Re: our editorial, Unions getting ridiculous

I write to clear up several misconceptions around a recent proposal our union tabled during our current round of negotiations with the federal government.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is seeking to expand the definition of family to include spirit friends – or aboriginal elders and community leaders – within the scope of bereavement leave in our collective agreement.

This proposal, among many others, was brought forward in a democratic fashion that is basis for all proposals. PSAC members come from all communities across Canada, including members from First Nations. We celebrate our diversity and encourage all members to be part of the collective bargaining process by making proposals to improve working conditions.

A spirit friend, or aboriginal elder, is someone within the aboriginal community whom people turn to for guidance in times of personal turmoil.

Over the life of the relationship, the elder and the person who sought them out for guidance become very close – the elder is seen as a member of the family, just like one’s brother, sister, aunt, or uncle – all of whom are covered by bereavement leave provisions in our collective agreements.

To imply that the union would demand “10 days off with pay for the death of an imaginary spirit friend” is insulting and ridiculous. It demonstrates a lack of research and inquiry into the meaning of the proposal, and a lack of effort in seeking clarity before writing on the topic.

With regard to your statement PSAC members “could conceivably get 165 days off a year with full pay,” I suggest you re-read the Canadian Taxpayers Federation news release that you took this statement from. It clearly states this number includes weekends – most people would not consider Saturday and Sunday paid days off.

In the spirit of free collective bargaining, we are calling on the government to take seriously all our proposals instead of trying to target sick leave and other provisions to ensure a healthy and productive federal public service.

Canadians have come to rely on the many critical services our members proudly provide today and into the future.

Bob Jackson,

regional executive vice-president,

Public Service Alliance of Canada, B.C. region

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