July 2014 – News and Views

PRESIDENT/BUSINESS AGENT – RICK RATCLIFF
On pay period 15, the July 23rd pay advice, the Membership will notice a dues increase of $1.50 per month deducted as $0.69 per pay. This was brought about by an amendment to the Constitution and General Laws at the 57th International Convention in San Diego in August 2013.

This laws change was proposed by the International President and taken to the floor for debate. After a lengthy debate on the use of this dedicated per capita tax increase, the funds are to be used as follows: “…to expand education and training programs, for contract and community based campaigns and field mobilization and to advance and defend member’s collective bargaining rights and contract standards through intermediate union structures and otherwise.” The change was supported by the majority of the delegates at Convention. As your delegate at Convention I can tell you I didn’t support the change but I will not challenge the decision because it was made through fair, democratic process. This change also includes the same increase again in July 2015.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement between Local 583 and the City of Calgary expired on January 5th of this year. The Local has met with the City a number of times, working on a new deal. We had been making reasonable progress on our issues when three of our Civic Coalition affiliates (CUPE’s 37, 38 and 709) filed for mediation. Their impasse was fueled by a less than adequate wage package. The City adjusted their position on wage increases to 1.8% for 2014, 3.2% for 2015, 3.5% for 2016 and 4% for 2017. The Civic Coalition reviewed these increases and felt they would suffice. Those numbers were circulated quickly through the City ranks. Each CUPE Local had further negotiated items into their CBA’s specific to their respective work jurisdictions. Local 583 was a bit further behind negotiating when the CUPE Locals ratified their agreements. During our next two sessions with the City both parties tried hard to find common ground. We were oh so close to an agreement on July 3rd but it slipped away due to the appearance of Local 583 getting something other Coalition affiliates didn’t. We will continue to meet in the Fall and hope to come to a resolve. We won’t be rushed into an agreement and will count on the Membership’s support when your negotiating team needs it.

Negotiations at Calgary HandiBus have been slow to start. Local 583’s committee got off to a slow start due to Officer transitioning and the City of Calgary bargaining schedule. But, despite only having one meeting since the exchange of proposals we resolved 5 issues in our first session. As usual the negotiation team participant’s summer vacation scheduling does limit the number of times we can meet in July and August. Also, as usual is the length of time it takes to get an agreement. It is rare in either Bargaining Unit to get a contract in less than six months.

Virtually all Union business with management is dependent on evidence. It gives us backing during grievance hearings and when Local 583 takes concerns to management for resolve. When identifying issues in the workplace for Local 583 to address we need all the facts that are available. You are encouraged to make use of the 5 why’s and how’s of every situation. This helps make a strong case to get a favourable resolve. So please document any concerns thoroughly with time, date, name, place and issue and take copies of your documentation if you are submitting it. When required to submit reports and documentation to management and medical providers, stick to the facts. Remember facts overrule hearsay any day of the week.

Please remember that if a Member is faced with an appeal of any kind that the Officers and Stewards can provide you with support and direction. Most appeals are driven by more than one version of an event and Local 583 can help get your point across. There are often timelines attached so be aware of them and submit your position in a timely fashion. Some examples include: accident appeals (4 days), late reports (5 days), traffic tickets (as per date on ticket), disability and sick benefits (30 days). Once again I will reiterate, keep good records and a copy of all documented information for yourself.

Now is the final call to get a submission into the Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future. The Committee has already passed through Calgary gathering personal testimony from plan members. The Committee is still taking written submissions until AUGUST 15, 2014. This Committee needs to hear from the plan members on what the LAPP means to the members and how any proposed changes will have an adverse impact on members. Submissions can be made to:
Committee Clerk, 801 Legislature Annex 9718 – 107 St. Edmonton, AB. T5K, 1E4

I will once again remind our Membership that we must all work together. This can help build solidarity in a time of need such as negotiations and build a generally good feeling about camaraderie in the workplace. I bring this to your attention due to a bus window closing incident that could have been avoided. A few supervisors requested their staff to assert to Operators that it is an Operator obligation to close bus windows at shift’s end. This could not be further from the truth because the Operators put away (clear) time was reduced years ago so the agreement reached was to eliminate the Operator obligation to close windows. The reason I mention this is not to encourage Operators to do so but, to create an understanding that if someone cares to do it, the gesture would be welcomed. On the other hand if it doesn’t happen there is no cause for a negative Member interaction.

