Archive for the 'Steward’s Network' Category

Are you a Shop Steward or Union Rep in the PSAC?

If so, this is your year. In 2011, PSAC is putting a bright spotlight on the stewards and union reps who are the face and voice of the union at the grassroots. We want to give you the recognition you deserve, and the tools you need to do your union work. We want to improve communication with stewards, make changes to our education programs and find ways to connect stewards so that you can learn from each other.

We want to hear from shop stewards to find out what sorts of supports, tools and resources you need to do your work – please take a few minutes to complete the PSAC Shop Steward Survey and we’ll enter you in a draw to win an iPad. The survey will remain open until July 31.

All PSAC Shop Stewards and Union Reps are also encouraged to order their free Stewards Kit here.


updated April 18th, 2011

clipboard01Grievance time lines are one of the most important elements of problem solving. If we miss the initial filing of a grievance or the transmittal of grievances between levels we shortchange one or more of our members. In order to avoid this happening we have updated and posted several grievance time line flowcharts, more will follow for other bargaining units.

An ongoing series of articles and information of interest to PSAC stewards. See more at the stewards network pages.

The Programs Section and Education Section of the PSAC has prepared some educational tools for presentations, courses or workshops on the Treasury Board Workforce Adjustment Policy. These tools include the PowerPoint presentation below, check it out to read more about …

  • Workforce Adjustment – Central Objectives.
  • Before a WFA Situation is declared.
  • What is the role of the WFA Committee?
  • What are the Employer’s obligations once a Work Force Adjustment has been called?
  • Key Employer Obligations: What does the WFAA Say?
  • What is a reasonable job offer under the WFAA?

The WFA presentation is also available full-screen here.

If you have questions about the WFA, or want more information contact your PSAC Regional Office.

The PSAC and the Employer have agreed to amend, effective December 21, 2010, certain provisions of the PA, SV, and EB  collective agreements – specifically, Sick Leave, Leave with Pay for Family-Related Responsibilities and Bereavement Leave.

In addition, the PA bargaining unit amended provisions also included Appendix I – MOU with Respect to the Transformation of Pay Administration Initiative.

Read the exact revised wording for these provisions at the national website.

An ongoing series of articles and information of interest to PSAC stewards. See more at the stewards network pages.

While we try to avoid allowing this to happen at all, there are circumstances when our best laid plans go awry.  The Public Service Labour Relations Board uses a criteria to determine whether an extension of time should be granted.  In the following decision, rendered on October 13, 2010, PSLRB Vice-Chairperson Ian R. Mackenzie dealt with that specific criteria.

The grievor was represented by his bargaining agent at the first level of the grievance process – the employer provided a copy of its first-level decision directly to the grievor, and did not supply a copy to his representative – on learning that a first-level decision had been rendered, the grievor’s representative requested a copy and presented the grievance at the second level within seven days of receiving it, but outside the time limit set out in the collective agreement – the employer considered the presentation at that level untimely – the grievor’s representative applied for an extension of time to present the grievance at the second level of the grievance process – the Chairperson found that the grievor had not been negligent by relying on his representative to present his grievance at the second level of the grievance process and that the delay was not significant – the Chairperson further found that the deputy head would suffer no prejudice from an extension of the time limit.

Read the full text of the decision at

An ongoing series of articles and information of interest to PSAC stewards. See more at the stewards network pages.

As most of you are aware when the new Public Service Modernization Act came into being it amended the Public Service Labour Relations Act in a number of ways. One of those was the ability for bargaining agents (ie. PSAC) to present “a policy grievance to the other in respect of the interpretation or application of the collective agreement or arbitral award as it relates to either of them or to the bargaining unit generally.” (Section 220(1)).

Our weekend course experience tells us that PSAC members believe that this meant that they could file a grievance against an “employers policy”.

A good example of the PSAC using the “policy grievance” route involves the announcement by the Prime Minister that a new government pay centre would be situated in Miramichi, New Brunswick. The PSAC felt that this initiative will clearly result in a workforce adjustment situation.

