Dear Local 78B Members,
It’s been almost a week since Education Minister Zach Churchill announced that the province will break its contract with your Employer, Stock Transportation, in June 2020 and that a Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued sometime in July of this year to find new providers.
While there is not a lot of new information for me to share with you today, following my meeting with your local executive last night, I wanted to send along an update.
As I said last week, I have sent a letter to Minister Churchill requesting a meeting as soon as possible to discuss what will happen to your collective agreement in the event a new operator or operators take over. You can see the letter here. I have spoken to the Minister of Labour Relations, Minister Mark Furey, and will be meeting next week to discuss this issue. I have met with Stock’s Atlantic Canada Director, Patrick Meagher, and Stock’s Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Mark Hannah. As well, I will be meeting with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education next week.
Everyone I have met with so far has received the same message: our members do an excellent job ensuring students get to school safely, and have been left hanging and are caught in the middle of a contentious relationship between government and a private employer. The most important thing is that you – the frontline workers delivering this important service – do not lose what has been negotiated up until now. Your collective agreement must follow you to whoever may take over the contract (this is known as successor rights). The other point I make is that you all are the workforce, regardless of who the service provider is. You have all fought long and hard to get your collective agreement to where it is today, and you don’t want to go backwards or have to start from square one. The only fair thing for the government to do is to make the acceptance of your collective agreement a provision of the RFP going out in July.
I also want to tell you I think you should be very proud of how you have conducted yourself over this past year. This was a very difficult time, and some of the public commentary and media coverage of the issues you have faced has been frustrating and demoralizing. However, instead of giving up, you all worked through the adversity and brought the on-time performance up from 93% to 99.8%. The government’s decision is not reflective of you or the work you have done, it’s about them wanting to change provisions in the contract with your employer. Continue to stay focused on serving the students and families who entrust you with their most valuable asset. You are doing great work!
I commit to all of you that the NSGEU will stand with you and we will bring forward whatever resources are needed to ensure your collective agreement follows you.
I will work closely with your local executive and keep you all up to date on what is happening as this situation unfolds.