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All BCGEU Members at BC Family Maintenance Agency (BCFMA) - Member Engagement, Bargaining and Strike Prep Update - BCGEU


Member Engagement

Your bargaining committee has made calls to roughly two-thirds of the membership and will continue these calls through Sunday night in an attempt to reach everyone. If you have not heard from a committee member by the end of the night Sunday, we encourage you to reach out to the committee member from your office on Monday or Tuesday on your time, and not while on employer paid time, at BCFMAbargaining@gmail.com.

Thank you to the members who have taken the time to engage with us so far, and, to those who have not heard from us yet, for your patience.

Bargaining

The parties met in mediated bargaining on October 15, 2020 and continued to discuss several issues of importance to members, including a classification and compensation review, working from home and a trial modified work week schedule. The parties also discussed workload, mental health, and retroactive pay for members who have retired since the collective agreement expired.

The parties will meet in mediated bargaining next on October 22, 2020. We will keep discussing the issues mentioned above to try to clarify, expand or enhance the language of existing proposals or to create new proposals, as the case may be.

In the meantime, your bargaining committee continues to assess your employer's stance on wages and benefits as constrained by the Sustainable Services Negotiating Mandate, including the likelihood of us achieving the desired results through job action. We realize the previous bargaining committee has gone down this path already. However, as your new bargaining committee, we are obliged to make our own strategic assessment that we will share with all of you. Depending on how things go in bargaining on the 22nd, we may be able to provide our assessment and recommendations to you as early as the following week.

Strike Prep

As stated in a previous bulletin, we continue to be mindful of the strike mandate that will expire if not actioned on or before November 30, 2020. Addressing the issues of essential services, picketing safety and pandemic-specific health and strike pay remain areas of focus for your strike coordinating committee.

Strike Pay and Benefit Continuation

We are providing this information in response to questions members continue to ask.

Strike Pay

Q: Is strike pay like insurance? Would we automatically receive strike pay from the union by virtue of going on strike?

A: No. As stated in previous bulletins, a member must perform strike-related duties-usually picketing-to qualify for strike pay. A schedule for picketing and/or other strike duties would be established by the picket captains and approved by the BCGEU staff rep and participation would establish eligibility for strike pay.

Q: Would I need to perform strike-related duties five days per week to be eligible for a full week's worth of strike pay?

A: Not necessarily. The schedule will specify the minimum daily or weekly amount of strike duty a member would have to perform to be eligible for full strike pay. Members who perform the minimum duties would be eligible for full strike pay. In other words, the schedule will be built to allow all participating members to qualify for full strike pay.

Q: What happens if I cannot perform strike-related duties, e.g. due to a medical condition?

A: BCGEU policy requires members to perform strike-related duties to be eligible for strike pay. In limited circumstances, members may be able to perform alternate strike duties; this would depend on both the member's individual circumstances and the availability of alternate duties. As stated previously, the pandemic has brought with it a host of concerns potentially relevant to the performance of strike duties. Your strike coordinating committee intends to ask the BCGEU Provincial Executive if this policy might be modified to address pandemic-related concerns.

Benefit Continuation

The Labour Relations Code requires an employer to continue providing extended health and welfare benefits during a strike when a union pays the premiums. BCGEU will pay the premiums for extended health and welfare benefits to continue during a strike.

Eligibility for specific benefits while on strike depends on the wording of the plan policies. The carrier has advised us, via the employer, of the following regarding short-term disability (STD) coverage:

• An employee already on short-term disability (STD) at the time a work stoppage begins would continue to receive STD benefits

• An employee who becomes disabled during a work stoppage would not receive STD benefits during the work stoppage; instead they would be eligible for STD upon return to work (or at the end of the elimination period, if later) assuming they are still disabled and otherwise eligible

Pension contributions are not made (and cannot be made) during a strike.

 

In solidarity,

 

Kelvin Kum, Bargaining Committee Member (Victoria)
Brian Moore, Bargaining Committee Member (Burnaby)
Sherri Sebastian, Bargaining Committee Member (Kamloops)
Ryan Stewart, Staff Representative, Negotiations


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