The Differences between UFCW Local 401 and STEU

Dear UPS Employee, Over the past few months, the unrecognized Specialty and Temporary Employees Union (STEU) has been interfering with the legitimate organizing effort that UFCW Local 401 had been engaged in for all UPS Guards in the province of Alberta. 

As many of you may be aware, UFCW Local 401 has been certified as the representative union for UPS Guards in the Wood Buffalo Municipality of Northern Alberta. Unhappy with the choice of its workers to unionize, the Employer has been interfering with the unionization process. One tactic that the Company is using is engaging a second union, STEU, which will agree with them in regards to low wages, poor benefits, and no employee representation. This is an effort made to keep out UFCW Local 401, a democratic, progressive union that advocates for workers’ rights and is well respected in the Labour Movement in Alberta. 

Local 401 prides itself on representing workers, not the Employer. We negotiate Union Contracts for our members with their constant input and approval because we believe that the workers are the best authority on what they need in the workplace. You have a right to participate in negotiations, and to vote on the outcome of those negotiations. You do not deserve to have STEU impose a substandard (5) year contract upon you that does not reflect the economy in Alberta. 

Background Information on the Specialty and Temporary Employees Union

  • STEU is what we refer to in the Labour Movement as a “company chosen union;” meaning they are willing to make backrooms deals with Employers with no input or benefits to the workers. 
     
  • STEU is not recognized by any legitimate labour organization such as the Alberta Federation of Labour, Canadian Labour Congress, or Alberta Labour Relation Board; they are a rogue union that simply wants to collect union dues and do very little for the membership. This is apparent by the way they are conducting themselves with no input from you, the workers whom will be most affected by this contract.
     
  • STEU is located in Ontario with no representation in the province of Alberta, a situation which will reflect in their ability to represent you. This Ontario based union, has no concept of the industry standards that preside in the province of Alberta. The cost of living and rate of inflation here results in better wages than those in Ontario, this adjustment has not been considered in STEU’s proposed contract wage scale. Further the language throughout the contract reflects the laws and codes of Ontario, such as the Ontario Human Rights Code, or the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario, which will not apply to you in Alberta. The fact that STEU’s contract does not reflect Albertan laws speaks volumes about the consideration STEU has put into who they are representing. 
     
  • The terms “Special” and “Temporary” should also clue you to the fact that this union’s area of focus is not permanent full time employees.  

 

A Breakdown of the STEU proposed substandard contract

UFCW Local 401 would be ashamed to present this contract for its members to vote upon. Having represented workers in Alberta for over 50 years, Local 401 is well aware of the workings conditions, and financial necessities faced by Alberta residents. Some of the articles and schedules in the Union Contract put forward by STEU that we are especially concerned with are: 

 

Schedule A

  • STEU wants to implement a province wide contract that will set wages for the next (5) years at a top rate of $12.81, making it effective until the year 2018. This is unacceptable, as it doesn’t account for inflation or allow for market changes to be reflected in the contract. There are people working at McDonalds that are making more money now than you will be in 5 years. You are skilled professionals, and this proposed rate it disgraceful. 

 

Article 4: Management Right

  • Under this clause, STEU has given the Employer exclusive rights to control all aspects of working conditions without reprisal from the Union; effectively disabling the Union’s power and squashing the workers’ rights. 

Article 5: Relationship

  • The relationship between STEU and the Company is cozy, and does not allow the Union to have any presence in workplace without the Company’s permission. 

Article 6: Union Security

  • This article dictates that you shall pay an “unspecified amount” of bi-weekly union dues after only two weeks and 16 hours of employment.  This means that if this contract is approved you’ll have to accept paying whatever rate STEU proposes after the fact, regardless of how much it is. 

Article 11: Layoff and Recall 

  • Layoff and Recall procedures under the proposed STEU contract afford the employees the right to notice only if it is “reasonably practicable subject to the provision of the Employment Standards Act,”-this is unacceptable. UFCW Local 401 does not believe that we should negotiate the minimums that the law requires, as the purpose of unions is to provide standards above and beyond what are legally required. 

Article 12: Seniority

  • Apart from a grievance procedure, seniority is the most important aspect of a Union Contract. STEU’s seniority clauses give the Employer the right to take away your seniority rights after only 3 days of absence, and do not mention anything about absences due to illness or conditions beyond the employee’s control.  These are important issues that you must consider.  

