MOBIUS Active Member Newsletter

We are pleased to present the latest edition of the Regina Civic Employees’ Superannuation & Benefit Plan Active Member Newsletter.

Inside this issue:
– New and Improved Plan Text
– Funded Ratio Improves
– Our experts answer your questions
– Möbius Holiday Hours

Click on the link below to view the newsletter:

MOBIUS Active Member Newsletter – Nov. 2018

The next Pension & Benefit meeting is posted in the Calendar.

Job Descriptions Update / Member Involvement

Job Descriptions were distributed to Management on Monday October 22nd. It is expected that they will have them distributed to all Local 21 employees by the end of the week – to allow for an opportunity to discuss the process with employees. The following process and deadlines are being committed to:

  1. Receive a copy of the draft job description from your manager.
  2. Complete the Job Description Editing Form and submit it to your manager.
  3. Managers and supervisors review and provide feedback.
  4. All feedback is provided to Human Resources by November 23, 2018.

You have a say in your Job Description!

Please ensure you speak with your manager/supervisor about when the comments are to be returned to them. If there are any comments/feedback from your manager/supervisor, they are to sit down with the employee/employees to discuss.

Local 21 encourages all members to take the time, review your job description and complete the editing form and have discussions with your supervisor/manager about any differences that should be reflected. This is your opportunity to participate in the creation of the Job Description that will be processed through the new Job Evaluation Tool.

To help facilitate this, there will be multiple “drop in sessions” for you to work on your job description and editing form with people who are part of the Steering Committee (including Union Executive at some). This provides the opportunity to ask questions of your Job Description and ensure we all work together to get each one of our Job Descriptions correct. Drop in sessions are as listed in the following link Volume 7 – JJEC Newsletter

If you have any questions, please first attend a drop in session – it will be beneficial. We would also like to encourage groups of like or same jobs to meet and discuss the Job Description together.

After this is completed, all comments will be looked at and necessary changes made to the Job Descriptions.

We will likely starting rating jobs in March/April

Maria Kotsetas, President

Recreational and Medical Cannabis in the Workplace

On October 17, 2018, the recreational use of cannabis will be legal in Canada. There are many workplace implications that will need to be considered. The City of Regina’s position on the legalization of cannabis is one that strikes a balance between the safety of our employees and residents, as well as the human rights of our employees …

Recreational-and-Medical-Cannabis-in-the-Workplace (2)

City workers get ready to bargain as collective agreements near expiration date

Four collective agreements affecting more than 2,300 City of Regina workers will expire at the end of this year, and union leaders are ready to back each other up.

Regina Leader Post – October 15, 2018

One day in early October, the heads of four City of Regina union locals met in the firefighters’ association boardroom to discuss the common struggle ahead. All of their members – 2,323 city employees – will see their collective agreements expire on Dec. 31. Kevin Lucier, who leads ATU Local 588 representing transit operators, said the four presidents updated each other on their preparations for upcoming negotiations. He said it’s wise to present a united front.

“We’re just sort of starting now,” said Lucier. “There’s going to be some benefit in communications with the rest to see where everybody is, what everyone is asking for.”

Richel Nixon of CUPE Local 7 feels the same way. “We are very supportive of each other’s concerns and will continue to work together to bring any shared concerns to our respective bargaining tables,” she wrote in an email response. The union locals have begun surveying their members to settle on priorities for bargaining. Securing pay increases in a tough economic environment is a major concern for many.

 “My goal at the conclusion of negotiations is to secure enhancements to the established collective agreement language and, of course, increases to wages and benefits,” wrote Maria Kotsetas, president of the city’s largest union – Local 21 – which represents 1,544 city employees.

The fourth collective agreement set to expire covers the 272 members of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 181.

A fifth agreement, for the 306 members of the Regina Civic Middle Management Association, expired in January of this year. A push for arbitration has hit an impasse and has been bogged down since May, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.

The standoff could be a signal for what’s ahead at the other bargaining tables. “Seeing them having a little bit of difficulty does raise a few flags,” said Lucier, “but again, we’re each going to have our own difficulties anyway.”

