Progress made as talks continue into January
The Unifor ACL bargaining committee made progress on several issues this week and both sides have agreed to extend discussions into January.
“We have accomplished long awaited results this week in signing off on multiple issues, including paid domestic violence leave for members, agreements on performance management and the formation of a joint committee on mental health,” said Bobby MacDonald, Chair of Unifor ACL.
The paid domestic leave provision ensures that absences which are not covered by sick leave or disability insurance and result from domestic violence will be granted as a paid absence. For more information on this provision, click here.
When the committee goes back to the table on January 18, 2018, the focus will shift to core issues such as job creation, pensions and wages.
After seven sessions of bargaining, the committee has given the employer a deadline of midnight, January 19, 2018 to reach a tentative agreement.
The bargaining committee would like to thank members for their continued support. The Red shirt day demonstration of solidarity was powerful, as demonstrated by this YouTube video.
The next ‘Wear Unifor Red’ t-shirt day is January 18, 2018. Stay tuned for more details from your mobilization committee.
Message to Bell Aliant members about post-employment benefits
Another crucial element of our Bargaining Sessions with Bell Canada will be addressed during the week of November 27. In February, Bell demonstrated its apathy toward workers by sending out an email announcing that the company was terminating the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) or as Bell refers to it, Post-Retirement Benefits (PRB) after April 1, 2019.
The announcement by Bell is consistent with the Bell Aliant decision in 2006 that reduced our full retirement benefits to the $1,000 per year OPEBs that retirees currently receive.
Bell did this without any discussions with Unifor ACL at a time when we were just about to begin negotiating our next Collective Agreement.
Your union representatives found that this February announcement by the employer was unilateral, arbitrary and premature considering the opening of our bargaining session was only weeks away.
Unifor ACL sees your OPEBs as deferred wages that members have earned throughout their careers, and taken concessions for over the years to obtain. Your bargaining committee will not stand idly by and let Bell steal them without a fight.
Since Bell purchased Bell Aliant in 2014 the employer has repeatedly attacked the benefits of our workforce in Atlantic Canada. This is deplorable considering the hard work and the dedication of Unifor members. As an entire workforce, members have contributed to bring Bell a very profitable bottom line.
As anticipated in April, the negotiations with Bell are not easy and have been contentious in many
ways. In the coming days your Mobilization Committee, with the full support of your Council will be sending out a reminder to wear your red - t-shirts as a sign of solidarity with your Unifor ACL bargaining team.
Now is an important time to remind Bell that the Atlantic unionized workforce is a viable part of this company, and our members are united and mobilized in support of their bargaining team.
Clarification About ACL Pension Benefits
The Unifor ACL Bargaining Committee would like to clarify some key information after receiving a number of inquiries from members about the Defined Benefit Pension Plan changes announced by Bell this past year.
Currently members can retire with an unreduced pension if:
- The member is 55 years of age and has 25 years of service;
- The member is 60 years of age and has 15 years of service; or
- If the member has 30 years of service.
With this announcement, Bell is effectively withdrawing automatic consent for early unreduced pension. In other words they are attempting to eliminate these three early retirement options for our long serving members.
As you may be aware, from now until the end of the negotiations, the company is unable to make changes to the pension plan because the collective agreement clearly states under Article 28.01 b):
"The Company commits not to diminish the level of benefit provided by the Bell Aliant pension plans during the life of this Agreement."
While negotiations are ongoing, the current collective agreement remains in full force, with all provisions, including the early unreduced retirement clauses. These remain intact.
Your union Bargaining Committee stands firm. In order to secure a new contract, all early retirement options including unreduced provisions must be renewed.
The Bargaining Committee is hearing that, to avoid being affected by the employer’s proposed changes, some members are submitting requests to retire immediately. We would like to assure all members that we are vigorously defending your interests at the negotiating table. This defense, of course, includes protecting all early retirement options of the Defined Benefits Pension Plan. If a decision is required to be made about your retirement future from Bell, you will be provided ample time to make an informed choice.
