PSAC to government: Keep public services stable, head back to the bargaining table

Statement from PSAC National President Chris Aylward: 

Over the last two months of the COVID-19 pandemic, PSAC members have been on the frontlines battling the virus and delivering emergency financial support to millions of Canadians. They continue to provide these critical services, they do so without a new contract, and many have not seen wage increases for up to four years.

It’s time for the federal government to fix this by heading back to the bargaining table and reaching a settlement for over 140,000 public service workers.

PSAC members  are putting Canadians first during this unprecedented crisis. They work around the clock to deliver benefits, and they face the virus head-on every day at our borders, in our federal penitentiaries, in meat packing plants as they inspect our food, and the list goes on. Thousands have also stepped forward to do completely new jobs wherever there has been a need to support the government’s relief efforts. They want to keep working but they also want a fair contract.

Elsewhere in Canada, the need to provide stability and fair compensation to public service workers during this pandemic has been recognized. The government of Ontario bargained and settled with its teachers’ unions in the first weeks of the crisis, and the Quebec government is at the bargaining table with unions representing over 500,000 public sector workers. Even large federal employers like Canada Post reached a tentative agreement with PSAC members just days ago.

And in response to the pandemic the government implemented massive changes at lightning speed across the public service (with the help of PSAC members), yet they have refused to move forward on the comparably modest task of settling a round of bargaining.

There is no reason for the federal government to delay. Canadians need a stable public service that is well supported during this difficult time, and our members certainly deserve to have their basic right to a fair contract respected.

We should also keep in mind that these are the same workers who continue to experience four years of Phoenix pay nightmares and have yet to be compensated for their hardships.

We are urging the federal government to get their negotiators back to the table with a mandate to reach a fair settlement to the benefit of PSAC members and all Canadians.

PA group: Summer leave request deadline extended due to COVID-19

PSAC has successfully negotiated an extension to May 15, 2020 for members of the PA group to submit summer leave requests in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PSAC and Treasury Board agreed to push back the deadline from April 15 in a memorandum of agreement signed this week. The employer’s deadline to respond to leave requests will also be extended to June 1.

However, employees who want to submit annual leave requests for the first two weeks of June must do so before April 15, and the employer will make every reasonable effort to respond before May 1.

The deadline may be extended depending on the duration of the pandemic.

Public Interest Commission report ties Parks Canada workers’ fate to PA group

An uneventful Public Interest Commission (PIC) report has intertwined the fate of 5,800 Parks Canada workers with PSAC’s largest bargaining unit – the PA group.

The recently published report unfortunately made little to no recommendations, instead it draws a parallel between the Parks bargaining table and PSAC’s PA bargaining table. The report quotes directly from the PA PIC report, and states that without the major common issues being resolved, such as Phoenix compensation and higher wage increases, the parties will find it difficult to reach a tentative agreement.  

PSAC is disappointed that the PIC did not explicitly make specific recommendations on key Parks issues such as:

  • parity with the core public service;
  • Phoenix pay protections and remedies;
  • a competitive wage increase;
  • fair compensation for Park Wardens;
  • work life balance initiatives, such as improved maternity and parental leave;
  • protections in the workplace; and
  • fairness for seasonal and term workers.

However, the PIC did acknowledge the struggle Parks Canada workers have had in achieving parity with the core public service since Parks was made a separate agency nearly 20 years ago. The report suggests parity with the core is an issue that will need to be addressed if the Parks Canada Agency hopes to reach an agreement with Parks members.

Next steps

Although National President Chris Aylward has authorized strike votes for the Parks bargaining unit, all strike votes are currently suspended until March 30. At that time the union will re-evaluate whether to continue the suspension or resume the strike votes. 

Despite the suspension of votes, PSAC will continue to bargain for all units currently in negotiations.

We will be updating our national and regional websites, social media, as well as sending information by email as the situation develops. We encourage all our members to check these resources regularly and subscribe to our mailing list.


Parks Canada workers to join over 100,000 PSAC members in strike votes

March 11, 2020

National President Chris Aylward has authorized strike votes for members of the Parks Canada bargaining unit. Parks members will have the opportunity to join 90,000 Treasury Board bargaining members to vote at strike meetings to be held from March 16 to May 7. Strike votes for the 27,000 members of the Canada Revenue Agency bargaining unit are already underway.

A strong strike mandate from members will force the Parks Canada Agency to come back to the bargaining table with a new mandate so that your Parks bargaining team can get a fair settlement quickly.

In the coming weeks members will receive notices of strike vote meetings via email and through your locals and regional offices. The information will also be posted on the front page of the national website, as well on PSAC regional websites.

