Credit: Creative Commons/Flickr User Gerard Donnelly
       The Amundsen, a Coast Guard icebreaker and research vessel docked in Quebec City, is one of the many far-flung workplaces for the variety of 1,000-plus electronic technologists covered covered by the new agreement with the Canadian government.

With the federal election on the horizon, Ottawa, Ontario, Local 2228 reached tentative agreement with the Treasury Board for a new four-year contract that will guarantee an 8% increase in salary for the more than 1,000 members covered.

Those members it includes are electronic technologists working for the federal government. They are scattered across 18 different departments, including the Department of Defence, Coast Guard and Transport Canada. Local 2228 members have until July 22 at 12 p.m. to return their ballots for ratification.

The agreement also included more parental, maternity and caregiver leave for members and sets up a leave system for members dealing with domestic violence.  Business Manager Paul Cameron said he was especially pleased to get a contract within a year of the expiration of the previous agreement, providing members with more certainty to prepare for the future.

“We went in with what we thought were fair and clear-cut proposals,” Cameron said. “We did not want to be complex. We knew there would be some movement because of the upcoming federal election.”

The parliamentary session ended in June, and federal elections will be held in October. IBEW leaders are urging members to support worker-friendly candidates, including from the ruling Liberal Party, which has welcomed an open dialogue with the IBEW and other Canadian labour unions.

The Conservative Party was hostile to labour in the nearly 10 years in which it either held power or formed a majority government before the Liberals took power in 2015.  

Cameron said that change showed in negotiations. It was easier to reach a deal with the Liberals in power instead of the old Conservative government. There was more flexibility and openness to Local 2228’s proposals and none of the take-it-or-leave-it attitude shown in prior discussions.

“Typically, during the last 10-20 years, negotiations to the time of ratification would take two years,” Cameron said. “When the Conservatives were in power, there was a real sense of, ‘You better take this deal or we’re going to legislate it on you.’ It was not friendly. With the Liberals in power, there was more of a sense of working with us.

“It’s a gain to what we had in the last round. Is it everything we wanted? No. But we thought it was a fair deal that reflects the value and work of our members.”

The federal election is expected to be extremely close. In late June, CBC’s Poll Tracker gave the Conservatives a 35% chance of forming a majority government and the Liberals a 29% chance.

“Paul and the local’s negotiating team showed extraordinary leadership in getting a fair deal done for their members, many of whom do important work seldom seen by the general public,” First District Government Relations Director Matt Wayland said.

“But as he noted, having a government in power that respects the collective bargaining process and the value of civil servants made negotiations much more productive. It’s another reason to support worker-friendly candidates and not turn our backs on the gains we’ve made in the last four years.”

The agreement with the IBEW was part of five new contracts the Treasury Board reached with public-sector unions, covering about 30,000 workers.

“This is another illustration of the respect our government has consistently demonstrated for Canada’s public servants,” Treasury Board President Joyce Murray said. “We remain committed to our good faith approach to collective bargaining and hope to continue to reach agreements that are good for public servants and fair for Canadian taxpayers.”