February 2015 – News and Views Express

The first newsletter of the year (yes it is a bit later than planned due to some bereavement, the flu and a vacation) seemed like a good opportunity to reflect over the last year. It was the first year for the board elected in for the 2014-2016 term and we had many successes and faced some hardships.

The Local engaged a new auditor in 2014 and despite a slow start getting our audits to the International; we are now right on time with them. Our Financial Secretary Treasurer and his Financial Administrative Assistant have both attended seminars that have moved our book keeping and the technology surrounding it ahead by leaps and bounds. We will continue to seek the Auditor’s advice on all tax and accounting updates.

The Local introduced a new Steward’s list with photographs included to make our Stewards more recognizable to the Membership. Photographs are also starting to be included in our newly formatted newsletter to help bring a higher profile to our members and Stewards. The Executive feels it is important to get information out to the Membership on a regular basis.

In early 2014 Local 583, under the direction of the AFL Pension’s Coalition and with the involvement of our members, pushed back the Provincial Government’s mandate for pension reform in our LAPP. We don’t feel this battle is completely over yet, but with the Membership’s involvement we can continue to have our position heard.

Local 583 ratified 2 Bargaining Unit contracts in 2014. The main Bargaining Unit contract for the period of 2014-2017 is being viewed as arguably the best in the municipal and public sectors in Canada. In many bargaining jurisdictions it was named The “Calgary Deal” and was developed with our Civic Coalition partners. Despite the Northern Coalition’s best intentions, the deal struck in Edmonton was 13% over 5 years (and up to 0.5% in benefits if eligible), the slumping oil prices impacting their resolve.

The Calgary HandiBus Association contract didn’t have too many changes but it has opened the door to an opportunity to get these members moved “in house” at Calgary Transit. For the record we have the Canadian Director, Mike Mahar involved in these talks as he was involved in the move of the Passenger Agents in 2002 and has been involved in many CHB bargaining sessions.

Our Social Committee came into 2014 as large as it has ever been, encouraging the Executive to take some new ideas to the floor for approval. This committee coordinated a great Family Picnic at Heritage Park which went over with rave reviews.

The Women’s Committee has become very active and is being chaired by one of our Stewards; they are planning an open house soon to encourage the committee’s growth.

One of the obstacles the Local has encountered this year has been 2 loosely structured misinformation campaigns. One was surrounding contract negotiations and the other around a proposed bylaw change brought by a member in good standing. Once again the current campaign offered inaccurate information, including allegations of a dues increase of $120.00 and other assessments up to $1500.00/month.

Another disappointment out of 2014 is the demise of the apprenticeship program discussions. In early 2014, Management contacted Local 583 to begin talks on restarting an apprenticeship program. Initially they were looking for 6 to 9 unbudgeted positions because they couldn’t get funding for permanent positions. The Collective Agreement has language for apprenticeships, but we needed to come to an agreement by way of letter of understanding. After several months of meetings trying to come to an agreement on protection for permanent employees that enter into the apprenticeship program that may be unsuccessful in the end, we were not able to agree on a final letter of understanding. When Local 583 put forward our final position on this letter, Management’s impulsive reaction was to cancel the program. Local 583 is disappointed, but given the current economic conditions it was predicted. We will see if Management continues to feel this way in the future if they have difficulty hiring trades people.

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As you may be aware there has been a change in the General Manager’s position over at Calgary HandiBus. Pat Pellegrino has stepped in to replace Zorana McDaniel in the top job. This happened in December and ATU 583 is optimistic that it bodes well for the planned transition to bring the essential service performed by the Members of Calgary HandiBus to Calgary Transit.

Mr. Pellegrino is quite familiar with Calgary HandiBus, returning after he had retired from the General Manager’s position a few years ago. ATU felt it would be a good time to revisit the ongoing grievances filed at Calgary HandiBus with Mr. Pellegrino to see if there could be any resolves worked out on behalf of the members. In January Rick Ratcliff, Ab Huskic (Chair of the HandiBus Bargaining Unit) and I met with Pat, Verne Fielder and Tom Mulroy at HandiBus, going through all the grievance files in detail. I would have to say it was a very productive session as we were able to come to a resolve on five grievances that day with ongoing discussion regarding another. As for the balance, we will continue to work on them through the process that is in place and will keep you informed on their progress at the monthly meetings.
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Bill S221 is progressing, Canadian Council Director, Mike Mahar passed on to us that it will be going to the House of Commons for third and final reading on February 6, 2015. So be sure to listen to the news on that date, with all the positive support behind it the media should cover the story as it happens.

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A couple of exciting new things that are being trialed are: Conventional Bus sign up is now on a web page, and the LRT sign on is running concurrent with the bus sign on. We are aware that the LRT sign on method has a few glitches and we are currently working to improve that. The sign up web page includes all the runs available for viewing. Members are encouraged to view the system in order to check the runs to help prepare for sign on.

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We were thrilled that the Children’s Christmas party this past year was a huge success. An estimated 200 children registered at the party itself, which is unusual. So, in lieu of this happening again, a gentle reminder and kind request of our members to register their children in advance. This will allow for the Union to make certain we are well prepared with the appropriate amount of gifts so no child will go without one.

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Please remember as per the Local Bylaws that all members are required to inform the Union office on changes of address. New phone numbers, beneficiaries, etc would be great too, so that the member information roster is kept current. Please note that this updated information will be integral to the upcoming BOOM card distribution.

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Congratulations on their
Retirements 2015:

Richard Connors – Maintenance – January – 10 yrs
Sushil Sagar – Maintenance – January – 35 yrs
William Easthope – Operator – January – 37 yrs
Myles Skoblack- Maintenance – January – 40 years
Steve Egyed – Operator – January – 37 yrs
Robert Smith – Operator – January – 35 yrs

Thank You Cards Received:
The Family of Ed Astalnok
Nirpal Kaler
The Family of Chester Hall
The Family of Nancy Kilburn
Colleen Holden
Nizar Mukadam

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

COPE 397 /jr

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