots;
- When all balloting is finished, you, your assistant and any candidate scrutineers should seek a quiet, relatively-secluded place (such as a corner of the room, a hallway, or another room) and begin the count of ballots for each contested position;
- A candidate needs to receive a clear majority of votes cast in order to win. If a first ballot results in no candidate receiving a majority, the candidate receiving the fewest number of votes is dropped and another round of balloting is held for that position. This procedure is continued until a candidate ultimately obtains a majority of votes;
- When the election is complete, ask for a motion to destroy the ballots from the voters present. The motion must be seconded and approved;
- Administer the Oath of Office as found in the USJE By-Laws book to the group of successful candidates.
All elected USJE Local officers shall take office at the end of the meeting as per USJE Bylaw 9.
Thank all concerned for their contribution to rank-and-file control of our union and adjourn the meeting.
Local Signing Officers: Duties and Rebate Process
Confusion can and does arise as to the payment of Local rebates. Problems are usually related to the questions as to who can be a designated Local signing officer.
USJE Bylaw 7, Section 10 states that: “Three signing officers shall be approved by each Local, two of whom shall sign all cheques or withdrawals”. The USJE National President has ruled that the signing officers of a Local were to be the ranking officers (President, Vice-President, Secretary, Secretary- Treasurer or Treasurer) and that one of the signing officers must be the Treasurer or Secretary- Treasurer.
From time to time, Locals will request that the rebates cheques be sent to the attention of the President and/or another Executive Officer of the Local because the position of Secretary-Treasurer or Treasurer is vacant.
Where the office of Local Secretary-Treasurer or Treasurer is vacant, the rebate cheques will continue to be paid only if there are at least two Local Executive Officers who are also designated signing officers remaining on the Local Executive. It is therefore critical that each Local designate all three signing officers.
It is the nature of the USJE membership that Local Officers are often not at the same worksite. This makes it logistically difficult for these Officers to be in place to sign documents and cheques. Therefore, the administration of the Local could be hindered if those two Local Officers are also designated signing officers. To remedy this, Locals may designate a member in good standing as a signing officer. However, the other signing officer must be a ranking officer. Notwithstanding the designation of a member in good standing as a signing officer, there must still be a minimum of two executive officers in the Local for the payment of rebates to be continued.
Locals are reminded that, upon the resignation or termination of a Local Officer also designated as a signing officer, they should inform their banking institution immediately and have that person’s name removed as authorized signing officer.
Sample Local Officers Duties
Some of the responsibilities of Local Officers include:
- Is the Chief Executive Officer and coordinates the administration of Local affairs through the other officers and Local Committees.
- Presides at all membership meetings and executive meetings of the Local and is an ex-officio member of all committees of the Local.
- Decides, by application of the Rules of Order, all question of procedures as chairperson.
- Is the chief spokesperson of the Local in its dealings with management.
- Performs the duties of the President in case of the absence or resignation of that officer.
- Conducts meetings on behalf of the President or assumes the chair when the President vacates it for any reason during a meeting.
- Is responsible for specific portfolios as assigned by the Local.
- Assists chairpersons of committees as required.
- Is responsible for the administrative duties of the Local.
- Records the minutes of all membership and executive meetings.
- Administers all communications emanating from or received by the Local.
- Administers committee reports.
- Works closely with the President on all Local matters.
- Maintains a filing system for the Local.
- Is accountable to the Local Executive for all finances receivable and payable.
- Prepares and submits financial reports to each executive or general meeting.
- Collects and deposits Local funds.
- Carries out other duties as delegated by the Local.
- Alerts the Local about Rand members (dues paying members who have not joined the union) so that they can be signed up.
The Chief Steward:
- Recruits Stewards, organizes and chairs the Stewards’ Committee/Network.
- Sets up and maintains a communication system amongst the Stewards.
- Advises Stewards and provides guidance and support in specific technical areas.
- Ensures the proper application by management and members of existing collective agreements, arbitral awards, acts and regulations.
- Solves problems related to the organization, maintenance and efficiency of the stewards’ network.
- Works closely with all Stewards, Executive Officers, Committees and Component staff.
Guidelines for Local Grievance Coordinators
Grievance backlogs have been a persistent irritant throughout the federal public service. As a result, there has been a concerted, ongoing effort to improve the handling of grievances in a more effective and timely manner.
The Grievance and Adjudication Section of the PSAC has advised the USJE and other Components that Treasury Board is reluctant to grant extensions of time limits for referrals to adjudication.
Due to this, and because of the increased number of grievances, it is important that the USJE National Office receive complete and accurate documentation from Locals as soon as possible. This helps prevent backlogs and also assists the Labour Relations Officers in providing representation within prescribed time limits.
The USJE National Office decided to implement the appointment of Local Grievance Coordinators to help improve the handling of grievances. The duties of the Grievance Coordinator are mainly administrative and they are the main communication link between the Local and the National Office regarding grievances. A Grievance Coordinator does not have to be a member of the Local Executive, but must be a member in good standing in order to take on this administrative role.
The guidelines for Local Grievance Coordinators are as follows:
1.Each Local will appoint a Grievance Coordinator and advise the National Office of the Coordinator’s name, home address, home email address and home/work telephone and fax numbers.
2.The Grievance Coordinator will monitor all grievances filed by members of the Local.
3. The Grievance Coordinator will ensure that all documentation is sent to the National Office immediately upon the grievance being transmitted to the final level of the grievance procedure.
4. Any correspondence from the National Office pertaining to grievances or subject matters relating to members’ complaints and/or grievances may be sent to the Grievance Coordinator. This includes requests for additional information, completion of Reference to Adjudication forms, copies of adjudication summaries, etc.