I have made it a practice to contact any Members who are assaulted when management forwards that information on to me. Rail Control has been very good in keeping me apprised of these situations. The Members involved and I continue to review the situations to see if there were things that could have been done differently from the start of the assault to the end. If there are deficiencies recognized they are forwarded to management. One of the more interesting comments made by a Member lately was the speed at which the event transpired. There was essentially no time to react. So, as a response to not being able to activate the drive-cam or anything else my advice is to scream out. Scream help, assault, fire, or any other thought provoking word to get the attention of passengers on your bus. We all know they want to be witnesses because passengers are always using their cell photos to rat us out, so put them in a position to do the right thing if a situation develops on your bus.

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT/ASSISTANT BUSINESS AGENT – NEIL ARMITAGE
Recently the Local sent a delegation to the Northwest Conference in Denver. One day was spent discussing a recent arbitration case involving a light rail train accident resulting in a fatality. The Denver Local’s lawyer, a 40 year labour litigator, presented and gave insight into his arguments that were used in the case. It took all day but it was very informative. There was quite a lively discussion over the instructions given by Rail Control to the Operator. He was told to “stand by”. It was evenly split in the room whether that meant to wait for further instructions or don’t move the train. Unfortunately he did move and a woman died. It seems clear that policy needed to be implemented surrounding communications between Rail Control and the Operator. Our Operators can find themselves in a similar situation so all we can reiterate over and over is “safety first”. Don’t move your train if you can’t see what’s going on, wait for assistance as you may be held responsible for anything that happens.

The Canadian Council lobby days in Ottawa happened in mid-May. Hermann Muller and I attended on behalf of the Local. There was a full day of media training with mock interviews and pointers on presenting our issues to the Members of Parliament on the Hill. On the 2nd day we presented our issues to Deepak Obhrai, Member of Parliament for East Calgary in his office after the daily question period. Ironically when we met with Mr. Obhrai he told us he was a Calgary Transit Operator in the early 80s so we felt he was sympathetic to our issues.

We had 20 minutes to present our position on 3 issues. The 1st issue was asking for support for Bill S221 that was being presented in the Senate by Senator Robert Runciman. This bill was introduced to the Senate on May 8, 2014. It needed 3 readings in the Senate before it could be sent to the House of Commons for passage and needs majority support by the Members of Parliament. Talking to the acting Director of the Canadian Council, Chris Byford, he has informed me that it has passed the 3 readings and will be sent to the House.

This Bill will make assaulting bus and taxi drivers an “aggravating circumstance” that the judge will be forced to consider when sentencing anyone found guilty of assault on the Operator. Recently in a case of assault against an OC Transpo Operator the judge gave the convicted perpetrator who had 17 previous convictions for assault, a six month sentence even after the prosecution argued for a stiffer penalty. Even the assailant’s own defense lawyer asked for a one year term.

Closer to home I recently attended a sentencing hearing for an individual convicted of assaulting one of our own Operators over a year ago. This Operator was in uniform while riding on the CTrain and merely asked another passenger to stop spitting on the train. When she tried to avoid the passenger by getting off at the next stop she was followed and assaulted on the platform. She couldn’t work through the effects the assault had on her and ended up resigning her position. However, I still attended the hearing with her and offered my support. She presented a victim impact statement to the judge and he was made aware that she had resigned because she couldn’t deal with the lingering effects of the assault. There was video footage from the CTrain platform showing the violent assault so the perpetrator’s actions were never in doubt.

In his sentencing of the assailant the judge made note of the psychological report conclusion that this individual had a low chance of reoffending, had been homeless for 5 years and was an angry man who could have assaulted anybody on that day. He completely ignored the Crown’s demand for jail time and instead imposed 5 months of house arrest where the assailant could continue to work during the day and attend mandatory counseling sessions. He also has to work 75 hours in community service. Following the house arrest he will have one year on probation.

This hardly seems fair when weighed against the circumstances of the victim who was forced to leave her job because of lingering psychological effects from the assault. Passage of this bill can’t happen soon enough, in my opinion that will make judges accountable for the sentences they deliver.

The 2nd issue we discussed with Mr. Obhrai was the petition that was circulated to address the long work days encountered in the motor coach industry. We were joined in this discussion by Eric Carr, the President of ATU Local 1374 Calgary, (who represents the Red Deer Transit, Greyhound and Saskatchewan Transportation members in the west). While there is no bill specifically to address this issue there are proposed changes to legislation already on the books. Mr. Carr offered to supply any information to the Member.

