A Busy Spring For Teamsters Local 362 Pre-Board Screening Bargaining Committees

Spring has been busy for Teamsters Local 362 Pre-board Screening Bargaining Committees across the province!

Starting with Lloydminster Regional Airport, 362’s bargaining a recommended memorandum of agreement on March 26 and a renewal of Lloydminster’s agreement that saw healthy wage increases of 1.5% in the first year, 1.75% in the second year and 2% in the third year; the membership opted to split the wage increases and allocated more money into their pension plan. Over a three year term of Lloydminster’s collective agreement, the membership will see $.71 in total added to their pension contributions, helping to secure their future upon retirement. The Membership in Lloydminster ratified the renewal of their agreement with 100% acceptance on April 2.

Heading to the southern half of the province: Local 362 negotiated a first collective agreement for Pre-board Screeners at Lethbridge’s Regional Airport with the help of Shop Steward Keith Atkinson. The agreement was ratified on April 11 with nearly 100% voter turnout and was accepted by the members with an outstanding 100% approval. The agreement saw healthy increases to the wages over a four-year term at: 1.25% in the first year, 1.50% in the second, 1.75% in the third and 2.00% in the fourth year and the implementation of a pension fund that will see the Screeners earn $1.00 per every hour worked by the last year of their agreement.

Moving east to Medicine Hat, bargaining commenced in late April for the renewal of the Pre-board Screeners at the Medicine Hat Regional Airport with Shop Steward Azra Austin and Training Specialist Patricia Hayworth present. With 2% in the first year, 1.75% in the second year, 1.75 in the third year and 1.5% in the fourth year. The Members ratified the renewal of their collective agreement at 88% in favour.

Heading north to Grande Prairie: Business Agents Pei Vanden Brink and Lukas Eichel-Fominov have had the delight to spend time getting to know all the Pre-board Screeners working at the Airport in Grande Prairie. It has been a wild ride along the way! With reaching a recommended offer in late March and having the memorandum rejected by a whopping 84% on April 6 while at the same time, fending off the threat of a decertification application that was submitted by CLAC in late April 2019, Local 362 knew that we had to make some changes to make things right for our members.

In early May 2019, the Canadian Labour Relations Board ordered a vote that occurred on May 9. With high voter turnout, Agents Vanden Brink and Eichel-Fominov raced to Grande Prairie to be present to support the Membership throughout the process and let them know whatever the outcome be, we have their best interest at hand and in heart. As the day rolled on, the Membership continued to trickle in to vote and at 6 p.m., the ballots were counted and the members working as Pre-board Screeners at the Grande Prairie Airport in large voted to remain Members of Teamsters Local 362. With this in hand, both Agents Vanden Brink and Eichel-Fominov knew that it was time to head back to the table to secure a favorable memorandum of agreement for the Members that insured their trust within the Teamsters. A phone call was made that evening to secure dates for the soonest availability that the company had and a posting went up to elect two bargaining committee members from within their workplace to better represent the Membership.

On May 27 and 28, the Union reconvened with Management with the Shop Steward Dawn Randa and Training Specialist Melissa Miller in attendance. At mid-day on May 28, Local 362’s Bargaining Committee reached a recommended memorandum agreement which saw improvements in increases and additional changes to the language. For example, amendments to the article pertaining to hours of work in collective agreement were made to allow more input into the shift building and bidding process which will aid from within the bargaining unit to ensure the as many full-time positions are created; as well, the addition of language that provides a paid meal break for any member working five hours or greater.

The Union’s Bargaining Committee understood that the Membership wanted to see improvements within the monetary package, as the cost of living in Grande Prairie is higher than in other areas of the province. In doing so, Bargaining Committee Members thought constructively as to the best way of achieving this through re-negotiations. Instead of a three year agreement, the union’s committee proposed a four year term of agreement and implemented the higher percentages in years one with a 2% increase, 1.5% increase in the second year, 1.5% in the third year in the third year, and 1.25% increase in the fourth year, which was a change from the previous memorandum voted in early April that saw 1.5% in the first year, 1.75% in the second year and 2% in the third year, but with the same allocation of increases over four years into the pensionable earnings, with an increase of $0.21 over the life of the agreement.

On May 7 Local 362’s Bargaining Committee presented the recommended memorandum of agreement to the Pre-board screeners in Grande Prairie. With great enthusiasm, Local 362’s committee went through all the changes that would be housed within their new and improved collective agreement if the membership chose to accept the recommended offer. In the late afternoon, the ballot box was opened and counted by the Members present.

Congratulations were in order!  The memorandum of agreement was ratified by the Members with a stunning 95% in favour of the acceptance.

