Memorandum From the Canadian Labour Congress to Garda YYC Pre-Board Screeners

The following is a letter from the President of the CLC in support of the current Garda PBS union, Teamsters Local 362, and their continued efforts to represent you in the workplace.

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Importance of Breaks

Unions have fought for many rights in the workplace. Safe workplaces, weekends and good wages are just a few.

One important right we have in the workplace, that we don’t always think about, is breaks. Taking time out from your work is so important – you need to recharge, eat and have a break from you tasks.

Our members who are employed by GardaWorld as pre-board screening officers in Calgary and Edmonton, are not getting all of the breaks they are entitled to. This is a huge concern, as the safety of airline passengers is in their hands.

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Here are reasons why breaks are so important for all workers.

1.     Breaks keep us focused

Going on a break has been proven to actually refresh your attention span and increase your concentration. It is recommended that people who work jobs that involve inspection or monitoring should be offered frequent short breaks to reduce human error.

2.     Prevents Burnout

According to the American Psychological Association, being able to walk away from your tasks at your job and truly take a break will prevent burnout. Even 10 minutes can lower stress keeping employees healthier and happier.

3.     Prevents Accidents

Fatigue is one of the major cause of accidents on the job and allowing employees to get the breaks they need can prevent this. This is especially important for someone who is in charge of the general public’s safety.

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These pre-board screeners have been guaranteed a certain amount of breaks in the collective bargaining agreement. It is so important that they are allowed to take these for the safety of all passengers and the health of these employees.


Alberta Pre-Board Screening Officers Deserve Better

When we board a plane, we take comfort in knowing that every step is being taken to ensure the safety of ourselves, family and all fellow Canadians.

And the first line of defence in this process are the pre-board screeners. Our safety is in their hands.

They are not just confiscating liquids and random personal items as you go through security. They are trained extensively to make sure that we are safe when we fly, and it is something that the general public doesn’t always think about.

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Calgary and Edmonton have two of the busiest airports in Canada, and screening officers deal with keeping thousands of people safe every single day. In 2016 the Calgary International Airport had over 15 million people go through its gates, and Edmonton had over 7 million.

These officers deserve to be treated with respect in the workplace.

But unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case.

Just one example is at the Edmonton International Airport, where to date the employees have filed over 900 grievances on the simple issue of taking a break. Individuals have been forced to work full 8 and 10-hour shifts without taking all the breaks they are entitled to. They have experienced changes in rules regarding being able to get access to drinking water, face challenges when it comes to grabbing a snack or even going the washroom.

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How are they supposed to do their job of keeping us safe without being able to properly recharge and refresh themselves?

Teamsters Local 362 has decided to start an initiative to support these workers who are entitled to breaks in their collective bargaining agreement. We need GardaWorld and CATSA to address these issues, and we need Albertan’s to help us make a difference.

By sharing our initiative and reaching out to people who can help change their situation, you can make sure they are no longer treated this way. It’s time to give them a break.

Teamsters Shop Steward Goes Above and Beyond to Help Stranded Couple at Airport

There is going the extra the mile at your place of work and then there is what Teamsters Local 362 Shop Steward Pei-Ling Vanden Brink did last month.

Pei works at Garda Pre Board at the Edmonton Airport and has been there for 6 years. On May 14 while on shift she was asked to help a couple from China who only spoke Mandarin, and who had been through quite the ordeal.

While on a flight back from Dallas to Shanghai as part of a tour group, the flight had to be grounded in Edmonton due to a medical emergency on board. While EMS was on the plane dealing with the medical emergency of another, the gentleman who only spoke Mandarin complained of being nauseous. The EMS and tour guide said he should get off the plane and be treated.

It turned out he was fine, but when he and his wife tried to get back on the plane they were stopped. According to the flight records, he and his wife were still on the plane. They would not let them back on.

