Posted August 18, 2020
Updated September 8, 2020
President’s Message | September 8, 2020
It is extremely unfortunate that Ms. Armstrong has decided to launch a personal attack upon myself and CSU 52 while I am away on a short vacation. I acknowledge placing the new branch in the wrong department, an error easily made considering the continuous and ongoing reorgs in the City of Edmonton.
I ask that you reread her letter and then read the Working Relationship Agreement and recognize that these conversations should not be taking place in a public forum. I hope that Ms. Armstrong and the City of Edmonton respect the Working Relationship Agreement in our ongoing dialogue.
I must and will be responding to Ms. Armstrong’s other comments which at the very least are extremely misleading and designed to create unrest and division within CSU52. Once again, let me assure you that your Union’s only concerns are your rights, interests and welfare.
Civic Service Union 52
While I’m away from the office, I would like to clarify my last President’s Message to the Membership (August 25, 2020). Neither myself, nor CSU 52, are opposed to either flex or remote work. The concern I have is about how the City of Edmonton has gone about surveying and reaching out to our Membership without first discussing these issues with your Union, particularly as some of the proposals directly affect parts of our Collective Bargaining Agreement. We are prepared to work collaboratively with the Employer but that needs to be done respectfully by both parties.
As always, my main concern is my Membership and protecting their rights and interests.
Civic Service Union 52
While I am taking a few days off I first wanted to touch base with you, our members, in regard to a number of issues of concern. Firstly, I want to mention the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 virus. As you are probably aware the infection numbers in Edmonton and the immediate area continues to trend up. It is incumbent upon all of us to do whatever we can to protect ourselves and others. I know we are all becoming weary with the ongoing battle and restrictions that have been placed upon us, however, in order to win this battle, we need to remain vigilant and follow the recommended medical advice. Please use your face mask while interacting in public, sanitize your hands with regular usage of soap and water (or hand sanitizer) as needed. These measures are recommended for your protection and for the protection of others – particularly those with underlying health issues. Thank you in advance.
I would like to make some comments in regard to our City of Edmonton bargaining unit and their Reimagine Project. The other Coalition of Edmonton Civic Unions’ Presidents and myself have all communicated our concerns around how the City is approaching this project and the impacts it may have on our collective bargaining agreements. We are concerned by the fact that the City continues to reach out to our membership by way of surveys that haven’t been cleared or approved by the affected unions. This type of behavior certainly informs us as to the City’s view of what the Working Relationship Agreement is and, more importantly, is not. CSU 52 is advising our City Membership to avoid surveys that do not have prior Union approval. I find it very interesting that during a time of supposed financial difficulty for the City, a new branch has been created in the Employee Services area and we continue to see reorgs in other City Departments and Branches, which all carry added costs and increases in management staff at a time that the City has laid of significant numbers of unionized staff. Normally, when you reduce staffing at the ground level, most responsible businesses would not be creating more management positions. CSU 52 will once again be releasing an updated business plan for the City of Edmonton towards the end of September. I am committing to weekly updates from your Union as we move into the fall. Stay tuned.
I believe we will see significant changes to EI benefits and generally to the social safety net in this country that will be pronounced by our Prime Minister once Parliament resumes in late September. As we have seen with the CERB program, the continual ongoing changes certainly affect our memberships and their circumstances. We at CSU 52 are committed to communicating with you around these issues as some of our bargaining units do a better job than others in keeping employees, our members, informed. I recognize the worry that members are under in this time of uncertainty and am committed to keeping you as informed as possible.
We continue to prepare for bargaining at EPCOR and the City later this fall, and expect to resume bargaining at our EPL unit shortly. My advice to our memberships, particularly in our EPCOR and City units, is to begin preparing yourself financially as these rounds of bargaining will be extremely difficult. Your Union, while making every effort to bring something acceptable back to you, may well require support from you, the membership, in order to get a satisfactory and fair agreement.
I wanted to end this message on a positive note – the ability to hold virtual meetings with our members has proven to be very positive and effective engagement opportunity. While we will continue to need to hold some in-person meetings to conduct some of our business, we are also committed to continuing the online virtual style of communication with you.
This allows us to reach out to members who, for any number of reasons, were not able to attend the in-person meetings. We have upgraded our audio/visual components in our office to allow for more high-quality online capabilities.
Thank you. STAY SAFE. Remember your Union is working for you. If you have problems or concerns please reach out.
Civic Service Union 52
Brothers and Sisters (City of Edmonton Members),
During the week of August 7, 2020, the City of Edmonton (CoE) sent you an email and put up notices asking you to complete a survey about remote work. CSU 52 first heard of Flexible Work on July 31, 2020 and was not consulted about this communication or survey. The City’s failure to consult with the Union and directly solicit information from you, the membership, is disrespectful to the Union and its leadership. Within the context of the Union’s relationship with the CoE, their behavior treads closely to an unfair labour practice.
CSU 52 is the exclusive bargaining agent for our members. CSU 52 will learn about the desires of our membership through our own meetings and surveys. These meetings and surveys will inform our proposals for the 2021 Collective Agreement. Yes, the CoE can talk to its employees, however, when those discussions can impact the terms and conditions of your employment it is paramount that the Union be consulted at the earliest time possible. This is a process problem and highlights how the Working Relationship is failing. The CoE has an agenda and CSU 52, as your representative, is responsible to protect your rights by crafting Collective Agreement language that effects changes that work for the membership.
CSU 52 knows that many of our members desire some form of remote work. COVID-19 has proven that working from home can be done efficiently with effective outcomes. We will be reaching out to the membership for input to help effect a Memorandum of Agreement that you can ratify.
The City’s survey is voluntary. Early indications are that the CoE will only gather aggregate data so as to protect the memberships’ privacy. We will follow up with the CoE to ensure your privacy is protected.
We will be entering an Open Period (where we are back at the table as our current Agreement expires in December) and we ask that you remain engaged – providing us with your thoughts and ideas to improve the Collective Agreement in these difficult times. Union strength is directly related to membership engagement. Stay safe and well.
Civic Service Union 52