The 3rd issue was to discuss dedicated transit funding as part of the gas tax revenues. Surprisingly Mr. Obhrai was not as receptive as we had hoped to this concept so this may not be supported when discussed in the House of Commons. I would have to say our 20 minute session was mostly successful and that our time was well spent furthering the goals of the Amalgamated Transit Union and our Members.

FINANCIAL SECRETARY-TREASURER – ZUL VIRA
ATU 583 participates in fundraising events every year. One of the events is during the Stampede through the Civic Coalition (organized by Karen Stoshnof Assistant Business Agent of IBEW 254) for STARS Air Ambulance. The City provides two parking lots and Calgary Transit provides the shuttle bus for this endeavor. The public can park with a $15 donation and are shuttled to the grounds while the parking lot is open. This service is well received by all. Although the exact tallies have not been verified, it is estimated that over $50,000 was raised. As in the past years the majority of the funds raised will be forwarded to STARS Air Ambulance. The remaining amount will be donated to Autism Asperger Friendship Society (AAFS). The exact split of the proceeds will be decided in the next few weeks through the Coalition and cheques will be presented to both groups.

The parking capacity has increased over the last few years and this increased capacity has caused a need for more volunteers and volunteer hours. Did you know that in ten working days (and nights) forty two (42) people provided approximately 750 hours of volunteer time to make this fundraising possible? On this note we would like to convey our special thanks to the following Community Shuttle Operators for volunteering: Jag Sandhu, Kanwaldip Dhillon, Ravinder Cheema, Enisha Bhimji, Roxanne Fuller. The following Conventional Bus Operators who volunteered to drive the shuttle also had to volunteer to get their proficiency on C.S: Michaela Hannem, Patrick Denig, Pankaj Kaul, Larry Tweedale, Henry Sims, Harry Lew, Raj Jessel, Hermann Muller, Kulvir Kaler and Mauro D’Orazio. This was necessitated by the limits on the number of volunteers, the size of the vehicle and the roadway the bus had to travel on.

Keeping true to giving back to the community ATU 583 Members will participate in another fundraiser event that will be held in the fall for the Women’s Centre. During this event Members volunteer in various aspects at the Stampeder’s football game and all proceeds go to the Women’s Shelter. In this event about 15 to 20 volunteers are involved and all our Members participate fully.

An important note to ALL Operators on the sign up process: Everyone is given 5 minutes to sign up. Sometimes Operators don’t show up at their allotted time. The sign up Committee has to work really hard to match the work for no-show Operators. These selections are based in priority order as: days off, garage choice, start and finish times and bus routings. If they cannot match a shift or if an Operator is on Spare, they normally end up being placed back in Spare. Please DO take the time to go to the sign up room to pick up your work and make it easy for everyone.

RECORDING SECRETARY – MAINT./OFFICE REPRESENTATIVE – BILL JOHNSON
I was honoured to represent Local 583 at the largest ever Canadian Labour Congress convention in Montreal during the week of May 5th to 9th, 2014. We elected a new President, Mr. Hassan Yusseff and a new Secretary-Treasurer, Ms. Barb Byers as well as two new Executive Vice Presidents. The convention was attended by almost 5000 delegates. The theme for this convention was “together Fairness Works”. We also attended a rally against the Harper austerity agenda.

The new apprenticeship coordinator is now in place, Mr. Craig Szilagyi is putting the final touches on the apprenticeship program, and I believe we should be seeing postings for apprentices soon.

We now have an update for the grievance that was filed on April 10, 2013, Electro Mechanic doing machinist work. This grievance was filed as a result of a retirement of the machinist at the Oliver Bowen maintenance facility and management directing Electro Mechanics to operate the wheel truing machine which was traditionally done by a Machinist. Shortly after this grievance was filed, management complied with the resolve that we were looking for, which was to STOP the Electro Mechanics from operating the Hegenscheidt Wheel Truing machine, but because of the dynamics involved we had to proceed through the grievance procedure up to step four as outlined in the Collective Agreement. The step four grievance hearing was heard on September 17, 2013 by the General Manager of Transportation. Local 583 was willing to provide the manager with ample time to make a decision. This brings us to today and we have NOW received the decision dated June 26, 2014. In his decision he denied the grievance, upheld the decision by management and he made a couple of comments in the letter that causes Local 583 some grave concerns. He talked about insufficient work at Oliver Bowen to justify the creation of additional positions. This was never our position. Local 583 is only trying to protect the machinist position that is currently vacant at Oliver Bowen. He also talked about specialized Machinist work that will remain based at Anderson Garage or “contracted out as required”. Local 583 has significant concerns when the General Manager of Transportation takes nine months to make this kind of decision, considering that it could have detrimental effects on our work. Stay tuned, Local 583 will continue to work hard to protect our work. Contracting out is a significant issue for all the civic unions and is constantly brought to the negotiating table. I recall at the last round of negotiations, the City’s Chief Negotiator stated that if he were to allow language of any kind for contracting out that he would risk losing his job. Local 583 was okay with him losing his job rather than any of our 3000+ Members.

