Sunday, April 25, 2010

Moving forward...

Well, the strike is over, and we're all trying to return to "normal" as quickly as we can. We can start to put the past couple of months behind us, and look forward to the future. What that looks like is hard to say. We're having a bumpy start.

In a perfect world, this whole situation could become a learning experience for both sides (of the table.) Something we'd all like to prevent from happening again.

Wouldn't it be something, if we could set an example to our Community, by all pulling together and make the NDCU's 60th year a positive memory... for everyone? With open, HONEST communications and respect? Happy staff, Members and Management? All working together to make our Credit Union a model, of how to take a bad situation, and turn it into something much better than it ever was? A lovely rainbow, after the storm.

Yah, I'm dreaming. There's a lot of work to do, and I sure don't have any easy answers.

I had hopes of this blog evolving into something more positive than just a reminder of where we ended up, (as a part of the history at the NDCU,). But there's many that would rather pretend it never happened. Is that the solution? Just sweep it under the rug, only to have the same problems creep up again?

I'm hoping there will be many positive posts to come, showing that changes have happened and that we are all moving forward.
Perhaps we should acknowledge the strike and keep it as a reminder of where we were, and where we hope not to end up again? Hmmm, only time will tell.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gratitude and thank yous....

There are so many people who deserve to be acknowledged and praised, for helping us in so many ways, throughout this strike. It would be difficult to to list them all, (and there may be some who do not want their names publicized. )

We would like to say a heartfelt "Thank you!" to each person, business and group, that brought us: food, drinks, words of support, ideas, understanding, letters, donations, love, cheer, wisdom, patience, information, etc, etc, etc.

To everyone that helped us during the strike, (you know who you are,) please accept our sincerest gratitude - we thank you all!

To our negotiating team (Rick, Katie, Karol, and Robert) and our Union Financial Secretary (our leader) Doug Singer, each one deserves a hearty round of applause and a standing ovation for their hard work, on our behalf. Their unfailing dedication, tenacity, and efforts before, and during the strike, will be remembered for a long time. "Thank you" says so little, yet what else can we say?

Overall, we have proven ourselves to be a vibrant, professional and unified group. Working together we will continue to strengthen our ties.

We've also seen the true colours of our employer and are keenly aware that we will need to remain vigilant…

Progress was made, and for that we are grateful. We are proud of our team's efforts, unity and passion.

Our gratitude to our Members, friends, neighbours, businesses and groups is humbling, and we hope that your support will continue, at the AGM next week (April 27-7pm) and beyond.

In solidarity- The United Steel Magnolias.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Beyond the picket line...

As we've started to return to work, 6 staff (tellers & reception)-the 1st day -Thurs), most of the rest on Friday, and by Monday I think just about everyone should be back to work.
I hope our members will continue to show patience as we try to get things back to normal.
There's many things that have been left undone, piled up over the past 2 months, to be dealt with by returning staff.
(Also there were some needless things like certificates and personal photos removed from the wall, and boxes of files in another, while the reception area was in total disarray…just a couple of examples of our return to work conditions. ) Anyhow, there was no need for many things, (including the strike) and some things done were just mean.

I'm not saying we were angels (on the picket line). But we helped many people, even while we were outside on the street.
We didn't discourage or prevent people from doing their banking, and answered what questions we could, offered suggestions and options, to help our members during the difficult time.

Meanwhile, our employer was barricading themselves in the bank, posting our wages on the windows and allowing only one member in at a time for service (for most of the strike) and for very limited hours as their
"doorman", screened members before allowing them inside.

I was one of the "lucky" 6 that returned that 1st day back.
It was the 15th - a busy, stressful and long day.
I wasn't the only one with a pounding headache at the end of that day.

Our Employer neglected to advise the Newspaper that there was limited staff returning to work.
Many Members were so happy to be able to finally come in, and not have to cross a picket line.
Numerous people just stopped in to welcome us back, others were surprised to see our familiar faces, and for the whole day too!

However the long line-ups, with only 6 staff trying to serve them all was totally uncalled for and an unpleasant surprise.
(BTW-Management were in the Boardroom having a meeting MOST of the day... AFTER they'd done some work that should've been done by the staff they didn't call back in!)
Already breaking our agreement and continuing to divide us.
Still our members had to wait much longer than they should have.

I hope our members will remember this Strike , when they come to our AGM April 27 at 7pm at the Nelson Prestige.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Last blog from the picket line...

Our Employer has had MANY opportunities to show a little grace and goodwill towards their staff in the past 682 days. Even now, as we make arrangements to return to work, they refuse to be flexible.

We wanted/expected, to all return to work together. But NO. They won't budge on that either.

