December 22, 2020

Calendar highlights and upcoming events:
Local 6 (Wild West Steelhead) bargaining

The latest bargaining session was held on Nov. 26 in Lucky lake. Additional dates have not been scheduled at this time.

GSU Local 6 bargaining committee members are Amber Pearson, Pasha Mughal, Amanda Pearson, and GSU staff rep Dale Markling.

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No newsletter during the week of Dec. 29.

You won't hear from us until Jan. 5. Happy New Year!

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Local 5 (Western Producer) ratification vote

At noon on Tuesday, Jan. 5, members will vote on a tentative agreement.

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We're one step closer to getting collective agreement booklets printed for Local 15 (Nutrien) members

The first draft of the new collective agreement between GSU Local 15 members and Nutrien Ag Solutions has been sent to company representatives for their review and approval.

Once both union and company representatives have approved the wording and signed the new agreement, we will get busy printing collective agreement booklets for distribution to GSU Local 15 members.

Feds planning to exempt grain companies from providing employees 24-hours' notice of shift change
The Labour Program of the Government of Canada’s Department of Employment and Social Development has served notice that it is preparing to bring in regulations exempting grain handling and grain milling employers from giving employees 24-hours written notice of shift changes or additions. The grain handling and grain milling employer associations have been lobbying for exemption from a number of progressive labour standards changes since Sept. 1, 2019 when Part III of the Canada Labour Code was amended to, amongst other things, require employers to give their employees 24 hours’ notice of shift changes.
GSU has opposed the employer lobbying efforts during consultation meetings between stakeholders and Labour Program representatives.

In March 2020, GSU also filed a written brief supporting federal labour standards that provide employees with more predictability in their hours of work as well as better work-life balance. It appears that GSU’s efforts along with the efforts of other unions and community groups have combined to deflect most of the exemptions employers were seeking. However, on the important issue of shift change notice the employer lobby seems on the verge of success.
“The battle is not over,” said GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner. “We have until February 19, 2021 to make further representations to federal Labour Program officials and hopefully we can convince them to stick with the original plan announced in September 2019.”
“It is ironic that employers have argued for exemption because they say there are so many uncertainties in their industries and yet it is the workers who bear the brunt of all of the uncertainty,” Wagner said. “Why should wage earners suffer unpredictability and shifting work schedules when the real culprits are railway service and the commercial loading contracts the grain companies negotiate with CN and CP?”
GSU will be communicating its opposition to the exemptions and we are asking union members to do likewise. “The message doesn’t have to be elaborate. Straightforward emails from people in the workplace opposing exemption of grain elevator and grain milling companies from section 173.1 of Part III of the Canada Labour Code will be a big help,“ said Wagner. 
You can help convince Labour Program officials to stick to the original plan and require employers to give their employees 24 hours' notice of shift changes.

Send your brief, respectful and straightforward email to program officials saying that you and your co-workers are opposed to exempting employers from giving 24 hours’ notice of shift changes as required by section 173.1 of Part III of the Canada Labour Code.

Email messages can be sent to:

Local 5 (Western Producer) members to vote on tentative settlement

The GSU Local 5 and company bargaining committees have reached a tentative settlement. 

Details of the settlement will not be released at this time pending a Jan. 5 membership ratification meeting.

GSU Local 5 bargaining committee members are Sharlene Tetrault, Michelle Houlden, and GSU staff rep Dale Markling.

GSU’s executive grievance claiming pressing necessity leave for Viterra employees who were storm stayed on Nov. 9 is going to a Step 2 grievance meeting early in the new year.
“We attempted to convince the employer of the merits of the case without commencing formal grievance action, but ultimately it became necessary to follow the grievance route,” said GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner. “If a sewer back-up would qualify an employee for pressing necessity leave, why wouldn’t unpassable streets or unsafe driving conditions?”
GSU is aiming to hold the step two grievance meeting during the first week of January and report back here as matters unfold.

Questions? Contact your GSU staff rep.

Being thankful for what you have
this holiday season
This past year and the 2020 holiday season have been unlike anything we have ever experienced. We can choose to let it get us down and allow ourselves to be bitter, or we can look closely at everything we do have and celebrate that, instead.

If you are feeling a bit put out that you can't connect in person with family and friends to reflect on the past and welcome the coming year, try to remember that by simply being Canadian we are automatically very fortunate, and we enjoy many privileges others throughout the world can only wish they had for themselves and their loved ones.

This article has been printed for entertainment purposes. The views and opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of GSU, its members, officers, or staff.