*AMENDED* BCH & Powertech – Recap of our recent Telephone Townhall
July 15, 2022
To: All MoveUP members at BCH & Powertech
**Further to our bulletin yesterday afternoon, we would like to issue our sincerest apologies to Shelly Johnston as her name was incorrect in the bulletin**
We would like to thank all our members who participated on our telephone townhall on June 28.
As we know there were some members who were unable to attend or were unable to receive a call. While our dialing system is very effective, at times it may encounter connection issues particularly if the receiver is in a poor coverage area or has unknown calls blocked on their phone.
For those who were not able to join the call, we have put together a Q&A summary here on what was discussed.
Who is part of our bargaining committee?
Your bargaining committee is comprised of your vice-president (Rysa Kronebusch) plus two executive board members (Anderson Charles and Calvin Jonas), and three job stewards (Rhys Coulter, Shelly Johnston, and Kelly Cammack). Additionally, we have two union representatives as well (Mike Novak and Javed Saheb).
What has the committee been doing over the last few months?
Your bargaining committee met for five days in March, two days in May, and three days in June to review the results of our members’ survey and to determine our membership’s priorities for this round of bargaining. Our committee relied heavily on what you said on the survey.
Your bargaining committee formulated proposals based on prioritizing the survey results. It took three days to sort through the hundreds and hundreds of survey responses and another seven days to create 28 comprehensive proposals, and we haven’t stopped there.
Rest assured, we are seeking enhancements in all areas of your collective agreement
We anticipate the employer will come to the table with a moderate list of proposals that may or may not be concessionary in nature. Please note that your committee will not accept any concessions.
Why did bargaining not begin sooner since the previous agreement expired on March 31, 2022?
We wanted to commence bargaining at the expiry of the contract, and we scheduled to start bargaining in June. However, your employer cancelled those dates due to their inability to negotiate monetary proposals without a mandate from the Public Sector Employers’ Council (PSEC). The IBEW has encountered similar difficulties in regard to this.
Do you have a sense on how bargaining will go this time around?
We feel this will be the most debated and contentious public sector bargaining that BC Hydro employees have seen in the last 30 years. Your committee is confident, committed, strong and will fight hard to get you a fair contract. But let’s not forget that PSEC will have the final say with respect to wages.
What happens if the BCGEU members in the public sector go out on strike?
At the present time, the BCGEU has indicated that they are planning for strategic, targeted job action. Those strategies could include things such as overtime or work-to-rule (i.e. working to the strictest interpretation of the rule). That means there likely won’t be any picket lines going up any time soon.
In the event a picket line does go up, if you are part of a shared office or otherwise encounter a picket line, then you would be expected to respect the picket line and not cross. In that event, our office will be in coordination with your job stewards to get information out to you as quickly as possible.
The government recently shared information that they offered an 11% raise over three years. How does that affect our bargaining?
The recent proposal that was shared by the BC government was, in some ways, a positive given that it was a significant improvement on what was initially proposed as reported (roughly half of that figure).
However, public sector unions including ours have identified that a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is crucial to supporting members as they deal with rising costs due to inflation. The proposal, in the view of the BCGEU bargaining team, fell short of that expectation.
We are supportive of getting the best deal possible for our members and we will bargain accordingly so as to ensure that outcome without compromising the work that our labour movement partners are engaging in overall.
Will John Horgan stepping down as BC Premier affect bargaining?
No, although we are sure the Premier would like to see fair deal being reached for all parties before he formally relinquishes his position. We also remind members that while the public sector bargaining process may feel frustrating, our negotiators have seen a significant difference in dealing with this government versus the previous BC Liberal governments where 0% wage increases or even wage cuts were frequently tabled, not to mention contracts being torn up or reneged on after being signed (just ask teachers or nurses).
When are our next scheduled bargaining dates?
Currently, we have bargaining dates scheduled for September 12-13, October 12-14, and November 2-4 and 8-10.
Will we have an opportunity to see the proposals before they go to the employer?
The proposals that we ultimately send to your employer are informed by the bargaining surveys that you took. That is why it is so critical for you to fill out those surveys when we send them.
After we have formally presented the proposals to the employer, that is when we will be able to share them with you. It is not strategically-wise to send that out ahead of time because if the employer gets advanced knowledge of what we have in our proposals before they are presented, they get the advantage of countering what we have. That is not to our benefit.
Are we going to go on strike now that the latest BCGEU offer was rejected?
Although the BCGEU members are in a legal position to strike now, though they would still legally have to provide 72-hour notice before engaging in any strike activity, we are nowhere near that point in our bargaining.
If we were to contemplate job action, we would first need to do a strike vote with you and your bargaining unit first.
Once an agreement is reached, will there be retroactive pay?
Depending on the terms of the settlement, we would ask for retroactive pay back to the date that the collective agreement expired.
Is there any way we can support our bargaining committee?
At this time, we ask that our members keep an eye out for bulletins and any other communications that may be coming out. Staying informed is the best we can ask for and should we need further assistance that will be communicated to the membership as the situation changes.
To make sure you are updated, please log in to your Member Portal to ensure that your contact information (email and phone) is current. If you have not registered for a Member Portal account in the past, you can learn more here.
If your information is correct but you have not received any emails from us lately, please fill out our Bulletin Resubscribe Form and we will review your information to ensure you are on our list.
If you have any questions or concerns about bargaining, please connect with us by emailing BCHBargaining@moveuptogether.ca .
Mike Novak, Union Representative
Javed Saheb, Union Representative
Rysa Kronebusch, Vice-President, Utilities
Lori Mayhew, President