Prepare for your regular benefits price hike

Whether you use them or not, your health ‘benefits’ as of January 1st are costing you more.

At a Labour Relations meeting in late December with Optimum Consultants and Actuaries, BTS was advised that unionized employees are subject to a 13.9% increase in cost for their health care benefits.

By contrast, Bell employees will not see an increase in the cost of their health benefits; in fact, they will continue to pay nothing for their benefits. That’s right–no deductions on their paycheques for benefits.

Unifor_scheduling_graphA full-time BTS employee has over $1,400 per year deducted from their paycheque for health care benefits. That’s on top of the portion that BTS contributes–over $4,500–for full-timers.

If the money you pay for your benefits were instead deposited into a Tax-Free Savings Account with moderate interest, in ten years’ time you would have over $20,000!

$20,000 isn’t chump change. It’s college tuition. It’s caregiving for parents. A home renovation.

Common sense says this is wrong. We all know that BTS and Bell are one company. Our employer needs to treat us all equally.

But instead of daydreaming about the money we don’t have, let’s plan for the day when we’re equal to our Bell counterparts. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

A full-time BTS employee has over $1,400 per year deducted from their paycheque for health care benefits. That’s on top of the portion that BTS contributes–over $4,500–for full-timers.

If the money you pay for your benefits was instead deposited into a Tax-Free Savings Account with moderate interest, in ten years time you would have over $20,000!

$20,000 isn’t chump change. It’s a college tuition. It’s caregiving for parents. A home renovation.

But instead of daydreaming about the money we don’t have, let’s plan for the day when we’re equal to our Bell counterparts. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 

Scheduling as a weapon

iPhone_unifor_mockup2_scheduling

Under the terms of our contract, BTS is required to “offer” RPT’S and SPT’S “equitable distribution of offered hours.” It means they need to give all BTS workers an equal opportunity to work any available hours within a team territory or common locality.

BTS is always looking for creative ways to take advantage of contract language, even if the spirit and intention of a clause is clear. Scheduling is no exception.

We can’t stop them from taking this approach. But we can prepare you to handle these attacks. Knowledge is power. The more we all know about the terms of our contract and the tactics of our employer, the stronger we are as a team. And the stronger we are as a team, the more likely we are to arrive at equal terms with our Employer and Bell Craft employees.

Our contract says that “scheduling” shifts guarantees you an 8 hour or 10 hour work day. These days are mandatory.

BTS is waiting until the same day to “offer” you work, and trying to get away with offering a 4-hour shift. These hours can be considered under “equitable distribution of hours.”

The Union’s interpretation of the collective agreement is that a “same day” shift is “offered hours” and the Union believes that the decision to work or not is for the member and not BTS to make. This has been the practice for 20 years. The Union will be grieving this issue, and proposing to BTS that the issue be sent to arbitration for a decision.

If you receive disciplinary notice of any kind, contact your union steward immediately so that we can we can engage the company and file a grievance on your behalf.

sameday_scheduling
Most of us are after full work days. We want guaranteed hours, the small bit of room to plan ahead (pick up the kids? take care of a parent? Run an errand?), and the dignity of knowing what we’re doing the next day when we go to bed at night.
This kind of stability affects our quality of life. Bell doesn’t think our quality of life plays a role in their bottom line. They’re wrong about that, of course, and it would be nice to change their minds in the long run.
The Bell Craft RPT employees are not facing the same tactics and we all know who our “REAL” employer is, so why not treat us equally, and not as a second-class workforce.
It’s “COMMON SENSE”!

Food + Pride = $1.00

Sign_BW

This week the staff of UNIFOR Local 1996-0 participated in our annual volunteer day at St. Francis Table, a local destination for hundreds of our community members every day.

GroupSt. Francis Table opened its doors December 1987 in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood.

With seating capacity for 40 people, serving an average of 250 meals per day, they’ve served over 500,000 meals to date.

Half of the patrons are post-psychiatric patients who are unable to work due to their illness. St Francis Table also provides meals to single parents, refugees, the unemployed, transients, ex-convicts and people living on our city’s streets, in our parks and alleys.

Many of the patrons spend most of their meager income on accommodation. About one-quarter of St. Francis Table’s patrons are senior citizens who come for nourishment and companionship.

In keeping with the Franciscan heritage, no one is turned away without the offer of a meal.

PreppingWe live in an era where there are no more “gold watches” for years of loyalty and service to corporations. Where workers must unite and fight tirelessly for fair wages, benefits–and even decent support for differently-abled team-members. When society is just beginning to get past the stigma associated with mental illness.

At a time when, despite all we have, we can’t seem to figure out how to distribute our success more evenly, thank goodness for organizations like St. Francis Table. They are an essential, binding element in the fabric of our society.

And they do it for a dollar.

Hungry guests who depend on the ethos and work of the Capuchin order are requested to make a small donation of one dollar. A meal can deliver more than charity. It can deliver a dose of dignity.

Menu_BW

It shouldn’t come as a shock that helping St. Francis Table do their work brings returns for volunteers as well. A meal at St. Francis Table is an opportunity for community, advocacy, and friendship.

Leadership_BW

If you would like to join local 1996-o next year, please let us know, there’s always a need for another pair of helping hands.

 

Safety is a team sport

From snowboarders to mountain climbers and skydivers, people have long sought the thrill of height. Two things help people who seek the rush of extreme activities that scare the hell out of most of us do their thing safely:

  1. Training
  2. Trust in their Gear

Properly maintained and employed safety gear and training with experts are standard. Thrill seekers know the consequences of an accident can be devastating. So they mitigate it.

The consequences of workplace accidents can be equally devastating. Workplace attitudes towards avoiding accidents should be no different.

Too many in the workforce skip or rush through those steps in the name of efficiency, or even laziness.

As a result, falls are the number one cause of critical worker injuries at construction sites in Ontario.

14 workers lost their lives falling from heights in 2015, leaving behind parents, children, siblings, and friends.

The sad reality is that too many are willing to push safety boundaries at work. Whether they’re due to a lack of training or a disregard for safety equipment, these injuries and deaths are preventable – the key is driving the message home to all parties.

We are ALL responsible for workplace safety.

Employers and supervisors, for providing comprehensive training, equipment and rescue plans.
Employees, for following guidelines, wearing their equipment and both refusing and reporting unsafe situations.

It’s easy to become complacent after years on the job, but it only takes one mistake to change everything.

Now, ignoring safety isn’t just dangerous or unethical–it’s also illegal. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), violators can be prosecuted resulting in heavy fines or even jail time.

Please spread the word and encourage your fellow workers to stay safe.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Let us know how we can help, and please share any questions you may have about workplace protection.

When it comes to creating safe work environments, we’re all in this together.