Trustees Gary Kitchen, David Cooper, Business Agents Pei Vanden Brink, and Lukas Eichel-Fominov would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to all Pre-board Screeners in the province of Alberta and a special thanks to the following Bargaining Committee Members that represented their fellow brothers and sisters in negotiations: Keith Atkinson (Shop Steward – Lethbridge); Azra Austin (Shop Steward – Medicine Hat), Patricia Hayworth (Training Specialist – Medicine Hat); Dawn Randa (Shop Steward – Grande Prairie), Melissa Miller (Training Specialist – Grande Prairie). Without your help, we would not be where we are today!

In Solidarity – General Teamsters Local No. 362.

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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is 1.4 million strong working men and women across North America, fighting for worker's rights for over 116 years!

Gig Economy Causing Serious Dangers for Workers

The gig economy has been growing each year around the world, including right here in Canada. The growth is a sign of the demand for convenience in our society. People want things brought to them and they want to be able to do it easily through an app or online.

People who are pro gig economy say that it offers a flexible option for workers who want to make their own hours and be their own boss.

But the truth is that this type of work has become dangerous for workers and the general public in a number of ways.

Car Crashes
One of the biggest sections of the gig-economy has been services that involve driving. Uber, Skip the Dishes and Door Dash are just a few of the many companies that operate with drivers. Studies have shown that extreme competition, the pressure to drive in bad conditions and work more hours has made this type of work incredibly dangerous. Research found that 42 per cent of drivers in the gig economy had damaged their vehicle while on the job and 30 per cent admitted to running a red light while working.

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No Protection
These types of jobs have almost no protection for their employees. This means that they work without pensions, job security or workers compensation coverage. Many gig economy workers have said that they have received almost no safety training and if they have any safety concerns they aren’t sure how to communicate them to the company. Even if they do get in contact with the company, their worries are often ignored.

Ratings Based
One of the biggest issues with services provided in the gig economy is that they're largely ratings based, meaning the customer gives direct feedback on your performance that can affect your job. This can have a negative effect on workers who will take abuse and not speak out for fear of getting a lower rating. In this type of work a low rating means less work and less income.

Mental Health
The mental health of those working in the gig economy is a huge concern. Although flexibility is considered really good for mental health, the other aspects that are part of a gig economy make that flexibility irrelevant. Many workers work extremely long hours, alone and isolated in stressful situations. They have little control over their job and wage. This can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to mental well-being.

Unions have been fighting for workplace rights for decades and have now shifted the focus to the gig economy. Having a union means that you have a contract that guarantees a fair wage, stable hours and job protection. You have the confidence to do your job safely without fear of repercussions or pressure to put yourself in dangerous situations. With the rise of this type of gig work, we need unions now more than ever.

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A Future Without Unions Looks Scary

Unions have been fighting for workers for decades and as they have been gaining wins for employees, naturally employers and CEO’s are fighting back.

Unfortunately, they have been somewhat successful. Union membership has declined but the spirit of solidarity has not gone away, and the future is looking brighter as young people have begun to rally around unions. In a Gallup poll that showed the approval of unions rising, millennials, aged 18 to 34, were more pro-union than any other group.

That’s good news because a future without unions could be devastating to all Canadians in many ways.

1.     Pay Would Drop for Everyone
Unions set the bar for pay for union and non-union workers.  Union members earn on average $5.28/hour more than non-union workers in Canada. That is an extra $43.2 billion into our economy. Without that standard being set, employers would no longer have to compete with well-paying jobs. Pay would drop lower and lower with no one to fight for better pay. You would see entry-level wages being lowered, while most workers end up working way harder for much less. The current trend of low-wage precarious work would spread like wildfire.

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2.     Inequality Would Rise
The goal of unions is to level the playing field between workers and employers. The influence of unions has meant that wealthy employers have to share their profits with workers. Without unions, there would be no one there to keep that balance in check. Studies over the years have directly linked the decline in unionization with the rise in inequality. If we lose unions, we lose the middle class and there would be a strong dividing line between rich and poor.

3.     You Would See More Racism and Discrimination
Unions have a goal of bringing together all workers, no matter what race, gender, religion or ethnicity they are. They also have a long history of supporting civil rights, LGBTQ rights and standing alongside anti-racist institutions. With no unions, there would be less pressure on employers to ensure that all workers could work free of discrimination in the workplace.

4.     Decline in Workplace Conditions
Most of the safety regulations we have in place today have a lot to do with unions. With no unions, workers would face working in extreme heat or cold, being forced into unsafe working conditions and extremely dangerous work environments. The government safety agencies and employers themselves would have much less pressure to follow or enforce safety protocol.

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5.     Basic Workplace Rights Would Deteriorate
We take our basic workplace rights for granted and often forget that just a few decades ago, we didn’t have a lot of the things we have today. Unions fought for and created weekends, stat holidays, breaks and the 40-hour work week. As we move into a world where automation and globalization are on the rise, not only will we have no one to fight for more workplace rights, the ones we have will most likely deteriorate.

It’s pretty scary to think about a world without unions. It’s clear it would impact not only your job but also greater society. That’s why it is so important that we support unions and continue to fight for workers’ rights across the country.