Article 14: Hours of Work and Overtime

  • No allocation of overtime shall be given to part time employees, and there is no penalty if the Employer does not choose certain workers for overtime.  The contract provides no definition for overtime apart from the Employment Standards. 
     
  • Guards are constantly “on duty,” and must eat on the job site. 

Article 15: Vacation Entitlement

  • STEU has again agreed to the Employment Standards stipulations of vacation days. 

Article 16: Paid Holidays

  • STEU has agreed to only 8 hours of holiday pay at regular rate instead of your regular work day, which may be up to 12 hours. It does not refer to time and half, or double time for working on a holiday. Once again, STEU is content with accepting the bare minimum conditions put forth in Employment Standards. 

Article 17: Classifications and Hourly Wages

  • STEU had agreed for UPS workers to be paid the rates established in Schedule A, with not less than (25) cents above minimum wage, and has no guarantee of progression for employees. 

Article 19: Health and Safety

  • STEU has allowed the Employer to put minimum restriction on the health and safety (under Ontario’s Law), and only ensures that if injured on the job, an employee will be paid for the remained or their shift at straight time. 

 

UFCW Local 401’s Concluding Opinion on the STEU Contract

As mentioned numerous times, this contract only benefits the Employer. 90% of this contract is made up of laws that already in place in the Province of Alberta. This contract does nothing to improve upon the working conditions dictated in the Employment Standards code which are already experience by UPS Guards. The fact that STEU has provided you with a contract to vote upon that contains clauses that don’t even reference the right province is totally unacceptable, especially when you never had a say in it. Many of you are currently being paid higher wages than this contract proposes, especially if you’re working in the North. This has to tell you that STEU is not the right union for you. 

 

An Introduction to UFCW Local 401

UFCW Local 401 has approximately 28, 000 members in the province of Alberta, and has negotiated some of the best union contacts in the Province.  It is well respected by the Alberta Federation of Labour, as well as the Canadian Labour Congress as a union that represents it workers and believes in workers involvement in the development of its Union Contract. 

We approach the development of a contract by first gathering proposals from all the workers whom the contract will affect. These proposals can include things like annual job and safety training or shift length stipulations. We then create a negotiating committee made up of representative workers from various job classifications. These workers will negotiate side by side with the Union to ensure that the contract created, reflects their needs. When the negotiating committee, the Union, and the Employer have reached an acceptable contract, only then is it presented to all the workers to vote upon. Through every step of the process UFCW Local 401 works with the members. 

UFCW Local 401 is known for it hard line against Employers who try to make back room deals with unions, or try to intimidate workers from joining a strong, progressive union like Local 401. Local 401 makes no apologies for taking this hard line with employers because we are there to represent you, the workers, not the employer. It is apparent that UPS does not what to have this type of a union because they will have to pay decent wages and deal with workers who are represented by a strong union. 

“I’m proud of Local 401’s record,” says UFCW Local 401 President Douglas O’Halloran.  “We’re allowing workers to participant in the negotiation of their first contract which is the fundamental basis for a member’s involvement in the Union.” 

UPS security guards should know that UFCW Local 401 will not accept any contract that is not voted on and ratified by the membership. “The majority of members will has to vote in favour of a union contract before it will be acceptable to Local 401,” continues O’Halloran. “If the workers don’t like the proposed contract they have the right to reject it and send the union negotiating committee back to negotiations.” 

It is also important to know that UFCW Local 401 covers the cost for its members to participate in the negotiations of their Union Contract. We cover the cost of wages, hotels, meeting space, and per diems; all before we even receive any union dues from the membership. We do this because workers should have the right to participate in their union and know what they will receive for their union dues.  

 

A Message to all UPS Workers

The Specialty and Temporary Employees Union is a scam.  If you decide to join by voting yes for the Union Contract you will have to live with this contract for (5) years.  

You have a choice by saying no. 

Please get informed further before you make this drastic decision by contacting UFCW Local 401.

 

Alberta Labour Relations Board hearings will be held on August 27 and 28, 2012 to determine the successorship of United Protections Services from United First Nations Corp. Find updates on this and other issues related to UPS at www.877gounion.ca  and www.facebook.com/877gounion.ca.  

 

 

Chris O'Halloran 

 

UFCW Local 401

Union Representative

403-797-2878

cohalloran@ufcw401.ab.ca

www.facebook.com/877gounion.ca

twitter.com/877gounion 

102 - 2635 37 Ave NE 

Calgary, AB

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