Source: PSAC

Granville Island bargaining update

The CMHC Granville Island bargaining team, consisting of Tony Barrow, Sandy Scott, Steven Chen, Verda Cook, and Maxime Thibault-Gingras met with the employer February 18-20 in Vancouver to begin bargaining a new collective agreement. The current collective agreement expires March 31, 2020.

The team tabled a package of non-monetary proposals designed to improve working conditions as well as new collective agreement language requiring management to consult with the union when contracting work out and to demonstrate why contracting work out for special projects is preferable to hiring or training new employees.

The employer tabled a significant amount of non-monetary proposals, many of which were housekeeping items that did not affect the substance of the collective agreement or were legally required.

While the bargaining team was able to agree to over 20 of these proposals, the employer did not accept any of the union’s proposals.

At the end of the session, the team sent a clear message to the employer that during the next round of bargaining, scheduled for April, management must come to the table prepared to address monetary issues, including a fair wage increase.

Approximately 60 members of PSAC/UNE Local 20378 work on Granville Island, performing a wide variety of administrative, maintenance, and public outreach duties.


Treasury Board bargaining telephone town halls

Telephone town halls with PSAC members in the PA, SV, TC and EB groups will be held on March 9 and 10. Each call is 30 minutes long and will focus on bargaining and upcoming strike votes.

List of regional telephone town hall

March 9

  • Atlantic (English): 6pm EDT
  • Ontario (English): 7pm EDT
  • Prairies-NWT (English): 8pm EDT

March 10

  • Atlantic-Quebec-NCR-Ontario (French): 7pm EDT
  • NCR-Quebec-Nunavut (English): 8pm EDT
  • BC-Yukon (English): 9pm EDT

You can participate by calling one of the following numbers at the date and time you wish to participate.

English calls: 1-877-229-8493; PIN to join the call – 112560

French calls: 1-877-255-5810; PIN to join the call – 118363

Library of Parliament and House of Commons achieve important wins with new collective agreements

Members working at the Library of Parliament and House of Commons Operational Group and Postal services celebrate important wins with the recent round of negotiations. Both units negotiated increased access to certain leaves and improvements in the workplace.

Summary of the Library of Parliament new agreements:

  • New seniority rights for scheduling
  • Improved Bereavement Leave
  • Improved Family Responsibility Leave
  • Increased access to career advancement measures such as Educational leave
  • New protections against harassment and abuse of authority in the workplace

Summary of the House of Commons Operations and Postal new agreements:

  • The Union successfully defended paid leave for medical and dental appointments
  • Increased access to weekend premiums
  • Expanded Bereavement Leave
  • Hours of work improvements
  • Expanded access to clothing and uniforms
  • Greater access to family related and sick leaves for seasonal and other workers
  • Increased access to taxi vouchers for unscheduled overtime

Importantly, PSAC won an agreement that allows Union Representatives access to the workplace so members can have direct contact with union staff. This win helps set the bar for PSAC to negotiate similar agreements for other bargaining units so that members can engage onsite with PSAC staff.


Strike votes for Treasury Board bargaining units begin March 16

PSAC National President Chris Aylward has authorized strike votes for members of the PA, SV, TC and EB bargaining units following the release of the Public Interest Commission (PIC) report last week.

More than 90,000 members of the four bargaining units will have an opportunity to vote at strike meetings to be held from March 16 to May 7, 2020. Strike votes for the 27,000 members of the Canada Revenue Agency bargaining unit are already underway.

“PSAC bargaining teams need a strong strike mandate from members to force Treasury Board to come back to the bargaining table with a new mandate so that we can get a fair settlement quickly,” said Aylward.

Aylward noted that the Public Interest Commission (PIC) report on common issues made it clear that to reach a deal the government will need to offer PSAC members more Phoenix compensation and a wage increase in line with the cost of living. The report also highlighted the need to address compensation gaps and recruitment/retention challenges for those groups that are underpaid relative to comparable groups inside or outside the federal public sector.

The government’s current offer falls short on all fronts. They have yet to table wage increases that would ensure rises in the cost of living are met, and their Phoenix compensation proposal remains meagre and unequal across the public service.

“The threat of a strike will give the employer the nudge it needs to avoid more disruption during their minority government,” said Aylward.

“That’s why we urge all PSAC members to vote yes.”

In the coming weeks members will receive notices of strike vote meetings via email and through your locals and regional offices. The information will also be posted on the front page of the national website, as well on PSAC regional websites.

Please check out the following link if you would like more information on strike votes and strike action. We’ll be adding more information in the days ahead to answer a wide range of questions so make sure to check back.