I spoke with Mr. Russell Davies concerning the new barn that is to be built around the Deerfoot and Stoney Trail interchange and he informed me that it is in the design stage and that they are looking for P3 funding from the Federal Government. I certainly hope management takes a lesson from the Board of Education showing that P3’s don’t work. It has been proven in the past that P3’s cost more money and OUR MEMBER’S do the best work.

In May I attended a seminar at the WCB office in Edmonton called “Life of a Claim”. The Director of Customer Service took us right from the start of the WCB claims through the whole process to where a claim ends. This tour certainly emphasized the need for all information to be supplied so the claim can be adjudicated appropriately. Please keep in mind if you are having any difficulties with respect to your claim please contact us in the Local office and we can assist you.

During the last Stat Holiday, it came to our attention from the servicelane staff that management was requiring more staff for the day and brought in staff from Anderson Garage who were scheduled to work that day, rather than bring in staff that were on days off first. Local 583 has resolved that issue with management and if they require more people they will first contact staff that are on days off at VP or SG and then go to other garages.

For Your Information
• Local 583 would like to congratulate Frank and Jean Stone on their 62nd wedding anniversary on June 14/14 as well as Cliff and Margaret Pomroy on their 60th wedding anniversary!
• Please watch for a bulletin on our Annual Retirees Banquet, September 27, 2014 at the Glenmore Inn. Tickets are $35.00 per couple for Members and $75.00 per couple for non-members.

THANK YOU Cards Received
Ron Beech Norm Luyben
Jamie Corbett Allan Waddell
George Dorn Dave Ward
Druh Farrell Wade McLiesh
Colleen Holden/ATU Support Group the Family of Percy Webb
Robert Ingram
CONGRATULATIONS
On Their Retirement –2013 – 2014
Patrick Fram – Sept ’13 – 5 years Michael Jeffery – May – 28 years
Leo Mitivier – Sept ’13 – 6 years Ronald Beech – June – 27 years
Stan Robinson – March – 34 years Colleen Holden – June – 35 years
Balihar Dhillon – March – 15 years Thomas Coyle – June – 10 years
Patrick Parker – April – 19 years Bruce Horne – June – 35 years
Jamie Corbett – April – 34 years Glen Bragg – June – 40 years
Allan Waddell – April – 32 years Satjit Rahal – June – 15 years
Richard Schlosser – April – 18 years Robert Webster – June – 35 years
Lorne Cox – May 36 years Wayne McMullan – June – 36 years
John Wyse – May – 15 years Robin Kerr – June – 37 years
Eric Khambata – July – 25 years Donald Berg – June – 15 years
Greg Laliberte – May – 34 years Mitch Ford – July – 32 years
Mark Miller – May – 34 years Alvin Martin – July – 23 years

RETIREES CORNER
Just A Reminder: The July and August Retiree meetings have been suspended for the summer. The next meeting will take place on September 8, 2014 at Spring Gardens Garage in the Plus 15 on the 3rd floor at 7:00 p.m. The next luncheon will be held on September 16, 2014 at Nick’s Steakhouse 2430 Crowchild Trail NW at 1:00 p.m.

UPCOMING MEETINGS
Please be advised that the July and August regular meetings have been suspended for the summer. The next regular meeting will take place on September 9, 2014. Meetings are held at 5325 1A Street SW. Also, keep an eye out for meeting postings at your local garage or on our Website. You can also ask a Steward or call the office for more information.
Only Signed-up Members of Local 583 May Attend

The Officers would like to wish all Members a good summer and those honoring Ramadan a Happy Eid Mubarak!
/jr COPE #397

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