Government response to professional fees issue more than disappointing - UPDATED

November 2, 2012

The union has received some sharp criticism from members regarding reimbursement of professional fees. Our agreement with government changed this fee schedule from 2005 to 2009. Within a month of our settlement, the Public Service Agency [PSA] agreed to a better provision with the Professional Employees' Association after refusing to do so with the BCGEU.

This is a double-cross, plain and simple. It will hurt the relationship between the BCGEU and PSA for some time.

Attached is a letter sent to the PSA October 31, outlining our concerns with the turn of events. We have proposed that PSA agree to the same terms for professional fee reimbursement with us and await their reply. In the meantime, we are assessing the likelihood of success in achieving a meaningful remedy through the Labour Relations Board.

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Attached is the B.C. Government's response sent to the BCGEU sent on Nov. 1

Our response - Nov. 2

The Public Service Agency has replied to our request regarding professional fees with a cold shoulder. They refuse to treat our members in the same manner as the Professional Employees' Association when reimbursing these employment expenses. It’s more than disappointing; it damages a working relationship and engenders ill will.

We’ve sought legal advice regarding the likelihood of achieving a meaningful remedy for our members by means of an application to the Labour Relations Board alleging bargaining in bad faith. While we might succeed in obtaining this finding, it would not produce a better provision for reimbursement of these fees. For this reason, we are proceeding with the count of ballots on Monday, November 5th, to ratify the Master and Component agreements.

This turn of events is truly regrettable. Trust is lost, cooperation compromised and efficient labour relations relegated to a lower order of priority. The cost of our proposal was about $230,000 per annum. The efficiencies lost will cost much more.

Rest assured, reimbursement of these fees will be a very high priority in the next round of bargaining. In the meantime, your employer will reap what they sow, distrust and a lack of cooperation.