Happy Labour Day to Our AJC Members:Unity and strength - more important now than ever :: Association of Justice Counsel News
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August 29th, 2013
August 29th, 2013

Happy Labour Day to Our AJC Members:Unity and strength - more important now than ever

This Labour Day provides the perfect occasion to reflect on the importance of the role of your Association and how we are stronger, together, as we approach a challenging round of negotiations in 2014.  

Seventeen of the 27 collective agreements that Treasury Board negotiates expire in 2014, including our own, in May, 2014. With a federal election on the horizon, being tough with federal employees will surely be part of the Conservatives' campaign platform in 2015.

In fact, it's already started. We are seeing this 'hardball' approach right now with the strike by the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO). As this dispute drags on, it has caused a backlog in the processing of all types of visas and the cost to the Canadian economy is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

This government has chosen this path instead of allocating the estimated $ 4 million it would take to bring PAFSO salaries in line with other comparable federal employees.  As a group that understands the demoralizing effect of falling behind one's comparators, the AJC has been a strong supporter of PAFSO´s cause.

Over the last few months, federal lawyers have felt the impact of the federal government´s deficit reduction and work force adjustment measures: 49 of our AJC members within the Department of Justice were declared surplus. This past summer, we were notified that 17 of our members in British Columbia will be affected. DOJ also asked 30 volunteers in the Tax Law Portfolio to leave their positions.

In addition, it is obvious that on the Conservatives' agenda is to weaken all unions, if not to see them gone.  Bill C-377, the union disclosure bill, which was recently blocked by the Senate and amended considerably, will be back in its original form due to the prorogation of Parliament.

Although many of the amendments would have been to the advantage of the AJC (raising the reporting threshold for expenses to $150,000 from $5,000, and raising the reporting threshold for salaries to $444,661 from $100,000), the real objective of the Bill remains unfavourable to any unionized employee. If Bill C-377 is enacted, it would provide employers with knowledge a union should never disclose publicly: its financial situation.

Uncertainty as to whether a union has the financial means to carry a strike for a long period of time or to challenge before the courts any legislation that violates the Charter, just to name a few examples, is essential for a fair and productive negotiation process. In addition, unions would have to incur additional and unnecessary expenses to comply with this unfair and flawed legislation.

Furthermore, possible attacks to the Rand Formula by this government have also been in the news. The importance of the Rand Formula for all unions, including the AJC, cannot be overstated. This formula is threatened as some Conservative members of Parliament have pledged to eliminate mandatory union dues. The best way to weaken or eliminate a union is to reduce its source of revenues.

To better understand the importance of maintaining the Rand Formula, please take a moment and watch this short video.

We invite you to think about all of these challenges as our next round of negotiations approaches. It will be a busy fall and the AJC will need your support more than ever!

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