The Transition committee resumed meetings with RTA in October of this year. Prior to entering into 2012 Negotiations the Union had raised concerns with the way the committee has been frustrated by the ongoing lack of information being provided to us by RTA. Key to the Union’s concerns was the lack of specific information being provided by RTA to enable us to move forward and understand the plans for the new technology. The Union had been requesting information on job content, physical demands, numbers of positions, timelines for the transition and more dating back to the time this committee was agreed to. The reason we required this information from the start was to enable us to begin developing a process for manpower movement and to get a full understanding of what that would entail.
The original Transition Letter of Agreement was agreed to back in 2007. At the time of this agreement the parties were basically trying to predict the future in terms of what would happen and what would be needed. As you know there have been several different delays since then resulting in the original project being re-engineered on more than one occasion. Given the changes to the original plans as understood by the Union our existing CLA Transition language may not reflect the best options for today’s transition. The Union has involved our lawyer(s) in an attempt to work through the language and determine what is legal, fair to our members and workable when we look at transition to the new technology today. There are many considerations which will affect our membership in different ways. Some examples are things like how and when seniority will apply, accommodation for workers with permanent restrictions, timing of when things will happen, training provisions, surplus workers and more.
Our Transition committee consists of three appointed members; they are Cliff Madsen, Mike Szmata and Jose DaSilva. The committee has been meeting weekly with RTA raising issues and discussing concepts for manpower movement. The committee has continued to request the written information mentioned above but to date have yet to receive it from RTA. We have been given different videos showing aspects of the jobs and also the breakdown of planned manpower levels by Seniority Group (A, B, C and T). This information gives us basic numbers of people in the different jobs but doesn’t speak to many of the details we require such as shift rotation, physical demand and job content. This information is critical to the process and without it we aren’t in a position to look at movement models in a productive way.
The most recent change of plans was brought on by RTA’s announcement to cut $250 million dollars from next year’s construction budget. This announcement has resulted in the need for RTA to once again adjust their time-lines which has an obvious affect on our Transition. At the end of the day, nothing in the foregoing should limit RTA’s ability to produce the written information we’ve requested. This project was given “notice to proceed” back in December of 2011. At that time the Board of Directors approved a project based on all the information available to them. Key to that decision was information on jobs, numbers of employees, design and so on. The workplace information was largely based on existing smelter designs that already have all that information in place. We are starting to question the company’s commitment to this process when a year later we’re still asking for the same information.
Transition from the old technology to the new will mean change for everyone and the Union recognizes the need for us to be respectful of our member’s rights as we move forward. The Union Executive is formally updated on the committee’s work at each monthly Executive meeting. We have, and will continue to involve our lawyers to ensure the legalities are followed and we intend to involve as many of our people in the process which makes the most sense to do. We ask that you be patient as we work through the Transition and either speak with one of our committee members or contact the Union Hall if you have questions.