With the merger of BC Tel and Telus, the bargaining unit structure of Telus came into issue. Prior the the merger, the Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU) represented employees of BC Tel. Telus employees in Alberta were in three units. The largest is certified to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) and the CSU have smaller units.
Telus applied to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for consolidation of the four units, but the main issues were diverted into discussions among the parties. An agreement was reached by Telus and the four unions with the assistance of mediator Stephen Kelleher by which the four bargaining units would be merged into one. Some issues of exclusions were left to be decided by the Board. Hearings have been concluded, but no decision has been issued yet.
Under the agreement, a vote will be held by the Canada Board among all bargaining unit employees as to which union will represent them. Ballots were mailed by the Board to all eligible employees earlier this month. The voting process closes May 24, 2000.
The Canada Board retains ultimate jurisdiction to determine the outcome, but the two unions are locked in a major campaign as the voting proceeds. Much of this campaign is being waged in cyberspace. The combatants are posting summaries and updates of the legal proceedings and relevant “facts”, comparisons of collective agreement terms, and emotional appeals.
© 2000 HARRIS & COMPANY