In December 2016 a long-service Local 1 (Viterra – Operations) member contacted GSU staff rep Dale Markling upon discovering his employment had been terminated when he decided to burn up a few days’ vacation immediately before retiring. The union member had told his boss about his intention to retire effective December 31, 2016, and when the date approached he arranged to be on vacation for the last few days. Even though he was on vacation, he still responded to work related calls.
The problem came to light when the member received his last pay stub. He discovered that Viterra considered his employment terminated as of his last day at work and his benefit coverage was discontinued. In addition, the member was not paid for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. He was surprised and unhappy.
When staff rep Dale Markling and general secretary Hugh Wagner raised the issue with Viterra management they were informed that employment termination in this type of situation was Company policy at least since mid-2008. Apparently Viterra had decided not to allow employees to use vacation as a bridge to retirement or other terminations of employment. GSU had no prior knowledge and had never been informed of this policy by Viterra.
An executive grievance was filed on behalf of members in Locals 1 and 2. After several grievance meetings, the grievance was resolved on May 12. Viterra agreed to pay the member who had raised the issue for two general/statutory holidays and also agreed that nothing shall alter an employee’s status as an employee of the Company in instances where the employee takes vacation by mutual agreement and/or with the approval of her/his superior.
Even though this matter has been resolved for members of GSU Locals 1 and 2, we encourage all members regardless of their employer, including Viterra, to make absolutely sure what conditions apply when deciding to take unused vacation immediately adjacent to and leading into retirement or other employment termination.
If you would like assistance, call a GSU rep.
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