You can see the completed policy grievance form on this issue here (pdf).

A PSLRB decision released in late August dealt with a situation which a number of PSAC members have found themselves in over the years. Specifically, the decision dealt with the employer taking action to recover $11,564.85 as a result of their administrative error when they credited an employee with more annual leave credits, over a 5 year period, than she was entitled to.

In his decision, Adjudicator Quigley stated: “Given the absence of anything in the law or the collective agreement dealing with the issue, general management rights prevail and those rights give the employer some discretion to correct errors. However, discretion must be exercised reasonably and the recovery of a debt caused by the negligence of the employer and allowed to balloon over the years, despite inquiries by the grievor regarding her entitlements, is an unreasonable exercise of discretion. In the case of the grievor, detrimental reliance can be found in the fact that the grievor took the leave that she believed she was entitled to.”

The grievance was allowed. Visit the PSLRB website to read complete adjudication case.

PSAC will go to arbitration over a Treasury Board directive to managers aimed at silencing the union’s pension campaign.

  • Did your employer take down PSAC petitions or otherwise interfere in the pension campaign? Let us know.

The Feb. 26, 2010 directive told managers:

  • all requests to post petition sheets should be denied;
  • all requests to distribute petitions via the Employer’s electronic networks should be denied;
  • other than the actual petition, requests to post literature, such as general information on pensions, should not be unreasonably denied;
  • the wearing of stickers should be permitted as long as the employee is not directly serving the public;
  • the placing of stickers on the Employer’s property or equipment should not be permitted.

On March 10, 2010 the PSAC filed a policy grievance against the directive.

Continue reading at the national website.

source: Lancaster House

In a decision that establishes important new precedents, Arbitrator Owen Shime has awarded damages totaling more than $500,000 to a long-serving employee who was fired while recuperating from surgery. In a scathing 136-page decision, Arbitrator Shime found that the grievor was “an honest and diligent employee” who “at no time malingered or attempted to wrongfully obtain sick benefits” and that the employer’s conduct was “so egregious that I determine it acted in bad faith.”

In addition to awarding the grievor damages of $50,000 a year for lost income for the period that had elapsed since her discharge, Shime awarded damages for loss of future earnings until retirement, since the employer had destroyed the relationship of trust to an extent that precluded reinstatement. In this regard, Shime broke new ground by adopting the doctrine that, in his words, there is an “obligation on the employer not to conduct itself, without reasonable and proper cause, in a manner calculated and likely to destroy or seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence between employer and employee.”

Shime also awarded $50,000 in damages for mental distress, as well as an equal amount in punitive damages. The total award of damages for past and future loss of income, mental distress and extended physical pain, and punitive damages amounted to more than $500,000.

Union Activity in the Workplace:  Know Your Rights

As a PSAC member you have the right to promote and build your union in the workplace. You also have the right to be kept informed on the employer’s premises during non-work time, before or after your shift and during paid or unpaid breaks and lunch periods. This is the law.

You have the right to:

Read union literature. You can also sign petitions and share information about the union’s campaigns during non-working time. Talk to co-workers about the union at work as you would any other subject – help keep everyone informed about PSAC activities.

Hand out leaflets before and after work. You can distribute materials outside or inside the workplace to connect with members. Even if the entrance is in a commercial area, you have a legal right to engage in this activity. The employer is prohibited from interfering with these lawful union activities.

Desk drops. Participate in “desk drops” at members’ work stations. You are absolutely allowed to distribute publications that reflect the union’s perspective on workplace issues, as long as the information is accurate and non-defamatory. This is a great way to invite members to information sessions, provide updates on union business and recruit new volunteers.


Finally the program is open. For those who are new in applying for a PSAC scholarship – greetings! And for those who have applied before – welcome back!

