On June 20, 2018, we organized three webinar information sessions for the RCMP Civilian Members (CMs) who, following a decision from the Federal Labour Board on April 13, 2018, have been included in our union.
For many Civilian Members, this is their first experience as a unionized worker. The webinar provided an opportunity for Isabelle Roy, General Counsel and Chief of Labour Relations Services to explain the history of how RCMP Civilian Members came to be unionized. She also addressed general concerns about being a unionized worker and answered participants’ pressing questions.
For those of you who missed the sessions, here is a recap of what Isabelle Roy covered.
You can listen to the three audio files.
Session 1 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm (English)
Session 2 from 1 pm to 2 pm (French)
Session 3 from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm (English)
What led to the unionization of RCMP Civilian Members?
Roy: In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a decision in a case called the “Mounted Police Association of Ontario” (MPAO) that recognized it was unconstitutional to prevent Civilian and Uniformed members, in the RCMP, from being included in bargaining units.
Civilian Member were previously denied freedom of association under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Because of this, the Public Service Labour Relations Act was amended to allow Civilian and Uniformed members to be employed by Treasury Board and subject to the same unionized environment as the Federal Public Service.
The Employer was tasked to take concrete steps in order to ensure a practical transition into the core public service for Civilian Members.
This is referred to as the “Deeming process.”
Why was PIPSC chosen to represent this group of Civilian Members?
Roy: Unions, including the Institute, were consulted by the RCMP and Treasury Board, long before the Mounted Police Association of Ontario (MPAO) decision was issued.
The Institute identified two main risks between the date that they were unionized (April 13, 2018) and the date they would be deemed public servants (2020):
- Civilian Member did not get the benefit of a bargaining agent; and
- No one was able to speak on their behalf once the Deeming date came along.
In order to mitigate these risks, the Institute applied to the Labour Board for confirmation that work being done by Civilian Members was work that was already covered by existing bargaining certificates within PIPSC. The Labour Board consented, and as a result, approximately 1,400 Civilian Members were declared part of the Institutes’ existing bargaining units.
Current Civilian Member terms and conditions will remain unchanged until the Institute is able to negotiate the transition into existing Collective Agreements.
How will the transition affect Civilian Member negotiations?
Roy: The Institute is reaching out to Civilian Members in order to find representatives who will sit at the bargaining table. Key staff and knowledgeable representatives from other bargaining units, will be trained to negotiate the integration of Civilian Members into existing Collective Agreements. Negotiations will be framed under the Federal Public Service Relations Act at a bargaining table and will be annexes to the Institutes’ current Collective Agreements. After the first round of bargaining. These annexes will be subject to negotiations under their respective group Collective Agreement.
Why are Civilian Members transferring into the union before the deeming date?
Roy: The most important benefit to Civilian Members joining a union is having a collective voice to assist in defending their interests. That voice will be essential at the bargaining table and during various consultations with the Employer. Civilian Members are also entitled to benefit from the services of our Labour Relations professionals.
The Institute has seven Regional Offices across the country staffed with Labour Relations Officers and Employment Relations Officers who are trained to assist employees. In addition, the Institute has a number of Stewards in the workplace. Stewards are fellow public servants who have received training and assistance from the Institute to help them represent their colleagues in the work place with various issues that may arise with the Employer.
When are Civilian Members going to pay union dues?
Roy: Dues collection will begin on November 1, 2018. This date will allow everyone involved a longer period to adjust to these changes. Dues are set at the amount of $72.56/month and are determined by our membership at PIPSC’s Annual General Meeting.
Can a Civilian Member opt out of the union?
Roy: In Canada, our legislation provides that everyone who benefits from a Collective Agreement must pay the dues associated with that Collective Bargaining Agent. Whether or not people choose to sign-up as an active member of the Institute, the deduction and remittance of dues will occur. Based on the legislation, the only exception to paying union dues and being unionized is religious observance.
How are staffing and job opportunities within the public service going to be addressed?
Roy: If a current Civilian Member applies for a job in the public service and is successful, then by accepting, they also accept the terms and conditions of that position. If this is done before the deeming date, then they wouldn’t be affected by what the Institute negotiates for Civilian Members. For the purposes of the selection processes, Civilian Members are considered a person employed in the public service.
How will the deeming affect the pensions of Civilian Members?
Roy: Accrued pensionable service credits under the RCMP Plan will be automatically transferred into the Public Service Pension Plan upon deeming. Included in that is a member’s current RCMP Service years on the day of deeming and periods they may have bought back when they came into the RCMP Plan.
The effective date for this transfer is the deeming date.
If a Civilian Member were to retire before the deeming date, they would retire subject to the terms of the RCMP plan. If they retire after deeming date, they will be subject to the terms of the Public Service Pension Plan.
After answering the questions that Civilian Members had sent in before the webinar, Isabelle began live Questions. Here are some highlights of the questions submitted by Civilian Members during that period:
Q: What services and advantages do my union dues give me access to?
Roy: You have the right to representation for Labour Relations issues and the right to a collective voice in the workplace. Should you decide to sign our membership application form, you have access to training, can vote on Institute business, become a Steward and use our Member Benefit program Service Plus (http://www.pipsc.ca/member-tools/member-benefits)
Q: What if the decision of deeming is reversed?
A: The Employer and the Union have come to an official agreement. Since both parties have taken these important steps, it is highly unlikely that the deeming decision will be reversed.
Q: Are submitted Membership Applications confidential?
Q: Payroll dates differ from Civilian Members and the public service. Will this change?
Roy: Pay dates will be subject to change in the future. Please refer to the internal RCMP document “Deeming and Your Pay.”
Q: What should a Civilian Member do if they do not agree with their classification and pay matching in the public service?
Roy: If you believe that you have not been properly classified, can reach out to email@example.com and a representative will be in touch shortly to discuss this issue with you.
Q: Are managers part of the union?
Roy: The tasks carried out by a position determine whether or not a person should be part of a bargaining unit. If you believe that your assigned duties should be excluded from the Institute, contact RCMP Management as they are responsible for making the request to Treasury Board, who will then consult with PIPSC.
Q: Will our current Terms and Conditions be grandfathered into our new collective agreements?
Roy: Your terms and conditions remain the same until the Institute can negotiate the transition. A tremendous amount of work is being done to compare your current working conditions and those of your new Collective Agreements. Grandfathering is certainly an option.
Q: What will happen to the current Civilian Member sick leave plan?
Roy: Under the RCMP Act, Civilian Members have an unlimited amount of sick leave. This is one of the issues that will be subject to negotiations with the Employer. It is important to note that PIPSC is currently negotiating a new Employee Wellness Program for its current members that is similar to the disability management framework at the RCMP. This will allow for better coverage of disabilities and chronic illnesses.
Q: Why is PIPSC only reaching to Civilian Members now?
Roy: Before April 13, 2018, we did not have the data or your contact information. Now we are able to provide updates on our current efforts.
In the coming weeks and months, you will see an increase of engagement activities by the Institute. Should you want to help us organize a visit at your worksite, please reach out to PIPSC Mobilization team at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have additional questions, please also don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We will continue to provide updates on the progress of the transition as new developments occur. Be sure to sign up at https://action.pipsc.ca/ (bottom of webpage) to receive our latest communications.