If you have questions please contact Roch Leblanc, Unifor National Representative Roch.LeBlanc@unifor.org (902)455-1120
Bell Aliant bargaining update after fifth session
The fifth session of bargaining wrapped up Nov. 9, 2017 with little progress to report.
“All non-monetary issues have been explored but the packaging of a deal has proven to be difficult, as the decision to move to greater issues is being overshadowed with the lack of productivity accomplished so far,” said Roch Leblanc, National Representative and Chief Negotiator.
The company continues to seek concessions in exchange for language changes in the collective agreement that the union is seeking. The bargaining committee is holding firm on the need for these changes to provide enhanced job security for the membership and improved service for their customers.
"Our members took concessions in the past in order to help the company get ‘Fibre To The Home’ across Atlantic Canada. We held up our end of the bargain, under budget and on time, and now Bell needs to negotiate a fair contract for our skilled members," said Bobby MacDonald, spokesperson for the union’s bargaining committee.
The bargaining committee remains committed to finding solutions to maintain and create good full time, permanent Bell Aliant jobs in Atlantic Canada.
The next “Wear Unifor Red T-shirt Day” will be on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. Please show your solidarity with Bell Aliant workers and wear red. Members are encouraged to post Red Day photos on social media with the hashtag #BellACLSolidarity. Email photos to the National Communications representative: Natalie.Clancy@unifor.org
Unifor’s Bell Aliant ACL wraps up disappointing 4th session of bargaining
The bargaining committee for Unifor Atlantic Communication Locals, which represents locals 506, 401, 410, 2289 wrapped up their fourth session of bargaining with little progress to report to members in all four Atlantic provinces.
“The employer continues to pursue their version of flexibility, which the bargaining committee equates with precarious, unsteady, part time work,” said Roch Leblanc, Unifor National Representative and Chief Negotiator.
The bargaining committee continues to be concerned about the level of outsourcing and is committed to finding solutions to keep and create full time, permanent Bell Aliant jobs in Atlantic Canada.
This week Bell Aliant workers in all four provinces sent a strong message to their employer with a sea of red. Unifor members wore their union t-shirts in the workplace, in every community they serve in support of their bargaining committee. Hundreds of photos were shared on social media from all parts of the region.
“We’d like to thank all the members and the mobilisation committee because that powerful show of solidarity inspired the bargaining committee to continue to stand firm to defend good jobs in Atlantic Canada,” said Bob MacDonald, Unifor bargaining committee spokesperson.
Bell Aliant workers, who proudly built the fiber optic network in Atlantic Canada will continue to show solidarity when bargaining resumes November 7.
Bell Aliant workers wear Unifor red as bargaining resumes in Atlantic Canada
Bell Aliant workers in Atlantic Canada are proudly sporting union t-shirts as resumes in Halifax on Tuesday Oct 17.
The bargaining committee for Unifor Atlantic Communication Locals, which represents locals 506, 401, 410, 2289 want the employer to know how invested they are in making Bell Aliant a better place to work, which is why they are wearing red to work as a show of solidarity.
Bargaining began with Bell Aliant in April with little progress so far. Bell Aliant is seeking concessions in exchange for some of Unifor’s demands, but the bargaining team is standing firm to defend our priorities vigorously to reach a fair tentative agreement.
The bargaining committee is concerned about outsourcing and is committed to keeping and creating good jobs in Atlantic Canada.
“Unifor ACL members want their fair share of the company’s profit in the fibre optic project they built,” said Bob MacDonald, Unifor bargaining committee spokesperson.
Members want to be able to retire with dignity, and many have been waiting to enjoy the fruit of our hard work he said.
“There is no way we can allow the company to strip our early retirement clause and walk away from their commitment to contribute to our retirees medical plan,” said Roch Leblanc, Unifor National Representative and Chief Negotiator.