Shaw management has denied that they violated the collective agreement by paying several Guild members less than the minimum rates in our collective agreement and by using an unpaid intern to do bargaining unit work. With their minimal response, we contend they’ve violated the collective agreement yet again.
When a union member believes that the employer has acted inappropriately, he/she is required to bring the issue to management’s attention. If the employer doesn’t agree to resolve the issue, or denies a violation, the member or the union have the right to file a formal grievance. After a grievance is filed, both sides are supposed to meet in order to clarify the facts and examine possible ways to resolve the dispute. In these two cases, management has issued its formal response to the grievances without even holding a meeting.
At least four employees have been paid less than the minimums set out in the collective agreement. There doesn’t seem to be any disagreement about the basic facts, but the company hasn’t done anything to remedy the situation for these employees who have lost thousands of dollars of salary and overtime over the past couple of years.
The other case deals with the engagement of interns to perform work without payment. The Guild’s branch president Mike Duong points out: “This isn’t about whether Shaw can have interns in the workplace. We think internships and student placements are useful things. But before a student comes in, everyone – the school, the student, the employer and the employees, via their union – needs to understand what the rules are, and what the student should and shouldn’t be doing. And internships aren’t meant to be a source of free labour.”
Although the company has given its formal position, the Guild is asking for a grievance meeting anyway. “We actually want to resolve these things. We don’t want to fight, but it’s hard when the company refuses to even give any reasons for what it’s doing”.
If no resolution is forthcoming, the Guild can ask an independent arbitrator to hear both sides of the dispute and issue a binding decision.
We’ll keep you posted on developments. For more information, contact Keith Maskell (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 416-591-5333.