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They were stuck in Edmonton – not able to speak English and all of their luggage on board except for one small bag with their passports. No money, no food and no idea what to do.

That was when Pei was called at around 8:30 p.m.

“They kept telling me that they were fine when I asked if they needed anything, but I could tell that they were upset,” Pei said of her interactions with the couple.

She translated everything to the airline and was on the phone with the tour company for hours trying to find them a flight home. There were no direct flights to China from Edmonton, but she did find a flight from L.A.

Although she was supposed to be finished work at 10 p.m., she accompanied them to the airport hotel at nearly midnight. She bought them food and made sure they were comfortable, and explained that they needed to be at the counter at the airport at 6 a.m.

Even though Pei had the day off, she went and met them the next day at 5:30 a.m. with tea, a cell phone charger and medication for the woman who had mentioned having a headache.

And then she purchased the tickets for them to go to L.A. and get a direct flight home.

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“She is from Taiwan so she understood their culture,” explained Ernest Poetker, a fellow Shop Steward who has worked with Pei for six years. “When they arrived home a day and a half later, they called Pei and said they considered her their daughter.”

Pei said she has talked with both the family members and the couples since they have been home quiet a few times.

“She reminded me a lot of my mom,” said Pei, adding that she is happy they still keep in contact.

Pei’s kindness helped a couple who would have been in a lot of trouble without her and we couldn’t be prouder to have her as a member of Teamsters 362.

GardaWorld Employees Are Safe And Supported after Robbery Attempt In Edmonton

A man is dead after an attack on two GardaWorld armoured truck guards outside a southwest Edmonton bank early Friday morning.

Police said the guards were approached by two men, who demanded cash from the GardaWorld employees then pepper sprayed them.

One of the guards fired his gun, shooting the suspect and leaving him dead on the scene.

The man had a lengthy criminal record according to CBC news and was on probation.

GardaWorld Security issued a statement saying the involved guards are safe and being supported.

“Following an attack on our operations this morning July 8, our crew is safe and we are providing support to them and their families, as well as to our employees at the Edmonton branch. The incident is under investigation and we are fully co-operating with the Edmonton police department. We cannot provide any additional information at this time.”

Teamsters Local 362's Business Agent Jordan Madarash immediately reached out to the members in question letting them know that the Local is there to provide any support they may require.

Incidents like this reinforce the importance of mental health supports in the workplace.

Just last month marked four years since the HUB Mall tragedy when G4S employee Travis Baumgartner shot Eddie Rejano, Brian Ilesic, Michelle Shegelski and Matthew Schuman, four of his co-workers at G4S in Edmonton.

Teamsters 362 decided to embark on a campaign looking at the stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace and the need for more support calledMake It Mandatory.

We are still working to spread awareness and push for more mental health resources for employees.

Garda Arbitration Decision sets Precedent

When employees are not paid fairly for their time, they need someone to stand up for their rights.

And a recent arbitration decision proved why having a union to back you up is so important when fighting for those rights and negotiating for a fair workplace.

An issue regarding training was brought forward recently for Garda pre - board screening members at Edmonton and Calgary International Airports.

Transport Canada requires that employees must have an RAIC (Red Pass) in order to perform their duties as a screening officer and this pass is issued by the airport authority.

The company’s position was that this was not a certification that should be their responsibility, but rather the responsibility of the client, CATSA.

Members were doing this certification test on their own time and without pay.

Teamsters 362 believed our members should be compensated and paid for the time they spent on the training and any future time they spend on it.

We proceeded to arbitration with the employer, and in the end, they decided in favour of our members.

The arbitrator agreed with the argument that without the RAIC, the employee cannot perform their duties. It is not just a ‘request’ but rather a requirement of their role.

“This was great precedent to set going forward for future issues of training that may occur in one of our many industries that we look after,” said Jordan Madarash, Business Agent with Teamsters Local 362.

Members that already did their renewal will be compensated and all those who do the renewal moving forward will be compensated.