July 27, 2022
To: Bell Clerical members
Re: Bell Canada intimidating workers, union busting during negotiations with Unifor
We write to you to update you on the actions that your union has taken against the attempted union busting from Bell Canada as we edge closer to our deadline.
We are aware of the continued communications from Reno Vaillancourt, Senior Vice President of Labour Relations at Bell encouraging yourself and your coworkers to cross the picket line should negotiations result in strike action.
We are also aware that managers are pulling members into one on one discussions to spread rumours about bargaining proposals or conversations had during negotiations. Managers have gone as far as to have team meetings with slide decks of the outstanding issues and presenting hypothetical wage increases that were never tabled to the bargaining committee. The only proposals that members can count on are proposals made properly, in negotiations.
These dirty negotiation tactics are not credible and only show that Bell is attempting to weaken our resolve and force members to accept a lesser deal than what you deserve.
During these meetings, managers have gone so far as to share what jobs a member may be asked to do as strike duty and full discussions of the amount of strike pay.
Bell’s coercion is unacceptable. Workers know that this company prides itself on a squeaky clean public image of promoting mental health, but in private, it has consistently made working conditions stressful for its own employees. This is no exception.
This is not normal behaviour in negotiations, even before a strike deadline. Most other employers act with decency and in good faith. At no point is it acceptable for any employer during bargaining or otherwise to elicit this level of pressure and intimidation onto our membership.
Specifically our application submits that Bell has violated sections 94 (1) (a), 94 (3) (a) (iv) and 50 of the Code when it directly and repeatedly solicited and invited Clerical Unit employees to volunteer to continue to work during an anticipated strike. Bell’s communications with employees directly interfered with the Union’s legitimate activities and undermined the Union’s representation rights.
In addition, today we sent the attached letters to the Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan and Member of Parliament, Alexandre Boulerice, to express our concerns regarding this labour dispute and the above mentioned actions by Bell.
The federal government has committed to the introduction of Anti-Scab legislation in 2023, but this law needs to come sooner to stop big businesses like Bell from acting with impunity. Bell receives billions of dollars from the federal and provincial governments to build telecommunications infrastructure, and your union lobbies the government to demand that public funding come with strings attached in terms of keeping good unionized jobs here in Canada.
The only party that benefits from a divided membership is Bell Canada’s management and profits. Bell’s attempts to confuse and threaten workers have one goal: weaken the bargaining unit so that members will accept a lesser contract.
From what we’re hearing, this has had the opposite effect. Members are writing that you are angry at Bell’s actions, and we understand. Your bargaining committee is disgusted, but we will continue to negotiate in good faith and in members’ best interests.
Unifor does not accept scab labour in our workplaces, whether it is replacement workers or our own members. Working during a strike or lockout harms your fellow workers, tears apart communities and prolongs disputes — something, we at Unifor, know all too well.
Our negotiated collective agreements benefit all members. So, when we need to unite for better, when we have a work stoppage- we must be in it together.
We will not permit Bell, or any other employer, to drive a wedge between our members or undermine our Union.
Together, we will demonstrate that we are united in our goals to secure the very best working conditions for our membership.
Together, we will demonstrate that our solidarity is unbreakable.
Naureen Rizvi, Ontario Regional Director
Chris MacDonald, Assistant to the National President
Olivier Carrière, Assistant to the Quebec Director