Town Hall on Pension and Benefits Issues

October 14, 2019

Town Hall on Pension and Benefits Issues

We will be holding a Town Hall to provide full explanations on CUASA’s positions and answer any questions on these issues. The Town Hall will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, October 15, from 2:00-3:00pm in 270 Residence Commons. All CUASA members are welcome and strongly encouraged to attend.

Issue 1: Pension

CUASA wishes to advise its members that it has had to temporarily suspend its participation on the Joint Pension Review Committee (JPRC) because of Carleton University’s repeated attacks on CUASA members’ pension rights and forcing the parties into interest arbitration on May 7, 2020.

During collective bargaining, the University tabled a proposal that attacked the pension language of Article 39.8, which would have stripped CUASA of its rights to fairly negotiate terms on behalf of its members. The pension issue was contentious and with the assistance of Arbitrator William Kaplan during mediation, the parties agreed to continue their discussions post-bargaining within four months of ratification, rather than hold up the process (read the Letter of Understanding here). The University’s proposal, having been fully rejected by CUASA during bargaining, fell off the table and ratification of the collective agreement was reached.

At the April 25, 2019 meeting of the CUASA-CU Joint Committee for the Administration of the Agreement (JCAA) the employer re-tabled the exact same language on Article 39.8, which you can see here. This tabling occurred ten months after the collective agreement was ratified on June 18, 2018, and two months after it had officially been signed on February 7, 2019, which is well outside the four-month window the parties agreed to in mediation with Arbitrator Kaplan.

At the May 22, 2019 JCAA meeting, CUASA responded that it was not going to engage with the University outside of official collective bargaining. We asked the Employer to withdraw its proposal and to cease attempts to bargain outside of the proper bargaining window.

In response to CUASA’s refusal to tolerate a direct pension attack, the University filed for interest arbitration, for which the first hearing is scheduled on May 7, 2020.

As a result of the University’s continued attacks on CUASA’s pension article, and the University’s use of the JPRC forum to its own perceived advantage, CUASA is unable to continue participating at the JPRC in order to best protect its members’ interests on the pension topic.

As part of our Letter of Understanding reached in mediation in May 2018, CUASA and Carleton agreed to meet with Arbitrator Michelle Flaherty to negotiate a Letter of Understanding for CUASA’s participation at the Joint Pension Review Committee (read the LOU here). The JPRC arose as a result of CUPE 2424’s previous round of bargaining. It has a mandate to review the existing governance structure of the pension plan and to develop possible options for modifications of the current framework.

CUASA is appalled by the actions of the University, as they potentially impact all unionized workers participating in the pension plan. At the Joint Pension Review Committee meetings held December 20, 2018, March 21, April 4, and April 18, 2019, all unions and the administration tentatively decided that there must be a unanimous decision across all unions in order for any recommended changes to the pension plan to be considered by the Pension Committee.

By creating conditions that prohibit CUASA from fully participating in the JPRC without prejudice to its rights, the University has prevented the unions on reaching unanimous agreement.

Issue 2: Health Plan and Access to Health Services

CUASA wishes to advise its members that it has filed two Association grievances against Carleton University.

CUASA grieves that the University’s Health plan is contrary to the laws of Ontario and the collective agreement (Articles 5, 6, 7, and 39) by refusing to accept referrals or prescriptions from nurse practitioners and midwives, which are authorized medical services in Ontario. The requirement that all referrals or prescriptions come exclusively from a medical doctor is a violation of employees’ rights to seek treatment from a medical practitioner of their own choice.

CUASA further grieves that the University is in violation of the collective agreement (Articles 3, 6, 7, and 35) by winding down access for our members to the campus medical clinic, despite a longstanding practice that allowed CUASA members to seek general medical care from a primary healthcare provider.

We are deeply concerned about substantial changes being made that have the potential to affect our members’ health and wellbeing.

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