Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘15

Jul 31, 2015

Dear AJC colleagues,

If the rumours are true, we are about to embark on a long federal election campaign. There is much speculation that the Conservative government will drop the writ this weekend, earlier than had been expected for an October 19th federal vote. The result will be a campaign period much longer than the 37-day minimum required by law.

First off, what happens to negotiations? We have been bargaining since January 2014. Your AJC negotiating team has met Treasury Board eight times, with limited progress. We do not expect another bargaining session before the election, since the employer will be effectively without instructions once the writ drops, as Treasury Board will be unable to make any changes to their mandate. In the meantime, the present AJC collective agreement applies. The terms and conditions of your employment cannot be modified during the bargaining process [subject of course to Bill C-59, which is being challenged].

Secondly, you have probably read about AJC members making the jump into politics.  We believe they are free to do so and we are defending one of our members right now, who is challenging the Public Service Commission’s decision not to grant her a leave of absence to seek political office.

Thirdly, we are aware that other federal unions have taken the ‘anybody-but-Conservative’ (ABC) approach to this election. That being said, the AJC continues to apply its convention of not endorsing any party.

It is clear that the rights of unions, and in particular the AJC and other federal public service unions, have been attacked under this government. This is a fact.

The AJC’s role is to negotiate on your behalf, and also to defend your rights.  We have clearly been more vocal in the last few years because we need to be.  We have expressed our opposition to certain bills, we have pushed back with important policy grievances, and we have taken a stand.  By doing so, some members might think we are being political. But in our recent criticisms, we have not targeted any party expressly.  We have taken aim at the government policies and decisions themselves that adversely affect your rights as federal employees.

Having said that, it is clear that the rights of unions, and in particular the AJC and other federal public service unions, have been attacked under this government. This is a fact.  Through the adoption of omnibus budget Bill C-4, we have lost our right to arbitration.  You have heard it before, but the significance cannot be overstated.  The list is long.  Bill C-525 has weakened union rights around certification.  Bill C-377 could cripple unions with the obvious breaches of privilege and confidentiality, never mind the accounting workload.  Bill C-59 allows Treasury Board to simply trump your Charter right to collectively bargain and unilaterally impose whatever they wish to replace the sick leave in our collective agreement with something inferior.

You should know that the collective bargaining agents’ efforts over the last several months have resulted in securing commitments from the Liberal and NDP parties to repeal bills c-377 and portions of C-59 affecting unionized employees.  I have shared blogs on these issues, and I invite you to check them out by clicking on the screen on top of this AJC blog page.

Finally, the work we do is important to Canadians. AJC members have expressed this in our recent series of videos you can watch on this blog page or on our YouTube channel.

Through anti-union legislation and negative comments about public servants, this government has contributed to a lack of morale in your workplace.  I do not think this is the best way to treat your employees.

It is your right (some would say your duty) to vote, and I encourage you make your vote count on October 19th.


Your AJC President,
Len MacKay