The city’s human resource department did not make anyone available for an interview. Its director, Steve Eger, noted in a statement that “historically the city has successfully negotiated collective agreements.” Mayor Michael Fougere wasn’t willing to comment on specifics, but he spoke to the importance of the city’s relationship with its staff.

“We want to attract the best and brightest people here…” he said. “We also want to provide the best working environment for our staff. If they work for the City of Regina they work for the best employer in the city, as far as I’m concerned. So we want to make sure that continues.”

The city is facing yet another budget crunch next year. In August, financial and corporate services executive director Barry Lacey told councillors that expenses are outpacing natural revenue growth. Salaries and benefits make up roughly 50 per cent of city spending on operations.

Fougere said he doesn’t agree with the “supposition” that the city will have to rein in salary costs if it wants to keep taxes affordable. But Lucier said he expects the city to point to those pressures as a pretext for keeping increases below the rate seen in past contracts.

“We kind of know that going in, with the economic environment that we’re in,” he said. Lucier said he doesn’t want to go to the table with unrealistic expectations, saying that will only drag the process out. But he said his members expect a fair offer.

Despite some common concerns over pay, each union has its own unique issues. Bus drivers have been trying to get a shuttle to take them from the transit operations centre to their start points downtown. “At this point, we’re sort of forced to use our own vehicles,” Lucier said. “It was actually brought up at a general meeting back in like 1991 or ’92, so it’s been an issue for some time.”

He said there’s some indication that management is “softening” its stance on the issue. But there are other disputes to work out. He said the union has concerns over a new night shift for mechanics, saying it’s essential to “address the retention and recruitment of our mechanics” as it gets underway next year. He also noted frustrations with “horrible” eye-care benefits.

“I mean, driving a bus, you kind of need vision care,” he said. “So I’m a little bit surprised that they’ve been reluctant to to improve on that” The local also feels like transit operators don’t get a “fair shake” when they file grievances through their dispute resolution process. “The deck is stacked against us,” Lucier said. He said that issue came up at the October meeting in the firefighters’ boardroom. 

Kotsetas told the Leader-Post that there’s no problem with the language on dispute resolution — as far as CUPE Local 21’s current agreement is concerned — though sometimes the way its interpreted can be an issue.

She said she doesn’t believe there are any major issues of contention between the local and management at the moment. She said the union has no indication that the city will be seeking a salary freeze.

“We are optimistic that the city will continue to invest in their employees,” she wrote. “We will sit with the city and explore options that I hope will include a monetary wage / benefit increase.” 

Kotsetas said she hopes bargaining process will be over “as soon as possible.”

Executive committee casts 10-1 vote against living wage policy

Regina city council’s executive committee concurred with an administration recommendation that Regina not adopt a floor wage of $16.95 per hour for itself and many of its contractors.

Regina Leader Post – Updated: October 10, 2018

All but one Regina city Councillor voted against a living wage policy on Wednesday, siding with an administration report that said it would be too expensive.

There were four options in the report. Only one would make the city a so-called living wage employer. It would require city employees to be paid at least $16.95 per hour. The same would apply to workers employed by service partners and contractors who do work on city premises.

That was a non-starter for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Its vice president, Marilyn Braun-Pollon, warned the policy’s estimated minimum price tag of $1.1 million would drive up property taxes and hurt employers.

“At a time when administration is going into budget deliberation and continues to look for internal efficiencies and cost savings, we believe the last thing the city should do at this time is adopting a costly living wage policy,” she said.

Braun-Pollon said 74 per cent of CFIB’s member businesses oppose the policy. She warned it could cost jobs, especially for younger entry-level employees who might not require a living wage calculated for a family with kids. She called it “a one size fits all” approach.

“While this idea might sound good on paper, in practice it’s impractical, with many unintended consequences,” she said. Most Councillors seemed to agree.  Councillor Sharron Bryce said the policy “would ultimately make it more expensive for everyone to live in Regina.”