We have made significant changes to the program this year:

  • there is a new deadline – June 30, 2010
  • there are more awards for PSAC members who are returning to school
  • and there is new way of applying – directly on-line

This year’s scholarship question is a little different – contact your nearest RO for some assistance getting in touch with a PSAC steward, look for one in your workplace, or consider becoming one yourself.

Union stewards are the front-line heroes of the labour movement. In addition to their regular jobs, they also volunteer to represent their union in the workplace. They help members file grievances, they sit on union-management committees, and they share information about PSAC’s campaigns and actions in the workplace.

PSAC will be spending the next year highlighting the amazing – and often unrecognized – work that union stewards do every day.

Applicants to the PSAC Scholarship Program are asked to

For more information, and to apply online, visit the national website.

The Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) allows adjudicators to interpret and apply the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) and can give a damages award for pain and suffering or punitive damages, each being no more than $20,000. Public Service Labour Relations Board adjudicators did just that in two recent cases.

The 1st case involved a Canada Revenue Agency employee who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. She filed a grievance which stated that the employer had failed to provide adequate and timely accommodation of her disability. The adjudicator allowed the grievance and ordered the employer to pay $6,000 for pain and suffering as per section 53-2(e) of the CHRA. Read the full decision at

The 2nd case involved a National Defense employee who was terminated by the employer due to his inability to attend work for medical reasons. The adjudicator allowed the grievance on two grounds. The first was that the termination was invalid because it was based on confidential information obtained during mediation. The second was that the respondent had not fulfilled its duty to accommodate the grievor. The employee was reinstated as of the date of termination. In addition, the adjudicator ordered the employer to pay $9,000 for pain and suffering and $8,000 as additional compensation (sections 228-2 of PSLRA and 53-3 of CHRA). The employer was also ordered to pay 4.32% interest on both of these monetary amounts as per section 226-1(i) of the PSLRA. Read the full decision at

Here’s an interesting article relating to workplace bullying which was posted in the Toronto Star last November. The reporter is Janis Foord Kirk.

Getting stepped on at work

“She loved the work at first, ” a worried husband confides. “But now she drags herself in every day. A couple of people who’ve worked there for years seem to have it in for her. I can’t believe some of their antics. “Is this workplace bullying?” he asks. “And if it is, what can she do about it?”

Bullying is one of the fastest-growing complaints of workplace violence, according to the International Labour Office. It runs the gamut from extreme violence, even murder, to intimidation and snide remarks.

The psychological harassment of a co-worker tends to fall into the latter category. And when two or more people join forces to lie, gossip, criticize and socially isolate a specific employee, the ILO says, it’s called “mobbing” or “ganging up.”

Valerie Cade is a workplace bully expert based in Calgary who consults internationally on the issue. “It’s important to distinguish between workplace bullying and difficult behaviours, ” she cautions. “Bullying is deliberate, disrespectful, repeated malicious behaviour. Bullies really do know what they’re doing. This is the difference. A difficult person is just grouchy and steps on other boundaries in order to get their own needs met. But a bully will actually calculate how to embarrass and demean someone else.


2010 Olympics – Is Your Employer Ready?

The following information is not meant to replace the discussions which should be taking place at your workplace regarding the Employer’s state of readiness. Specifically, how will employees be treated if they are unable to access their place of work due to the 2010 Olympics.

Most collective agreements covering PSAC members contain a provision similar, if not identical, to the following:

At its discretion, the employer may grant:

(a) leave with pay when circumstances not directly attributable to the employee prevent his or her reporting for duty; such leave shall not be unreasonably withheld;

The following principles outline what we have learned from arbitrators’ decisions on the many grievances on denial of “special leave”.


stewards network!It is an accepted principle, enshrined in law, that the “duty of fair representation” relates to representation in matters or disputes covered by the Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) or a collective agreement. Does it also cover services offered voluntarily by a union in relations to claims before workers’ compensation tribunals, disciplinary matters before professional organizations, claims relating to the Canada Pension Plan, matters before transportation tribunals, actions before courts of law etc.?

