We are now only a few weeks into a new year, but we can all agree that it is going to be another strange one. Collectively, we are trying to move forward in a world where change can feel like the only constant. It is unsettling to realize that we have made it through the past two years of the pandemic, yet COVID-19 is still with us. Add on to this the fact that we are currently working without a new Collective Agreement, waiting for Bell to come to the table without Maintenance of Activities agreement demands, respecting our full right to strike in the event of a breakdown in negotiations.
The most important thing that your union would like to say to you right now is that you are not alone. Let us be considerate of each other, while at the same time strong and determined in our resolve to be treated with respect in the workplace. We have all experienced changes that Bell has imposed on our jobs under their, “right to manage,” that have caused many of us undue amounts of stress. And no, the union does not, “sign off,” on any of these changes, and when informed, the details are lacking. This never becomes apparent until they are rolled out in full to the affected departments, despite what may be suggested in pre-shift or tailgate meetings. We continue to grieve violations of the collective agreement regularly, as well as fight against Bell’s, “re-interpretations,” of articles that have both decades of past-practice and strong unambiguous language. This is who we are dealing with, and the only tools available to us are the same as any union—file grievances and go to arbitration. In years past, union leaders were often able to pick up the phone and contact managers or the human resources department to settle issues, as we both shared a common goal and a working respect for each other. Today, this has sadly vanished.
This brings us to today, January 26th, “Bell Let’s Talk Day”. While this initiative has served a great purpose in getting people to talk about mental health issues and has raised a considerable amount of money for Canadian mental health programs, it can be a difficult day for many of us who work for Bell and struggle with anxiety and mental health issues exacerbated by aggressive sales targets and ever-growing workload expectations. We want you to know that your union is understanding of these increasing workplace stressors and encourages people to reach out when levels of stress become too overwhelming.
Finally, please know that your union remains strong and is committed to getting all members a new and fair contract. Working in Solidarity with thousands of Unifor members from Bell Clerical in Central Canada, we look forward to getting to the bargaining table and ensuring a strong framework and mutually agreed upon language that will allow us to partner together in growing the business for the good of both Bell and our membership.
Jeff Nelson; Lee Pearce; Sandy Brideau; Faith Chaisson; Susan Rice; Christina Mill; Stéphane Lamoureux, Cullen Bolger, Roch Leblanc