Note: Rather than prolong the situation, our team has (again) conceded to our Employer's demands.

Our employer wants only 6 staff from Nelson, 2 on the East shore, and 3 in Rossland. We've been trying to reason with our employer while they continue refusing to negotiate, dragging us through the media, keeping us waiting - endlessly, and always demanding, their way or the highway. Delaying progress at every opportunity, as well as deceiving us and the Members repeatedly.

Even today their Press Release is misleading. It says "… the employees are being asked to return to work starting Thursday."

They didn't say "the 6 employees" in Nelson, "the 2 employees" in Crawford Bay, nor "the 3 employees" in Rossland...

Our staff have shown ourselves to be professional, courteous and reasonable even under these most difficult of situations. Of this we can be proud. Yet they continue to build resentment, even now, in the final hours before we return to work.

Instead of trying to close the gaps between us, they're setting a poor atmosphere for us to return to.

NDCU strike officially ends after nearly two months

read the April 15 article by Colin Payne, Nelson Daily News:
The deal has been sealed and Nelson and District Credit Union (NDCU) staff will likely be heading back to work Thursday, after nearly two months on the picket line.

In a special board meeting on Monday night the NDCU board of directors unanimously agreed to approve an agreement with the United Steelworkers Union Local 1-405 that will send the employees it represents back to work.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We are - The United Steel Magnolias

Brenda, her picket sign, and the button it inspired.
This photo was taken purposefully in front of the apparently contradictory NDCU slogan "Logically Locally".

letter to editor that NDN did not publish

The strike at the Nelson District Credit Union has given rise to a number of serious questions.
 • Does the strike have some overriding gender issues? The majority of the individuals walking the picket line are female. Conversely, the management working inside during the strike are mainly male. One wonders how many of the female workers are single mothers whose ability to withstand a lengthy strike are limited? Is the avoidance of the negotiating table a strategy to wear down the employees?
 • Why is the member elected board silent on the issues of the strike? The main spokesperson appears to be the manager who is an employee of the membership. As a member, I would like to hear from the elected Board which has a fiduciary responsibility to the membership.
 • What has happened to the mission statement which in part states:
” Through careful and ethical stewardship of our members’ resources, financial success is shared by members and communities that we so strongly support.
Realizing that change is constant, our ability is to manage, adapt and innovate is critical to achieving these goals”.
Change is constant and, therefore, one wonders why the Board is so hesitant to come to the table to discuss the outstanding issues. Is there resistance to change? How many Board members actually sit at the negotiating table? Who is driving the bus?
 • Research notes that highly successful and productive businesses have exemplary records in maintaining trust and respect for their employees. A good employee/employer relationship displays itself in loyalty and productivity. Leaving employees outside week after week without facilitating a resumption of the negotiating table gives an impression of a lack of trust and respect. What is the outcome that the Board and management hopes to achieve with a lengthy strike?
It is absolutely crucial that the parties come to the table and approach the contract discussions in a serious and mutually beneficial manner.
R.H. Day

It's all about control...

Yet another "last day" on the picket line.
We shouldn't be surprised.
Our Employer STILL feels the need to prove they have full control over us... now it's about the "back to work agreement."

(Remember our 1st day of strike? our employer wanted us to wear "Corporate wear"...ON THE PICKET LINE! They were very unhappy to learn that they cannot tell us what to wear... because we're on strike!)

For their last kick at the employees, they are insisting that only tellers and receptionists will report to work first, then the following day, the rest of the staff are to return to work.

It is important to us, as a group, to return to a group, and they know that.

It's not enough that they forced us into this strike, refused to talk to us for 2 months, dragged us through the media... they are still pushing us around, by determining how/when we come back to work. We could have been back to work on April 9/10.

Certainly not the way a co-operative behaves,
and NOT the way towards healing the damage this
strike has caused.

So, here we are... still waiting.

NDCU staff continue strike as agreement is finalized

read full April 14 report by Colin Payne at Nelson Daily News
The picket signs are still up in front of the Nelson and District Credit Union (NDCU), as employees are waiting for the final details of their contract to be ironed out.

Workers voted by a margin of 60 per cent to accept a contract last week, after talks between United Steelworkers Local 1-405 representatives and NDCU management were called off because a final agreement could not be reached.

Picket lines were expected to be pulled down as early as Thursday after management had signed onto the contract.

But as of Tuesday NDCU staff were still walking the sidewalk in front of the Vernon Street building.

Credit Union staff vote to accept deal

read full April 13 article at Trail Rossland News
On Monday and Tuesday picketers continued to rally in front of the Nelson & District Credit Union, fully thinking they would have been back to work already.

