Good afternoon fellow Union members,
We have had some layoffs over the last number of weeks, and it continues to happen. These layoffs were out of our control, but we were successful in Facilities to advocate for people to put their names forward to accept a voluntary lay off package. 32 people put their names forward and 32 people were approved. Management and Human Resources entertained this option as it is less disruptive to the work force. The members who submitted their names did so for a variety of reasons and I congratulate them on the next stage of their lives, whether its retirement or moving on to other opportunities.
I believe we will have additional layoffs and I think it’s important for those impacted to know and understand your rights as a member. If you are going through a layoff as a permanent employee in a permanent position you will have all the rights under Article 12 of the Collective Agreement. There will be an SBA agent assigned to your case and one of our Union Reps will be in attendance to support you and help you understand the process. It’s important that you understand the process and your options. We have received a number of emails and phone calls from individuals after they have made their selection (the University calls it your ELECTION) that wish to change their mind. These calls and emails have been happening days and weeks after those involved have signed the Election Form. This Election Form is a legal document and although we can advocate Human Resources to reconsider it, we would rather use our resources and energy to help you understand what the choices are and what impact they have on you.
The first option outlined in your Election Form will be SEVERANCE. This is referenced in Article 12.1.4. Up to 19 years of service at the University will amount to 2 weeks pay for every year of service. Over 20 years and you will be offered 3 weeks pay for every year of service. The Election Form will have the dollar amount calculated out for you. The University also offers a 30-day notice period. What this means is you will be paid to stay at home for the next 30 days with no obligation to work at or for the University, IF you pick the severance option. So, in essence, if you choose the severance option, you will receive your severance pay, the pay at your current rate for the next 30 days over and above that, and they will pay you out for any holidays, EDO’s or overtime that you have in your bank. In rare cases, they have asked the employee to work during their working notice, but I have only witnessed this a couple of times in over a decade of involvement with our local. The University has agreed in the past, to allow you to spread the severance money out over 2 tax years, the one you are in and the one following it, to reduce the amount of money you will be required to pay Revenue Canada.
If you decline severance and choose to continue employment at the University instead, the next choice you will be offered on your election form comes with two options. In both cases you will be required to submit a current resume to the SBA handling your file.
PLACEMENT: This is perhaps the most difficult for our members to understand and the most complicated. YOU will submit your resume to the SBA assigned to you and then YOU will be required to monitor the job postings, and, if YOU see one you would like to apply for, notify the SBA and they will submit your application to the Hiring Manager. YOU MUST BE QUALIFIED FOR THE POSITION YOU ARE APPLYING FOR. Many disagreements center around whether you are in fact qualified for the position you would like to interview for. The placement option is only for VACANT POSITIONS. In a time when the University is downsizing, there are very few vacant positions. The placement option does allow you to revert back to your severance option if you find after a few weeks you are not seeing many job postings on campus that you are interested in or qualified for. If you do revert back to severance, IT WILL BE AT A REDUCED AMOUNT. For every week you are on placement you will receive less severance if you revert.
BUMPING: In the times we are in, and with a desire on your part to remain employed at the University, this is currently the only viable option. It is also the most challenging and most work for the SBA assigned to you to accomplish. Once again, YOU will be required to submit a current resume to the SBA assigned to you and upon signing your Election Form they will be required, as per Article 12.1.6, to provide you with 2 bumping options or jobs within 21 calendar days. They will look at your resume to see what skill set you have and then look over the seniority lists to find a position for you to bump into. They will tell you that its not about getting your dream job, it’s about maintaining your employment at the University and, from my perspective, maintaining your seniority. There is new language in our most recent contract that states that you will be given 2 options and you must choose one. You do not get to revert back to the other bumping option you are provided if you find the choice you made is not working out as well as you would have hoped. You do not get to choose where or what position you want to bump into. Your only choice will be to select one of the two options presented to you. I encourage everyone going through a layoff to read the language in Article 12 to know and understand your options and reach out to our Union or the SBA assigned to get clarity on things within that Article if need be.
We did work with and sign an MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) with the employer, in the last 2 months, in regards to the bumping process. There was a concern between both parties abut the possibility of group layoffs happening at the University. This has happened with the Resident Caretakers where a number of them received permanent layoffs. The employer suggested, and we agreed, that in this event, a group of employees with the same qualifications and skill set be treated more as a group. If there were 6 employees involved, per se, instead of offering 1 of these individuals 2 positions, waiting for them to choose, offering the second individual 2 positions etc., the way it would be handled is that they would be treated as a group and if there were 6 people involved, they would offer 7 choices to the most senior employee and then after their selection, the next senior employee would receive 6 choices, all the way down until the last employee in the group with the least amount of seniority would still be offered 2 choices. This Agreement was bought forward to try and get people back working as soon as possible. This MOA also references that if you choose to bump and then are bumped into a position, that you cannot be bumped out of that position for at least 6 months.
In closing, I would encourage all of you to read your Collective Agreements (one was mailed out to each of you after our last contract was ratified or go on to our website and access it there). Also, if you are close to retirement and this happens to you, its difficult to make an informed decision without all the financial details. Everyone who was working at the University and enrolled in the old Non-Academic Pension Plan would have received a statement early in 2020 outlining what you can expect to receive from the plan in retirement. If you are 60 years of age or close to it you should have created a My Service Canada Account, where you can find what level of support you will receive from The Canadian Pension Plan. As always, if you have any questions, reach out to our Union office and me or one of the other Union Reps will get back to you.
Bob Jones, Acting President