Local 1 (Viterra – Ops & Maintenance) NOTICE OF EMPLOYER FINAL OFFER AND VOTE

 April 3, 2019

GSU Local 1 Members (Viterra Country Operations & Maintenance),

On March 26 and 27, 2019 the bargaining committees for GSU Locals 1 and 2 met with Viterra representatives to resume agreement renewal collective bargaining. Despite our best efforts those bargaining meetings did not result in a tentative settlement since we were unable to resolve key issues related to wage rates and wage increases.

Instead of a tentative settlement GSU’s Local 1 and 2 bargaining committee has received a final offer from Viterra and is bringing that offer to union members for a vote as to acceptance or rejection. Each Local will conduct a separate vote on Viterra’s final offer as it pertains to the collective agreement covering their bargaining unit.

The questions on the ballot members will receive are as follows:

  • I accept the final offer received from Viterra Inc. on April 2, 2019 and I authorize Grain & General Services Union to conclude the renewal of the collective agreement covering the bargaining unit employees based on the proposed final offer.
  • I reject the final offer received from Viterra on April 2, 2019.

GSU’s bargaining committee is not recommending how members should vote with regard to Viterra’s April 2, 2019 final offer.

Each member is entitled to a vote by casting a ballot. There will not be any proxy voting permitted. Absentee voting will be permitted provided the member wishing to cast an absentee ballot makes prior arrangements with the GSU office in Regina and casts their ballot by April 22, 2019.

GSU is arranging with Viterra to conduct workplace votes at each location. Members will be informed of the date and time of the opportunity to vote at their workplace.

Once the voting is complete, the ballots cast will be counted by the executive committee. The results will be reported to GSU members and Viterra.

Hugh Wagner
Bargaining Committee Spokesperson

Local 1 – Jim Brown (Balgonie), Brett North (Moose Jaw), Wilfred Harris (Carnduff), Travis Brewer (Saskatoon)
Local 2 – Sheila Tran (Regina), Howard Wilson (Regina)


GSU/Viterra Country Operations & Maintenance Collective Agreement

In addition to the Notice of Final Offer message above, a link to this Final Offer Report and the final offer received from Viterra on April 2, 2019 was sent to members via email on April 3.

Members can read and download Viterra’s final offer by clicking on the following link:

If an Article or section of an Article of the collective agreement is not mentioned in this report, it means there will not be any change to that Article or section as the case may be. 

Article 1Scope and Definition of the collective agreement would be changed to reflect Viterra’s somewhat new approach to wages based on salary ranges, job rate ranges and work streams which are set out in the April 2 final offer.

Article 4 Company Relations of the collective agreement would be changed to update the language regarding employee access to performance appraisals, evaluations and personnel files. In addition the prohibited grounds of discrimination would be updated to be consistent with the Canadian Human Rights Act. It has been changed by amending section 12.3 to recognize that postings are now online.

Article 8 Benefit Plans of the collective agreement would be amended by updating the sick leave procedure in section 8.2 Sick Leave to include providing medical reports to a designate of the Company. Section 8.3 Extended Sick Leave would be amended to reduce the waiting period to one week (currently two weeks) and increase the covered period of time from 105 calendar days to 112 calendars days. Similar to regular sick leave, employee medical reports may be provided to a designate appointed by the Company. The reference to extended sick leave ceasing at normal retirement age will be deleted.

Article 11Workers’ Compensation of the collective agreement would be amended to delete the current section 11.2 since WCB benefits are paid directly to Company at 90 percent of the employee’s net salary, while the employee continues to receive her/his salary from the Company. Section 11.4 will be amended to clarify participant’s in an employee’s return to work plan and section 11.5 will be deleted since it is redundant.

Article 13Leaves of Absence of the collective agreement would be amended by modifying the description of Pressing Necessity set out in section 13.3 and by adding a new section 13.9 Personal Family Leave. The proposed new section 13.9 would provide for up to five days of personal family leave; with up to three days being paid and charged to employees’ accumulated sick leave (provided the employee has at least three months of continuous service.)