Mayor Michael Fougere said those supporting the idea had their “heart in the right place.” But he views poverty reduction as more a matter for the provincial and federal governments than for the city. “The city is not about wealth sharing,” he said. “It’s about providing fundamental services for people every day.”

Ultimately, all Councillors except Ward 3 Councillor Andrew Stevens concurred with administration’s recommendation to maintain the status quo. The matter will come back up at a full meeting of council at the end of the month.

The debate dovetailed with ongoing interest in the provincial minimum wage — which is only $11.06 in Saskatchewan, the second-lowest in the country. Peter Gilmer of the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry drew on well-worn arguments to urge Councillors to get on board with the $16.95 minimum. “Low-income people spend all of their income in the local economy, boosting demand,” he told them. He called the apparent choice between wages and business “a phoney battle.”

Gilmer said he was disappointed with the outcome of Wednesday’s vote. “We felt that this was a way to put further pressure, that would be good for the quality of life for the city of Regina as a whole,” he said.

Stevens pushed those same points in defending the policy. He asked administration whether they’ve studied the impact a living wage policy could have on morale and attrition for city workers. While only six municipalities in Canada have adopted such a policy, Stevens said the evidence from other jurisdictions is very positive.

“There are net benefits that can be calculated, and some that have social and community impacts,” he said. “I didn’t see all that stuff coming out in the report.” He said the city should take a leadership role.

But Councillor Mike O’Donnell said the city is already “setting an example.” “We have a pension,” he said. “You can start with the city, you can get upgraded with the city, you can make what I hope is a reasonable salary and when you’re finished you are looked after.” Fougere agreed the city treats its employees well.

“The vast majority of employees in the city make over the living wage in any case,” he said. These are entry-level positions — they can move into a higher-level position.

“We are a good employer.”

Message from the President

On September 6th, the Local 21 executive hosted a round table meeting with Mark Hancock, cupe national President and Debra Grimaldi, cupe Saskatchewan regional director. We brought forth a number of items for discussion; one of those items discussed at length was cupe’s administration/handling of our Local and the lessons learned.

Following the 2016 executive elections and at the conclusion of cupe’s administration of our Local, disclosures revealed that our Union affiliations had not been paid, as well as a number of un-paid invoices surfaced and a deficit in the amount of almost $250,000.00.

Numerous financial cuts were required in order to present a 2017 budget deficit free to the members. Moving forward I’m happy to report that we are in much better shape today. That said, Local 21, national and division have a better understanding of each other and are moving forward.

With the end of a busy summer; that found many resolves to grievances within the informal process and formal grievance processes. Local 21 continues to strive to ensure integrity and due diligence within the policies and procedures that set the parameters of the work that our members do. This includes addressing contracting out, internal hiring practices and consistency of the application of the Local 21 CBA (Collective Agreement) and LOU’s (Letters of Understanding).

Local 21 will be initiating committees in the near future, and a reminder that our Collective Agreement expires at year’s end, with bargaining to begin soon after. On another note, we are looking for an amicable JE (Job Evaluation) package that will be presented to the membership for ratification. When that date is set, we encourage all the members to take part in this very important process.

In closing, I wish to address harassment, respectful workplace, violence, drugs and confidentiality within the workplace and Union environment. To be clear Local 21 under no circumstances condones harassment, violence, drugs or any confidentiality breach in any form within the workplace or Union environment.

Local 21 will not be a shield to that type of inappropriate behaviors. Violence in the workplace will not be tolerated and could ultimately lead to immediate termination of employment and possible intervention depending on the seriousness could involve the Regina Police Services.

Lastly, I want to address confidentiality. There are Civic, Provincial and Federal laws in place for the obvious protections and  Local 21 is bound to those laws within our Union environment, there are no exceptions. Our job is two fold, provide representation and achieve workplace opportunities for the members of this Union.

If you have any interest in getting involved in some capacity with our Local, you’re Local, please give me a call.

Maria Kotsetas, President