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President’s Report 2008

October 22, 2008

On behalf of myself and the Executive Council, we would like to welcome each and every one of you to Local 00051’s eighth annual general meeting.

This past year has been hectic as usual but a very proud one as this is the very first time in the history of the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Union of Taxation Employees that a Collective Agreement was negotiated before the previous one has ended, a historic milestone in its bargaining history.

During this round of bargaining, the parties negotiated the conversion to a new Agency classification standard, an economic increase of 2.5% for each year during the life of the contract, changes to the Agency’s policy on term workers and enhanced benefits for part-time workers including improved overtime provisions, as well as overall gains in personal and bereavement leaves and some improvement in vacation leave.

In July, myself, Robin Johnson, Rocco Scalera, Greg Sabat and Hamid Akbar attended the UTE National Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia on behalf of the Local.  At this convention, we accomplished a great deal of work.  The budget was adopted, which included a monthly dues increase of $0.25 for each 2009, 2010 and 2011 (if required). Resolutions were carried to hold three Regional Health and Safety Conferences and a National EAP Conference before the next Convention.  Re-elected to their positions were Sister Betty Bannon, National President, Brother Bob Campbell, 1st National Vice-President and Brother Denis Lalancette, 2nd National Vice-President.  It was also at this Convention that Robin Johnson, of our office, was elected as Regional Vice-President (RVP) of Greater Toronto and Esther Burt, President of Local 00048 was elected as Alternate Regional Vice-President.  Congratulations to the winning incumbents!

It was also in July that our members of the Eastern Distribution Centre (also known as Keaton Warehouse) were given the shocking news that the warehouse would be closing its doors in July, 2009 and that the function of the warehouse would be relocated to Winnipeg. As a result, we also lost the opportunity of being the mailroom hub for Greater Toronto.  This function will be performed by Sudbury in November, 2008.  Because of this move, we now have 35 employees affected by this change.  The majority of these employees are SP02s and are the lowest paid in the organization and, what makes our task to place them quite daunting, are the limited positions available for this grade and level.  But with the co-operation of the CRA, employees and union representatives we hope to prevail and, if possible, see no lay-offs happen.

We have also worked hard within the past year in regards to accommodation within the workplace.  We are still finding a lot of inconsistencies, barriers and inappropriate application of the Duty to Accommodate Policy.  In many instances, the Employer is still insisting that the only way a member can be accommodated is with the approval from Health Canada.

We are still pursuing all accommodation requests on an individual basis, as all needs are not the same.  We are also continuing to push the Employer to accept a letter from the employee’s treating doctor rather than going to Health Canada, as going to Health Canada can only result in further suffering and deterioration of our member’s health.

Because of the difficulties in handling accommodation issues, it has been recognized by our Director, Anuradha Marisetti that training for Senior Management to team leaders would be helpful.  To this end, she purchased CDs of two (2) audio conferences held by Lancaster House which deal with accommodating “invisible disabilities” like mental illness and conditions relating to workplace stress and deals with issues involving access to and disclosure of medical information during the accommodation process.  This information will subsequently be rolled out to management in the near future.  In September and October, information sessions were rolled out to management regarding the Agency’s Illness and Injury Policy.

In Solidarity, 
Rita Hinchliffe
President, UTE Local 00051 
Toronto West