“We voted, they should do the same,” says union representative Katie Kabatoff. “We were expecting to be back to work already, and here we are.”


also at Trail Rossland News NDCU needs long-term fix from strike

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

management continues to dither...

even though we are ALL ready to work!

Monday, April 12, 2010

NDCU keeps Members and staff waiting...

While we're waiting for the CEO to finally get together with his team, ( the Board of Directors), should we hold our collective breath, in the hopes that they will approve their own proposal promptly?

Our members need to attend the AGM on Tues. April 27, 2010 at 7pm at the Nelson Prestige Inn.
Once a year our Membership is able to voice their concerns and ask questions openly... you need to be there!

While we wait, this is a good time to reflect... I wonder how apparent it is, that this strike is the final result of poor communication and complacency towards staff - from our Employer.
There are many examples of our Leaders' lack of communication with staff and/or Members where we should have been advised or (dare I say?) involved with changes being made.
Here's just a couple of examples that pop into my mind.

- Card limits...
the Credit Union reduced the access of all Members's cards
without advising them...
Several months ago, ALL card limits were reduced substantially, without a head's up to Members, or staff. Ie: ATM cash limits were reduced from $500.00 to $300.00 and Direct purchase limits (at the store), reduced from $5,000.00 to $1,500.00
As we (the staff) fielded numerous calls, & complaints, from upset Members (being unable to access their money,) the new ATM system came in and a new onslaught of complaints and calls, blended into it.
If staff had been included in any of the initial stages, perhaps we could've foreseen and/or at least been aware of, the impacts to our Members. We could have smoothed the transitions, instead of being swept away in the wake of problems.

Note: Apparently there was a brief notice on Member's monthly statements, after the fact, but it must have been quite small, 'cause I missed it, as did many other people.
(Think they'll improve communications with the new e-statements...?)

- Patronage payments/dividends (money)
In the past (until the year 2000), Members used to get money back - annually.
It was added to their Shares, (ie: Patronage payment like most other Credit Unions & Co-ops.)
It seems the NDCU made some changes and decided it was better to pool the money and contribute it to selected events/groups/etc. ... great idea and it's been very successful, since its inception in 2000, they've contributed "over $1.5 million back into its communities "... but where's the input from the Members? There was no Member vote on it.
While on the picket line, I've heard many complaints, from members, saying they could use that money themselves, and/or prefer to make donations to groups of their choice and get
the tax receipt for it, etc.

Personally, I think all Members should have a choice as to how their patronage/share money is dispersed :
1) add the money to our shares (so we can donate/save/use, as we choose).
2) allow the NDCU to donate that money...( as they choose).
3) have an option review our choice (annually/periodically).

Anyhow, in an effort to keep this short, I'll stop here.
I hope this gives you food for thought and encourages you to participate in our upcoming AGM.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Biding their time...

Well, here we are, waiting... yet again.

Still showing a lack of regard to the employees and our Membership,
by dragging their feet, and slowing things down as they've been doing for
almost 2 years.

Our Employer knows that we voted Thursday &
are prepared to accept their latest package
(that they offered us Tuesday night.)
They just need to accept & sign it, to get it finalized.

Why then, does the Management Team seem to be totally unaware of this
(on Friday)?
Our members are telling us Mgnt doesn't know what's going on...
Meanwhile, the CEO is continuing to be slow- just to get his own offer signed.

If we are able to keep 52 employees informed (and arrange a vote
between 3 branches in 24 hours) surely our CEO can advise his Mgnt. team,
and arrange to meet his Board of Directors in an equally, timely manner?

Is this just another show of authority, and lack of regard
(at staff & Members' expense?)
Yes, they've saved a lot of money by not paying staff, and I'm just as
sure that they've benefited (or will benefit) themselves "sufficiently" because of it.

By dragging their heels at this time, it only increases the level of distrust.
( At this point, we should be starting to close the wounds created by the strike...
not tearing them further.)

We will still need to make "back to work arrangements" once everything's signed,
and that shouldn't be very difficult either... unless they make it so.

Friday, April 9, 2010

NDCU workers vote to accept contract by slim margin

read the full article by Colin Payne, Nelson Daily News
The strike is not over just yet, however, as Singer said NDCU management have to formally agree to the contract on the table before the picket line will come down.

“If we get that answer tomorrow [Friday], we’ll pull the picket lines down tomorrow [Friday],” he said."

we did our part - just waiting for management to do theirs

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The votes are in...

After a lot of serious consideration and discussions, we prepare to vote on the proposal.

The final votes were cast early this afternoon.
We voted to accept the offer.
Now it needs to get approved by our Employer, but we should be back to work sometime (early) next week.