5. The Grievance Coordinator will be responsible for communicating with Local Officers, grievors and other concerned members regarding any requirements by the National Office.
Effective Meetings: 20 proven tips
Generally speaking, there are three categories of meetings: Information Sharing (i.e. spread news, present issues, hear presentations, squelch rumours); Decision Making (i.e. solve problems, seek common ground, plan strategies); and Task Allotment (i.e. share workload, delegate responsibility, build the Local).
The following twenty tips will greatly increase your odds of holding an effective and successful meeting:
1.Ask yourself: “Is a meeting necessary?” Could you deal with the issue as an agenda item at another meeting? By conference call? By email? By desk-drop? By one-on-one communication?
2. The choice of presenter and room set-up can vary according to the type of meeting being held. For instance, if you want to motivate rather than simply inform a group, a dynamic presenter is better than someone who may have more technical information but also has a dull speaking style. And while theatre-style seating is fine for one-way meeting to deliver information, a horseshoe, boardroom or circular set-up are best for two-way discussion and decision-making.
3. Select a convenient date, time and location. If possible, check participants’ availability, and have alternative dates available.
4. Make sure you invite all those with a vested interest in the meeting topic.
5. Send out the notice of the meeting, along with a proposed agenda, at least a week in advance. Your notice should indicate the purpose of the meeting, expectations of those who attend and desired outcomes.
6.If you are asking for feedback, set a firm cut-off point for input. Send out a meeting reminder the day before the meeting.
7. In drawing up the meeting agenda, consider who introduces or presents which items. Order agenda items strategically, ensuring you get into the meat of the meeting as soon as possible. Set a realistic time limit for each item and schedule breaks if the meeting is expected to be lengthy.
8. Prepare for the meeting. Arrange for any speakers or guests. Determine the requirements of those with special needs or disabilities. Assuming you are to be the Chairperson, make sure you know meeting Rules of Order. Arrange for required technical equipment (i.e. microphones, computers, projectors/screens, interpretation). Consider having beverages and food on hand, but check for allergies and sensitivities.
9. If not already taken care of, ask a competent colleague to be prepared to take the chair in your place during the meeting in cases where you wish to speak to an agenda item.
10. The day of the meeting, double-check the room set-up, that all required technical equipment is in place and that you have extra copies of all relevant documents for meeting participants.
11. Before starting the meeting, circulate a sign-in sheet with space for individual contact info. Discourage cell phones and pagers (have participants put on vibrate if truly necessary).
12. Briefly explain meeting goals, rules of order, policies and terms of reference. If appropriate, make sure you know who has voting rights.
13. At the beginning of the formal part of the meeting, review the agenda with the participants and ask for a mover and seconder to adopt the agenda. Accept new agenda items only if they are urgent and on-topic.
14. When introducing an agenda item, ask the item sponsor to speak to it. Keep a speakers’ list of all those who wish to speak to a particular agenda item.
15. In the interest of free and fair debate, call on others for their opinions. Ask if there is agreement with individuals’ strongly-stated positions. Squelch argumentative or personal comments. Don’t impose a phony consensus. Don’t let participants duck tough issues. Recognize good off-topic ideas and note for later or future consideration.
16.Graciously accept feedback on your role as Chair both during, and after, meeting.
17. End the meeting with a 10-minute group discussion of: what was accomplished; who’s responsible for action items; and, next steps in the process.
18. Agree on the date, time and location of next meeting.
19. Thank everyone for attending.
20. Try to send out meeting minutes within 48 hours. The minutes should clearly indicate: follow-up actions; persons delegated with responsibilities; and timelines for completion of actions.
Labour-Management Consultation Committees (LMCCs) are mandated under the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act. The LMCCs provide another avenue to fight for our members. The purpose of union- management consultation is to facilitate communication on issues relevant to the workplace.
LMCCs are an official forum where management and employee representatives meet to exchange information on policy, procedures, conditions of employment and other matters of interest to the parties. They provide a forum for:
- union representatives to communicate their views on subjects of importance to the membership;
- management to make known its plans regarding the subject under discussion, the reasons for taking such action and the expected results;
- discussing such items as proposed changes in conditions and programs; physical working conditions; equipment, tools and uniforms; and, training programs; and
- alleviating fears and prejudices created by workplace rumours.
The only topics of interest or concern not appropriate for discussion in LMCCs are those that could lead to altering or changing the intent of a collective agreement.
LMCCs do not limit management’s authority, nor do they interfere with a union’s rights as established by legislation or collective agreements. While consultation does not involve mutual decision-making or formal agreement, it does imply that management should take into account the views and suggestions advanced by union representatives.
Labour-Management Consultation Committees may be held at the National, Regional/Divisional and Local levels. This is important to note. Take the example of a Local LMCC meeting. Suppose management doesn’t have requested information, resists providing it or shows a difference of opinion on a particular topic. In such a case, the Local should forward the matter to the next LMCC level. Then, our union can ensure the problem is placed on the agenda for the next scheduled meeting at that level. Reasonable time frames, depending on the circumstances, should dictate when an issue should be moved to the next level in the consultation process.
The request from one level must include complete background documentation as well as the minutes of the LMCC meeting where it was initially discussed. Similarly, Regional/Divisional LMCC roadblocks can be addressed at the National LMCC.
Each LMCC should have two Co-Chairs — one from the union, the other from the employer. Official minutes, signed by the Co-Chairs, should be kept as a record of all discussions and decisions at these meetings. These minutes should be posted to ensure that the membership is kept fully aware and up to date.
USJE National Office has copies of the Terms of Reference for each Department that participates in the LMCC process. Local Representatives should also be able to ask their Departmental Human Resources/Labour Relations for copies of their Terms of Reference for LMCC meetings.