May 2016 – News And Views Express

The Local’s new Bylaws have been approved by the International Union after the Membership supported them in January of this year. Along with most of the non-controversial changes came an opportunity to place new Shop Stewards and to replace Stewards who are not currently able to represent the members in the work area they were elected to represent. If you are interested in any of the new positions or the current vacancies, please express your interest to the Union office for Executive Board review. Also, you may pick up a copy of the new Bylaws at the Union office, in the Sign Up room or find them online at atu583.com.

The Broadbent Institute continues their efforts campaigning for electoral reform at the Federal level. This is a call to renew the democratic voting system that has been in place since the founding of our Parliament. Some would say the current past-the-post system is broken, evidenced by the creation of false majority governments (when the party winning more seats in the election doesn’t have the corresponding amount of votes cast). This can lead to regional imbalances that are magnified in the governing party’s decisions. To aid in this campaign to overhaul the election process to support proportional representation, a fund raising letter was taken to the Regular Membership Meeting and subsequently a $583.00 donation was approved in support of this cause. We choose this amount whenever we get donation requests for unusual circumstances to signify our Local number.

To support this campaign the Broadbent Institute has created an online petition which can be found by going to the following webpage: http://www.broadbentinstitute.ca/pr_petition. Please take the time to check it out and spread the word to family members who could support this petition. We have heard the Federal Government will be setting up a commission to investigate this important issue, which was part of their political platform in the election. There needs to be input from all sides because there are several considerations including Local versus Regional and basing who is chosen to represent a riding on the amount of votes.

In the aftermath of the wildfire in Fort McMurray, Local 583 stepped forward and contributed $5,830.00 to the Red Cross Alberta Fires Emergency Appeal. Another example of how ATU 583 sees fit to support worthy causes, both Provincially and Nationally, a nod to the Union’s social conscience which is part of the reasons Unions exist. Our heartfelt condolences go out to all the people from Fort McMurray and surrounding affected areas and all those affected by having loved ones in those areas.

Also, a big shout out to ATU Local 113 Toronto for supporting Fort McMurray with a donation of over $20,000 to the Red Cross as well.

We have noticed new City branding on the Accessible Transit vehicles and while Local 583 agrees that it looks sharp, there is an issue. Our Operators bring their best to the City of Calgary whether it be via LRT, Conventional and Shuttle or the newest addition: Accessible Transit. What some may not know is Calgary Transit decided they would share the City branding with private companies. What that means is the same paint job and same City emblem are on Access Calgary vehicles as well as other service provider’s (Southland and Care Calgary) vehicles. We have been told it was done so the Access clients wouldn’t be confused when being picked up by alternate providers. That just doesn’t seem to make sense, since Southland has been doing similar work for the City for the last 10+ years. Nothing has changed, including clients reporting out to Operators (the front line) that they do not want to ride with Southland, they want to ride with Accessible Transit. They know that way they would be getting the best service possible, compared to a private company with a revolving door of employees and whose key interest is profit. Our Operators are upset about this change because it is difficult for some clients to differentiate between us and other service providers, because we know CT provides a higher level of service. It would be unfair to be lumped in with a private company, what they represent and how they do their business. Accessible Operators take pride in their work and would like it recognized as their own. Think of how you would feel if a private company had the same branding/uniforms as police officers, firefighters or EMS because they had been contracted out to help. Would you want those private contractors helping you, or would you want actual officers, firefighter or medics? What if you were told they all looked the same to avoid confusion? We believe it would cause more confusion. As it does with our service. Our Operators give their best every day for our clients and what we represent. We have brought over 40 years of experience to Accessible Operations, are more than expert at our jobs and need to be set apart for it. The conversation will continue with dialogue on organizing the other contractors, maintaining established standards and use of a common training program. This way clients wouldn’t have to worry about telling us apart because they would all receive the same level of Calgary Transit service.
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Calgary Transit is currently developing an Operator survey. It will be ready in June. The survey will be delivered by Service Design or Operations. Management has asked our Union office to help encourage our members to participate. Please do, let Calgary Transit Management know exactly how you feel. Transit’s commitment is that there will be action taken. The more members that participate, the more accurate the results. This is your chance to voice your concerns and give needed feedback. The balance of Calgary Transit should see the survey in September.

Our Local Stewards have informed the Executive that a couple members are circulating a Constitutional Charges document. The alleged charges stem from a pay issue which started back in 2012. Yes, almost four years ago, and is optically nothing but mean-spirited. For the record, the membership has put this to rest four times now. At the start of the Executive’s new term in January 2014 charges were brought before the membership for consideration. President Rick Ratcliff spoke passionately against the charges and asked the membership to put these types of actions behind us. The membership largely supported the dismissing of the charges and the direction of moving forward, recognizing that most members do not attempt any malicious actions, but do try to be the best members they can be.