Read the following PSLRB decision and find out what an arbitrator said.

Are you considering or in the process of dealing with a staffing complaint? Robert Strang, CEIU National Union Representative (and ex-CEIU 20944 Local President), who works out of the Edmonton CEIU Regional Office, has put together the following information which includes an impressive list of jurisprudence.

This information is meant for PSAC members covered by the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA).

What can complaints be filed over?

  • Internal appointments
  • Abuse of authority in:
    • Application of merit (ex: something wrong with how you were assessed, bias, bad faith, discrimination and other reasons)
    • Choice of Process (choosing a non-advertised process when they should have used an advertised process)
    • Choice of language (not allowing you be assessed in your choice of English or French)
  • The Deputy Head’s decision to layoff an employee
  • The decision by a DH or the PSC to revoke an appointment
  • Failure of corrective action following a complaint against an internal appointment that was substantiated

A few things to keep in mind about staffing complaints

  • You must have a “personal interest” in a complaint you file. In other words, you must be, for example, one of the people who missed out on an opportunity because a non-advertised process was improperly used when there should have been an advertised process or something went seriously wrong with their assessment of you as a candidate. You cannot file a complaint on behalf of someone else who may be too timid to file a complaint.
  • You must file a complaint within the timeframes outlined on the Notice of Appointment, not on the previously issued Notice of Consideration for Appointment. Missing the timeframes because of vacation, for example, is not considered a valid reason to extend the complaint period.
  • You must send your alllegations in writing by email or fax to the Director of the PSST (Public Service Staffing Tribunal) in Ottawa. These need not be perfect as I will finalise formal allegations at a later date, but should be detailed enough so that the PSST can determine if it is a legitimate complaint. A few simple paragraphs is usually sufficient. The instructions and contact information can be found here.


stewards network!An ongoing series of articles and information of interest to PSAC stewards. See more at the stewards network pages.

Two members of the Union of Taxation Employees, a Component of the PSAC, alleged that because the PSAC failed to invite them to the grievance hearings, keep in touch with them as to the grievance, or consult their witnesses to the grievance, the PSAC committed an unfair labour practice as described in the Public Service Labour Relations Act.  Find out what Adjudicator Paquet had to say about these circumstances by reading the decision at the PSLRB website.

An ongoing series of articles and information of interest to PSAC stewards. See more at the stewards network pages.

During a severe winter storm a few years ago two UTE members were unable to make it to work. They applied for leave with pay under Article 54.01 (a) of the collective agreement between the PSAC and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

The employer denied their request and instead granted them annual leave. They felt that the grievors did not make a reasonable effort to get to work, further that other employees at the grievors work location either made it to work or requested annual leave.

In a decision issued June 30, 2009 Adjudicator Paquet allowed the grievances. He also indicated in his decision that the grievors should not have their rights restricted by other employees’ interpretations of the collective agreement.

To read the complete decision and reasons visit the PSLRB website.

stewards network!If you work for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) or have the same meal break when working overtime language in your collective agreement this decision from the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) will be of interest to you.

Two employees of the CFIA working in Edmonton, Alberta worked three (3) hours overtime following the end of their normal shift. The employer paid them overtime at the applicable rate as well as the ten ($10.00) dollars meal allowance. The grievors were not provided their meal break and grieved this violation by the employer.

Were the grievors correct? Read the full decision to determine whether they were right.

an ongoing series of articles and information of interest to PSAC stewards. See more at the stewards network pages.

For PSAC members who are covered by the Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA), you will be interested in changes made to the process for classification grievances. The PSAC is recommending that “statement of duties” and “effective date” grievances be handled through the Informal Conflict Management System (ICMS). For a complete overview of the classification grievance process please visit the national website.

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For more information about the Steward's Network, contact Dave Jackson in the Victora Regional Office at (250) 953-1050 or 1 (866) 953-1050.

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Collective Agreements

Visit the national website for most PSAC collective agreements.