Volume 22 | Issue 3 | March 2022
At the March Joint Union-Company Committee (JUMC) meeting, one of the agenda items we discussed was the grievance backlog. In fact, this issue has been on the agenda for ongoing discussion for over a year. We currently have 163 active grievances; even at the unrealistic pace of running an arbitration every week, it would take us over three years to get through the grievances we currently have filed. Obviously, a better solution is needed.

In the last month we have met with the Company on nine grievances; six Step 1 meetings and three Step 2 meetings. The separate Step 2 meetings were for our members that were terminated. Article 14 of the CBA stipulates that all termination grievances skip Step 1. While there has been movement in some areas, major issues remain as points of tense conflict.

We have far too many outstanding grievances that relate to the Company not following seniority, the assignment of bargaining unit duties, and the excessive use of contractors on-site (either for running maintenance or Turnaround). The underlying issues seem to be the never-ending attacks on unionism itself. 

Seniority is a fundamental principle of working in a unionized environment. Job bidding, duty assignment and Lead Hand appointments should all follow seniority. All members are afforded the protection from personal bias of supervisors when seniority is respected. Our collective agreement allows employees a qualifying period to demonstrate merit & ability in all job classifications. Yet we see constant examples of qualified and capable employees being passed over for assignments. If an employee is not meeting expectations than that is an individual performance issue that in most cases can be resolved by a competent supervisor. It is not a seniority issue and a greenlight for the Company to bypass our most senior employees.

The second root issue, is jobs in general. Since the culture started to change at the refinery in 2013 we have seen a steady, gradual erosion in our unionized workforce and a heavier reliance on contractors. Post-lockout the mask is off and union duties have been re-assigned to management and contractor employees at an alarming rate. This is exacerbated by the Company's intention to permanently layoff a large number of employees from several departments. All this comes at a time when profits are surging, our market share & distribution network are expanding, and as the refinery ages requiring even more hands-on attention and investment. We should be strengthening our workforce, not depleting it and harming morale through programs that negatively impact mental health and safety. Our employees has always been our strength and the spin-off effects of investing in people have the potential to pay off in immense dividends.

While the Company has committed to a grievance administration day and chipping away at the backlog, if the underlying issues that drive grievances are not resolved then there is a real fear that the 163 number will only grow.

As a reminder, you can read the minutes of all JUMC meetings that are held quarterly by finding them on the Portal iwthin the Labour Relations tab on the Human Resources site.

In Solidarity,
Richard Exner
With warmer weather comes the 2022 Turnaround and a new approach to execute it. Over fifty people from Maintenance shops, three supervisors, two planners and four PDD railcar loaders will assist with Turnaround. Primarily in coordination roles, we will be creating the daily work plans with schedulers and guiding various work groups of Contractors to ensure they are efficient. We will also do all the found work planning during Turnaround.

Although this isn't how we have historically done Turnaround, the Union is committeed to making the 2022 year a success! To achieve this goal, we will need to ensure the contractors are efficient and help the Turnaround team hold them accountable for the work they perform. While LOU 61 remains in dispute, the Union continues to see the value in having members from all areas working with our maintenance employees to make Turnaround safe and efficient, as has proven successful for decades.

The Union has designated work in the Turnaround, such as the high voltage electrical work and many pump and compressor overhauls. While Turnaround is progressing, our Union Brothers and Sisters from maintenance departments will work extra hours to complete critical maintenance work that needs to be completed while the units are down.

Let's keep each other safe and continue to bring our knowledge and expertise to 2022 Turnaround.

In Solidarity,
Karl Dahle
  • Congratulations Nic Skulski (Section 5) and Tia who welcomed daughter Bria Ainsley Shelly Skulski born January 26th, 2022.
Please let us know of any noteworthy milestones at [email protected]
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