Charges are often misunderstood because the member advocating for the charge is only delivering their side of the story (often without the charge solicitor signing themselves). If we are a Union that believes in fairness it would only be fair to get the story from the point of view of the person being charged and give them the benefit of the doubt. The Union office could easily open up that line of communication and that would all but guarantee the member charged would welcome the opportunity to address any issue before a member signs their name against another member.

The preferring of charges has been a tactic used against Full Time Officers preceding an election to try to prevent an incumbent Officer from being able to run. This is just dirty politics, trying to place an unjust light on the Officer to impact their election chances. So, as requested previously, please talk to the member being charged, don’t simply listen to a biased story. Do realize this sends a message about the signatory as well.

The most ridiculous thing about the situation in the workplace today is the charge solicitor is asking members to sign a blank page. The member signing is actually unaware another member is being charged. While Local 583 recognizes it is your Constitutional right to pursue charges, please exercise extreme caution and be fully aware when signing a charges document. There may be unexpected ramifications as sooner or later those charged will get tired of the defamation and pick up a pen and counter.

During the economic downturn that we are experiencing, some belt tightening has had to happen through the City and Calgary Transit is no exception. This week we had four limited term positions ended over at Track and Way. We had talks with Management many months ago and they were telling us that they will not be filling any more limited term positions as there is no funding in place for those positions. Unfortunately we received calls from our affected members in that area letting us know they had received letters on May 2, 2016 saying they would lose their limited term positions effective May 16, 2016. We contacted the appropriate Manager to find out what was happening and he mentioned the Local was previously informed. Certainly that response was unacceptable to this Local and we passed our concern on to the Director about how it was communicated. We then contacted the Manager of Transit Fleet to see if the hammer was going to drop in Maintenance on limited term positions and his response was that there were very few limited term positions in his area and there were no plans at this time to do anything, except not fill any vacant limited term positions.

As far as vacant permanent positions are concerned, the Coordinators are being required to prepare a solid business case to the Manager to get these positions filled. We find that problematic because staff are being forced to do more with less again and again. Local 583 will continue to advocate filling any permanent positions to lessen the work load on an already thin workforce.
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There are times when questions arise at a Regular Meeting regarding how Local 583 handles financial reporting. There is a monthly voucher report which itemizes monthly expenses, followed by a financial statement which more broadly accounts for total monthly receipts and expenses. Every six months the Local is compelled by the Constitution to do an audit. Our auditor (Anda Frusescu Professional Corporation) prepares the audit which is reviewed by the International Union staff. The International then advises Local 583 of any discrepancies. We are happy to report that Local 583 cannot remember the last time any discrepancies were noted!
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The AFL Mid Term Forum was held on May 13/14, 2016. A key session was the “Economics of Hope”. This session was facilitated by Anegilla MacEwan, a senior economist who works with the Canadian Labour Congress and the Broadbent Institute. The session featured policies which could improve the economy and our societal well-being. Another key item was the launching of “Fair Start for Kids” a childcare program which was also recognized in conjunction with the Mother’s Day picnics held in Calgary and Edmonton. Further, the AFL reported out on the current unemployment and Temporary Foreign Workers situation and will be having extensive dialogue on these important issues at their Executive Board meeting in June.

Summer is fast approaching and the 22nd Annual AFL Kid’s Camp is around the corner. It is going to be held the week of August 8th for children ages 8-15 years old. The Local has committed to providing a $2500.00 subsidy towards the cost of the camp. The subsidy will be split among the attendees. The cost is $500.00 per camper less the subsidy. The final cost is identified after all registration forms are in and the subsidy is split equally among all registrants. Sign up your kids via the ATU 583 Union office!

Congratulations on their Retirement 2016
Edward Chamberlain – Operator – 34 years – April
Tony Mascoe – Operator – 29 years – April
George Ching – Maintenance -31 years – April
Vivian Sonnenberg – Operator – 13 years – April
George Connell – Maintenance – 24 years – April
Harald Strom – Operator – 15 years – April
Bill Cottingham – Operator – 38 years – April

Thank You Cards Received:
Brian Draper
Shayne Given
Bob Hykaway
Mike Mahar
Heidi McCartney

Contibutors this month
Rick Ratcliff – President/Business Agent
Neil Armitage– Executive Vice President/Assistant Business Agent
Zul Vira – Financial Secretary/Treasurer
Bill Johnson – Recording Secretary/Maintenance/Office
Ab Huskic – Executive Board Accessible Transit

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