Article 14Supplemental Employment Benefit (SEB) of the collective agreement would be amended in section 14.1 a) by reducing the eligibility for SEB benefits to one year and by increasing the number of weeks of SEB benefits available to employees with more than one, but less than four years’ service.

Article 17Temporary Performance of Higher Duty (TPHD) of the collective agreement would be amended to provide that TPHD pay is only available when an employee is assigned to temporarily relieve in a position with a higher salary grade.

Article 19 Shift Differential, Call Out and Standby Pay of the collective agreement would be amended by increasing the shift differentials set out in sections 19.1 and 19.2 to $1.75 per hour.

Article 21Vacations of the collective agreement would be amended in section 21.3 to increase the maximum vacation accrual rate on overtime worked from eight (8) percent to ten (10) percent.  

Article 24 Position Elimination of the collective agreement would be amended to provide that employees subject to position elimination who receive pay in lieu of notice instead of working notice will have the option to choose immediate termination of employment and severance pay.

Article 25Scale of Wages/Salaries, Job Titles, Work Streams Salary Grades and Salary Ranges of the collective agreement would be amended to include the concept of work streams as well as changes to position titles, salary grades and salary ranges (including minimums and maximums for each grade and work stream as set out the attached copy of the Company’s April 2 final offer.

Notwithstanding the Company’s proposed new compensation (pay) structure, the salary maximums set out in the collective agreement that expired on October 31, 2018 will continue to apply to all current employees (as of the date of ratification) for the duration of the proposed collective agreement, after which the amended compensation (pay) structure will apply to all employees. Pay adjustments as proposed by the Company would become effective as of January 1, 2019.

The Company proposes the following annual aggregate salary increases:

  1. January 1, 2019 – 2.5%
  2. January 1, 2020 – 2.0%
  3. January 1, 2021 – 2.0%
  4. January 1, 2022 – 2.5%  

Article 27 Effective Date and Duration of Agreement of the collective agreement would be from November 1, 2018 to October 31, 2022; a term of four (4) years.

Analysis of Viterra’s April 2, 2019 Final Offer

A key agreement renewal bargaining focus by GSU’s bargaining committee was making changes to the so called pay for performance salary system by guaranteeing each employee annual wage increases at least equal to the rise in the cost of living.

In addition, GSU’s Local 1 and 2 bargaining committee attempted to convince Viterra management to agree to additional incremental annual pay increases that would help employees progress towards the maximum of the salary range for their position.

In response to GSU bargaining proposals, Viterra’s April 2 final offer contains some improvement to collective agreement language in relation to extended sick leave, personal family leave, supplementary employment benefits, vacation pay on overtime, shift differentials and aggregate pay increases. However, the final offer does not address the above wage increase objectives identified by union members and pursued by GSU’s bargaining committee.

GSU’s bargaining committee also argued against the reduction of salary grade maximums and salary downgrades applicable to a number of job titles as contained in Viterra’s proposed salary grades and work streams. However, as indicated in its April 2 final offer, Viterra is only prepared to continue to apply the salary grade maximums from the expired agreement to current employees who would otherwise be negatively affected by the proposed new salary grades and/or salary range maximums.  

Your bargaining committee fought hard to obtain wage increases and a better salary system for all employees. We were not able to convince Viterra management of the worthiness the union bargaining proposals on these subjects. For these reasons GSU’s Local 1 and 2 bargaining committee is not making any recommendation on whether union members should vote to accept or reject Viterra’s April 2, 2019 final offer.

If Viterra’s philosophy in relation to pay for performance salary system is going to change, it is clear to your GSU bargaining committee that a clear and overwhelming commitment to action by union members is required.

It is your bargaining committee’s sincere belief that the members of Locals 1 and 2 are best positioned to determine whether Viterra’s final offer is sufficient to form the basis of new collective agreements.

On behalf of the GSU Local 1 and 2 Bargaining Committee,
Hugh Wagner
General Secretary

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Contact a bargaining committee member directly or email bargaining committee spokesperson Hugh Wagner at gsu@gsu.ca.