We may have become a bit comfortable in the downtime between negotiations, especially with the 7-year Me Too agreement that we ratified in the last round of negotiations, but it is already time to start thinking about the National Energy Pattern.
The National Energy Bargaining Program is something that we have historically and consistantly been a part of at Local 594. It allows us to use the collective bargaining power of over 40 different locals in the energy sector. It is also something that we worked into our Me Too portion of our last contract that we ratified in June of 2020. In that agreement, we accepted a 4-year term, as was negotiated nationally, plus an additional 3 year term where no negotiations needed to take place and our wage increases would be the negotiated 2022 national pattern, or 1% per year over 3 years, whichever is greater.
As a local, we have the ability to vote whether or not we intend to be a part of the pattern. Being apart of the pattern automatically includes paying into, and receiving the benefits of, the supplementary defense fund. Every local participating in the pattern will pay into this fund. Once a national deal is ratified, that money is returned to the locals providing it was not spent in a labour dispute arising from national pattern issues. Whether or not we choose to be a part of this pattern will be something we all will vote on in the next month or so. We all need to understand what that means, especially this time around with our Me Too agreement we are currently in. If we opt out of participating in the national pattern, we are effectively accepting 1% raises for 2023, 2024, and 2025.
Our Negotiating Chair, Shaun Jenkins and I both went to Montreal at the end of April as the two voting delegates that Local 594 is allotted based on our membership numbers. While we were there we elected the bargaining steering committee for this round of negotiations, and that committee then put together our proposals for this round.
We ended up with an 8 point proposal package:
- 2-year term
- 7% wage increase in year 1, and 7% wage increase in year 2
- Improvements to vacation language
- Create language surrounding domestic violence and paid domestic violence leave
- Create women’s advocate language
- Create racial justice advocate language
- Create indigenous advocate language
- Create framework to support discussion around Just Transition
As with any negotiation, these 8 points are a starting proposal and almost certainly not what we end up with as a final deal, should we elect to be a part of the pattern. We also still do not know who the “target” company will be. There is always one company that steps up or is appointed to bargain the pattern agreement on behalf of every employer in the pattern. Traditionally, this has been Suncor, but it has yet to be determined. That is the next step in this pattern bargaining process.
With all of that said, I want to say that I believe we absolutely should be a part of that pattern as we always have been. There is strength in numbers. This program and the collective bargaining power has always served us well. We are in a special position this round with our Me Too agreement. This time around, not participating in the energy pattern is accepting 1% increases for the next three years.
Please bring forward any questions, concerns or input to the executive. Even as we bargain nationally, we bargain with 594 members interests at the forefront.
Nathan Kraemer, President