February 8, 2012
Message from the National President to all members working for the RCMP
While USGE has always been cooperative with its fellow bargaining agents, professional associations and all types of organized labour I am completely fed up with constant attacks and degrading comments made by RCMP Staff Relations Representatives against Public Service Employees working with the RCMP.
These attacks, using the employer's electronic equipment and distributed to every desk within the organization, have done nothing but create a toxic work environment for Public Service Employees and, no doubt, for the civilian members the SRR Program purportedly represent. I want our members to know that I will be implementing my own plan of action to respond to these continued attacks. That said, there are a few points contained in the recent blast against our members that require clarification.
SRRs would have you believe that "…the RCMP is unique, and it is our membership both Regular and Civilian that makes it so." Contrary to this self-centered opinion, the RCMP is no more unique in the public service than any other department or organization. Each and every department has a core group of employees who are hired to carry out government mandates — Correctional Service Canada has peace and correctional officers; Canada Border Service Agency has border guards; Canada Food Inspection Agency has food inspectors and the list goes on and on. Then there are thousands and thousands of other employees who support the core mandate within each and every department. Let's make no mistake though, ALL are public servants — including regular and civilian members of the RCMP. Each and every employee working for the RCMP, no matter the category, contribute to the safety, security and well-being of the Canadian public.
Then there is the issue of the representation that the SRRs would like you to believe they provide to civilian members. One only has to look at current events to know this not true. The SRRs will tell you themselves that they do not have the power to collectively bargain on behalf of their membership. It is through unions like ours that regular and civilian members received salary increases, leave provisions, equal pay for work of equal value, work force adjustment provisions and that list goes on and on. It is through unions like ours that civilian members get pay raises — not because the SRRs bargained on their behalf.
And then there is the Categories of Employees project that led to this most recent attack on our members. Civilian members are classified using public service classification standards. Their rates of pay are determined through negotiations between their counterpart unions and the government. The only difference is they don't have to pay for it. They get their salary and benefits on the backs of some of the lowest paid employees in the public service and the SRRs congratulate themselves for doing a good job getting it for them. It makes me wonder if this is what makes them believe they are unique! One thing is certain though — if civilian members are classified using public service classification standards, they should be public service employees. It's that simple.
The recent SRR communiqué, in my opinion, slams the integrity and professionalism of those same civilian members who they purport to represent. Statements such as "potential impacts on operations" and "undertaking a bureaucratic exercise that could potentially have grave consequences on our ability to accomplish our jobs and effectively serve the Canadian public" leads the reader to believe that if converted to public service status, these civilian members would not carry out their duties in a professional manner, would jeopardize police operations and not effectively serve the Canadian public. I don't believe this for a minute.
The RCMP, like all other federal government departments, is embarking on the Deficit Action Reduction Plan, looking for ways to streamline costs. Yet, the RCMP spends millions of dollars each year in administrative costs associated with managing three categories of employees. No federal government department — and no police force around the world — bears a similar burden.
Instead of the RCMP cutting public service staff and programs, we encourage the organization to minimize the excessive costs associated with administering three categories of employees and eliminate the $25+ million dollars associated with funding the SRR Program. If the SRR Program and the regular and civilian members that are regulated by it want the salary, benefits and protections that unions negotiate for its members, then maybe it is time they act like unions and pay for their own program. The Canadian taxpayer should not be asked — nor obliged — to shoulder this excessive financial burden.
As your National President, I will do everything in my power to ensure that public service employees working for the RCMP receive the dignity and respect they so rightfully deserve. Whatever that takes, I will do it.