Saturday, September 4, 2010

Credit Union headed to arbitration

Nelson Star Updated: September 03, 2010 12:39 PM
More than four months after the strike at the Nelson and District Credit Union ended, an arbitration hearing has been scheduled over the proposed elimination of three positions.

“We’re extremely disappointed with this employer,” says Doug Singer, financial secretary of United Steelworkers Local 1-405. “We hoped after the strike we could work on improving our relationship.”

Instead, Singer says following the signing of the new collective agreement, they were notified the positions would be lost.

“They hadn’t indicated in any way previously that it was going to happen, so we filed some grievances.”

He says the positions include one in accounting, one in financial services at the East Shore branch, and one in operations dealing with point-of-sale machines.

The latter is “a contracting out issue, contrary to what we felt the employer indicated during bargaining... We asked if any restructuring was taking place, and understood there wasn’t. We made a lot of decisions based on that, and then found out after the fact they were looking at doing the exact opposite.”

Singer says it “goes to the issues of credibility, relationship, and trust. It’s contrary to the best interest of the credit union, employees, members, and community at large.”

Credit union general manager Doug Stoddart wasn’t willing to talk about the arbitration process or specifics of the changes, but said staffing is “dictated by member demand for products and services. The more members we have, the more products and services we have, the more staff we need.”

Stoddart says the changes haven’t yet taken effect, but are expected to soon.

“As per the collective agreement, we had to provide notice to the union, and there’s a period of time we have to discuss it with them. We’ve been going through that process all summer.”

He says they’re required to introduce chip technology in member cards to process transactions and prevent fraud.

“All our merchant terminals have to be brought up to speed to handle it,” he says. “It’s not something the credit union can do. The technology is beyond us.”

Meanwhile, they “see an opportunity to expand support to the business community, especially during these difficult economic times... It’s disappointing the Steelworkers don’t talk about the opportunities we’re creating. They just want to talk about changes that impact positions.”

The Steelworkers want to meet again with credit union management before the matter heads to arbitration, but Singer doesn’t hold out much hope for a resolution.

The hearing has been scheduled for November 8, 9, and 10 in Nelson. Lawyers for both sides will come from Vancouver to argue the case, and then the arbitrator is expected to take a few months to issue a decision.

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