NDCU employees approve contract...

from Mountain FM







Workers voting on package despite disagreement

read full article by Colin Payne, Nelson Daily News:
NDCU shop steward, Rick Loewen said on Tuesday that he can’t say which way today’s vote might go.

“It’s not a bad deal and it’s not a great deal. It’s somewhere in the middle” Loewen said. “We’ll just have to wait on the membership to see what the outcome of all this is.”

When asked how he and the other staff would about the idea of spending several more weeks on the picket line, Loewen said that will definitely factor into their decision.

“We have to weigh that carefully and understand what the ramifications of ‘no’ vote would be,” he said. “At this point it’s not something we’d relish. This has been longer than we thought it would take.

“But it that’s ultimately where we end up then we would all consider that and know what the consequences of that would be.”

NDCU branches in Rossland and the East Shore voted on the package on Wednesday, but the results are not yet known.

with a little help from our friends

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nelson Star - reporting on yesterday's Negotiations....

After reviewing the revised contract today, I'm sure we all have lots of questions to ask before we vote tomorrow...
I'm surprised to see that the Nelson Star has already reported it...
see the Nelson Star for details.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Week 8 begins...

Today (April 6/10), we started week 8 of the strike at the Nelson & District Credit Union (NDCU).

It was cold, wet & windy most of the day on the picket lines, with a
few rays of sunshine later in the day. Kind of like our moods... up, down,
dreary, hopeful.
(Wonder if it snowed in Rossland?)

We're all pretty anxious today because there's finally some "talking" going on-at the table!
We're trying to be optimistic and hope that they can sort things out in one day, because our Mediator won't be available for 2-3 weeks, after this!

As I write this, I'm waiting for some news... hoping we have something to vote on tomorrow.

Oh yeah, another one of the Management team, is gone (... this one to Mexico),
so the Mgt's Representative is needed at the branch, meaning that the CEO will be at the table today. ( That should save a lot of negotiating time.)

Also their Board of Directors' Representative is away in Scotland, so someone else (from the BOD) is "filling-in," at the meeting today.

Glad to see there's been no impact to their holiday plans during this "Labour Dispute".
I'm gonna sign off on that note...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Weekend....

Easter is a time of hope, faith and rebirth.
We all want to enjoy the optimism and renewing energy of the season, celebrating however we choose, with our families, friends, selves, indoors or out.

Hopefully, this Easter weekend will give most of us some badly needed time-off from the picket line, the stress of being on strike and all that it entails.
I'd love to hear that you took the a little time to do something you enjoy: gardening, hiking, egg-hunting, cleaning, playing, biking, skiing, painting, meditating, etc.
(Please add your comment at the bottom of this page, with your suggestions!)
While many of us "do our thing", there's probably a lot of work being done on- our behalf.
The negotiations on Tuesday (April 6) have been way too long in coming, and will be limited to one day, as our Mediator will not be available for a couple of weeks afterwards.
I know that Doug Singer (our Steelworkers Negotiator) and our negotiating team has been working valiantly to get us to this turning point and I'm trusting that our Employer has been doing the same.
I believe there will be a lot of behind-the-scenes activity this weekend, to get concepts and wording lined-up, so that Tuesday's work will be more about signing than refining.
I think I'm speaking for EVERYONE involved, by saying that we're all hoping to end this strike... SOON.
We've all put forth an amazing amount of energy, time, commitment and teamwork.

It's been such a struggle to get to the Negotiating table, but the bottom line is: we all want the same thing - a Collective Agreement that provides clear and reasonable guidelines for the Union employees and Employer a-like, to follow.
It needs to be a win/win situation. Isn't that what it's all about?
There needs to be give and take - equally, so both sides of the table can feel good about the final agreement.
P.S. Our members, friends, families, and Community have all been so supportive and we're extremely grateful for that. We hope it continues through to include our Annual General Meeting (AGM) April 27-7pm Nelson (Prestige Inn).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Credit union, workers to resume contract talks

read full article at Trail Daily Times
If a deal is reached when negotiations resume on Saturday, workers could vote on the proposal and be back on the job as early as next week, he said.
Among the outstanding issues include wages, benefits and contract language covering part-time work, benefit protection and job security.

The credit union branch in Rossland has been serving members by appointment only since the strike began.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NDCU set to meet union for bargining

read the full article at Trail Rossland News
Doug Singer from the United Steelworkers Union Local 1-405 is hopeful a deal will be struck.

“The media coverage has helped and now that we will both be at the table I hope we can come to a collective agreement,” he said.

“There are a few doors open and I am hopeful, but there is quite a bit of work to do. We are trying to stay positive.”