Workers who aren’t familiar about unions ask us what we do. The simplest answer is that we assist employees with problems in their workplace.
Simply having Labour standards and collective agreements in place often isn’t enough. They need to be enforced to make sure they mean something.
We are available to ensure our members are treated fairly under the terms of their collective agreements and labour standards we help our members in whatever way they need help. Sometimes they just want advice or clarification. Sometimes they want a little help writing a letter to a supervisor or straightening out a problem with a pay cheque or overtime. There are also occasions where members request more formal assistance, such as filing a grievance or attending a discipline meeting.
We will work with you to find answers to your questions, assist you to solve problems in your workplace, recommend what course of action is best to follow, and work with you to find the solutions that work for you. We will not act on behalf of our members without consultation, direction, and approval from you.
The privacy of our members is important to our members and it’s important to us.
With that in mind, these are real examples of some of the assistance we have recently provided. As always, situations are described without listing any identifying personal information about who was being assisted. “another problem SOLVED!” is a regular feature on our www.gsu.ca website and in our Tuesday Morning Memos. The following information has been reposted from that page.
- After a long, hard battle, a GSU member was awarded Worker’s Compensation benefits for an injury he sustained while at work.The member was seriously injured in a workplace accident. His injury progressively got worse, and eventually he had to stop work. With assistance from GSU staff rep Lawrence Maier a number of appeals were filed. Two years after the member had to stop working, the Review Decision from Worksafe BC determined the member was entitled to benefits. He recently received a cheque for 19 months of back pay, and he was to be assessed for the period following the 19 months of back pay to determine further benefits.
- A GSU member received a position elimination letter. Staff Rep Dale Markling met with the member, explained all the available options, rights, and entitlements, and discussed what would ultimately work best for the member. The member left the discussion armed with the facts they needed to make an informed decision.
- A GSU member received an offer of an early retirement package from his employer. He inquired whether it could be restructured to fit his personal situation. Hugh Wagner intervened with the employer on behalf of the member and a restructuring of the package was negotiated to the better advantage of the member.
- You don’t need to wait until the sky is falling to call GSU. We answer little questions, too.
A GSU member called us wondering how to access his pension and who he should talk to in order get the things underway. GSU staff rep Steve Torgerson provided the appropriate names and contact numbers to the member. The member later called back to say he got the information he needed, and he thanked Steve for the help.
- A GSU member was being unreasonably denied vacation time which had previously been requested by the member and approved by their employer. The member contacted the GSU office to find out what their rights were and how to best address the situation with the employer. With assistance, advice, and information from GSU staff rep Lawrence Maier, the member was able to approach their employer and respectfully assert their rights with confidence.
- Not every situation is straight forward and we often run into grey areas when we are helping GSU members. A GSU member was given an Article 24 (position elimination) and received the 120-day notice as required in the collective agreement.The member was relatively new to Canada decided to better themselves and their situation by furthering their education. They successfully applied for and were accepted into a Government of Canada program. The program was scheduled to begin before the member had completed their 120-day notice period.With assistance from GSU staff rep Steve Torgerson, the member was able to negotiate an earlier departure date from the employer which enabled the member to start the program on time but still work long enough to be eligible for severance and top-up benefits of the collective agreement.
- A GSU member was having a tough time figuring out the employment insurance process. With some advice and direction from GSU staff rep Steve Torgerson the member choose the direction to head and was able to straighten out the issues with their employment insurance claim.
- A GSU member who received a position elimination notice stopped by the GSU office to discuss pension, employment insurance, and benefits issues with GSU staff rep Lawrence Maier.GSU does not provide financial advice but we can discuss pension options, explain what the different choices mean, calculate commuted value estimates, and provide information and assistance regarding Employment Insurance.
- A GSU member contacted staff rep Steve Torgerson with an inquiry about required company training scheduled immediately after a work shift. With advice from Torgerson, the member approached their manager and worked out a training schedule which accommodated work schedules and hours of rest.
- An employee had a disagreement with their manager. The employee contacted GSU and staff rep Steve Torgerson assisted with some advice and direction on what to do. With advice from Torgerson, the employee and went back to work for their next shift, talked things out with the manager, and the two were able to move forward.
- The union was made aware of employees in a classification who were not being paid what they should have been paid. A grievance was filed and ultimately resolved with the employees receiving some back pay and being placed into the proper job family level(s) for their positions.
- An employee retired on July 2. They were told that if they didn’t work the day after Canada Day they would not be paid stat holiday pay for the day. GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner raised the issue with management who confirmed that the retiring employee had been misinformed and they would indeed be paid for Canada Day.
- An employee had retired in the middle of the year without receiving the STIP payment they were entitled to. GSU staff rep Dale Markling followed up with company HR representatives and the employee was subsequently paid the amount they should have received. No grievance was required.
- GSU staff rep Steve Torgerson attended a discipline meeting and assisted a GSU member. Every GSU member has the right to have union representation at discipline meetings. Do you have questions about discipline hearings or your rights under your collective agreement? Contact GSU for advice or assistance.
- A retired Local 1 member contacted GSU as a result of Viterra’s failure to pay them retroactively with regard to the wage increases that went into effect before their date of retirement. After a couple of email interventions by GSU general secretary Hugh Wagner the employee’s retro pay is being adjusted.GSU will advocate on your behalf. When you request, we will represent you at meetings with management, insurance companies, or government agencies like EI and workers’ compensation. Call your GSU staff rep to learn more.
- a GSU member was having problems with their extended sick leave. With the written consent of the member, staff rep Steve Torgerson contacted Manulife, got things straightened out, and the member was placed on extended sick leave.
- A GSU member who received an Article 24 position elimination stopped at the GSU office to discuss pension, employment insurance, and benefits issues with staff rep Lawrence Maier. The Union does not provide financial advice but can discuss pension options and explain what the different choices mean. The Union also provides information and help regarding Employment Insurance.
- A GSU member inquired about serious illness leave and exactly what qualified. GSU staff rep Steve Torgerson explained the appropriate uses―which included the member’s particular situation. Armed with the proper information, the member intended to request use of the serious illness leave as outlined in the collective agreement.
- GSU staff rep Lawrence Maier assisted a GSU member in discussing issues with a supervisor. Things were worked out and both parties were satisfied with the result.
- Staff rep Steve Torgerson assisted a GSU member with their bumpy transition from sick leave to long term disability. With Steve’s assistance, things are straightened out and the member is on LTD.
- When an employer suggested laying off a GSU member who had run short of earned sick leave credits, staff rep Steve Torgerson helped the member transition into the extended sick leave provisions outlined in the collective agreement.
- When a GSU member was told they would be brought in for a discipline meeting they immediately contacted the GSU office. Prior to the meeting, GSU staff rep Steve Torgerson gave the member some advice on the do and don’ts of attending a discipline meeting. Torgerson stressed the importance of having a fellow GSU member, officer, or staff rep accompany the member to the meeting and Torgerson offered suggestions of who the member could approach about accompanying them to the meeting. The member was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting and does not anticipate taking grievance action.