Bullying and Harassment | City of Edmonton

Updated July 20, 2018

Posted July 20, 2018

President Lanny Chudyk read out the following statement to City Council on July 5, 2018.

Thank you, Joe Childs, for articulating where the parties remain divided on this process. The Union can agree that if these outstanding concerns are addressed, we will have greatly improved the investigations of harassment and discrimination specifically.

I’d like to take a bird’s eye view and remind all parties that the City opted for third-party investigation in reaction to a cultural issue, not an investigation issue, though surely there was also an investigative issue.

The cultural issue is not new as the Unions well know and as several Engagement Surveys and the more recent Cultural Audit show. What is new, is the impetus to do something about it. There is, more or less, the same leadership team in place now as before, so what changed?

From our perspective, public media scrutiny is what changed.

The office of the City Manager has tolerated, if not proliferated, a culture of discrimination and harassment for years if not decades. The process to rectify a cultural issue is not likely to be successful if led by the same parties that created or sanctioned the problematic culture. Organizational culture is established by the worst behaviours that leaders are willing to tolerate, and/or the behaviours that they themselves inhibit.

In Linda Cochrane’s report being considered by Council, she recommends that her office retain authority over the proposed process governing the conduct of city employees. While these recommendations are generally based on a report by Deloitte, it is important to know that Deloitte was hired by Ms. Cochrane and as the consulting firm, they walk a fine line between challenging the status quo and future (often lucrative) contracts with the City. Unfortunately, this raises doubts about some of the recommendations in the Deloitte report, particularly when they fail to acknowledge the dangers of continued consolidation of power within the City of Edmonton Administration.

In terms of addressing the overarching issue of institutional culture, the Union sees the following as steps in the right direction:

That the City commission an independent workplace harassment audit, including an audit of the Office of the City Manager.

Regardless of what further evidence of harassment and misconduct an audit uncovers, a guiding principle of impartiality needs to be applied in how future harassment and discrimination complaints within the City of Edmonton are managed. Whether oversight and governance of the complaints process is under a properly resourced Office of the City Auditor or through an external third-party agency that reports regularly to a Committee of the Council, the Office of the City Manager must not have authority over the process.

Lastly, the City Manager has referred to the Unions as ‘partners’ to the development of this third-party process. In reality, the Office of the City Manager and Deloitte consider conversation with the Unions as having ‘consulted’ us and satisfied our needs in the process. This frame around Union participation implies concurrence which is untrue, misleading and further strains the working relationship. This does not meet the Union’s standard of partnership.

If the City wants to solve the larger cultural issue, where 20% or more of employees feel harassed at work and lack confidence in the employer’s reporting process, City leadership need to see the Civic Unions as a legitimate third party, unencumbered by civic dollars, and as a healthy check and balance to the process.

The Unions have a lever to hold the City accountable and to force production of information. It is a lengthy and costly mechanism – the grievance procedure inclusive of arbitration. We can only advise our members to pursue an alternate process which is transparent, timely and less costly than the process we already have.

Posted November 28, 2017

City of Edmonton Members, please attend this meeting alongside your colleagues to learn more about the Union’s stance in regard to the pressing City of Edmonton workplace issues, which have recently been brought to light in the news media (Edmonton Journal, CBC News). Edmonton Police Service Members are also invited.

UnitMeeting.CSU52(2017-12-06)

 ‘December 6, 2017 Information Session’

Posted November 17, 2017

As you may be aware, Linda Cochrane (City Manager) sent an email to all City employees late Thursday afternoon speaking to the harassment, bullying and discrimination articles that have been front and center in the media over the last few days.

In that email, she states, and I quote, “Hearing that colleagues or staff feel harassed is both painful and inexcusable. You need to know that we have collaborated with union and association presidents over the past few months to develop a better complaint-intake and review process that makes paramount the dignity of everyone involved.”

I must respectfully disagree with the suggestion that the union presidents have in any way collaborated in putting together a new internal process to deal with complaints. All I can say in regard to the City Manager’s comments around recent collaboration with union presidents, is that she either misspoke or has been given inaccurate information.

I want to assure our Membership that CSU 52 continues to insist on a process that is completely external from the City of Edmonton management, labour relations and human resources.

 

In solidarity,

Lanny Chudyk
CSU 52 President

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