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(en) Canada, Toronto, Locked out canvass workers respond to Greenpeace Director peter tabuns

From Mick <mickblack47@yahoo.com>
Date Wed, 27 Nov 2002 07:01:25 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

PT: What Peter Tabuns says.
343: How the union responds.

PT: Dear Folks, Tooker has circulated one side of the story at Greenpeace,
I want to give you the other side. 

343: Peter Tabuns responds to Tooker Gomberg regarding the door canvass
union, but ironically he has never responded to the door canvass union
itself. This represents a consistent pattern in which Mr. Tabuns has
failed to respond to our concerns, in spite of our repeated requests.

PT: Greenpeace has made some changes in the fundraising program in

343: These "changes" were made in the middle of a Collective Bargaining
Agreement which management signed October, 2002, and which doesn?t expire
until December, 2003.

All the unionised staff who were affected by this change were offered
similar jobs in the phone canvass program, which is covered under the same
collective agreement. No one has been locked out. 

Although the door canvass was offered jobs in the phone canvass, this was
only done after management tried unsuccessfully to change the terms of our
door canvass contract. When this attempt failed, they shut us down and
transferred us to the phone. Therefore this is effectively a lockout by
Greenpeace management.

Mr. Tabuns says the jobs offered were "similar jobs", but he neglects to
mention that for some canvassers the number of hours worked per day would
be reduced from 9 hours to 5 ½, for the others from 7 to 5 ½. Although the
base hourly rate of pay is comparable, the overall earning potential is
significantly lower. 

In addition, there are at least 2 canvassers who are unable to perform the
phone work because of their pronounced accents. They were successful
face-to-face, but are unable to do the same on the phone. Management has
not offered these workers any other jobs.

Furthermore, management indicated on several occasions that there would
only be enough phone work for additional phone canvassers until about

The real issue, however, is that we have a Collective Bargaining Agreement
for our own door canvass jobs, not some other jobs. We have met and
exceeded all of the standards in our contract. This transfer to other jobs
is an attempt by management to get out of our contract after they failed
to change the performance standards.

PT: The specific change is a shift away from a door canvass to an expanded
phone canvass program. Staff in both programs are covered under the same
collective agreement, and base wage rates in the phone canvass program are
slightly higher.

343: Mr.Tabuns says "the specific change is a shift away from a door
canvass", why did this "shift" only occur after management was
unsuccessful in changing the terms of our contract?

If there was a "shift away from a door canvass", why was every door
canvasser given a $750 signing bonus to sign this contract less than a
year ago?

If there was a "shift away from a door canvass", why does the
non-unionized Montreal canvass remain open, and why does Greenpeace use
the non-unionized Caring Together agency to door canvass in other cities?

The only reason the shift has occured is to get out of this union

PT: All the rights of the collective agreement have been honoured, and
Greenpeace went a step further by creating new positions to avoid
involuntary layoffs among unionised staff in the door OR the phone canvass
programs. (One management position is eliminated.) 

343: The phone/door union in the past few weeks have filed over fifteen
grievances with management. Some of these grievances include:

a. Management has failed to provide a hard copy of the Collective
Bargaining Agreement to the union despite repeated requests; 

b. Management has accepted donations from the agency "Caring Together"
which were solicited in Toronto contrary to the Collective Bargaining
Agreement. Without explanation, management rejected this grievance; 

c. We were pressured, illegally, by management to accept the phone canvass
jobs within 7 days of our closure notice, the Collective Bargaining
Agreement stipulates that we must have 45 days to decide. This caused
great stress for our members. 

PT: When anyone gives money to an organisation like Greenpeace they expect
the money to be used to protect the environment while treating workers
well. The phone canvass at Greenpeace has much lower administrative costs
than the door canvass, so more of every dollar that is donated can go to
protecting the environment. Unionised staff were all - absolutely without
exception -- offered similar unionised jobs within Greenpeace, in the same
union. This simply is not a lock out. People were given notice of layoff
in accordance with the collective agreement, they were offered comparable

343: The phone canvass is also an effective part of our union. The door
canvass provides the phone canvass with most of its leads so that it can
fundraise. The door canvass is also an outreach program which the phone
canvass is not.

The door canvass is also profitable for Greenpeace, but management refuses
to show us the financial statements. This is another of our grievances,
which was denied by Greenpeace - they still haven?t shown us the numbers.

Several have chosen to take those jobs, some have found other work since
being told of this change, others are still looking. 

Mr.Tabuns should know that many of our canvassers have not found other
work, and many have not had a cheque since October 15, 2002.

PT: Obviously, not everyone is happy with the change, and that is probably
human nature. Some people enjoyed the outdoor work of door canvassing
versus the indoor work of phone canvassing, some may have had other
reasons. But the fact is the phone canvass allows much more of donors'
money to go to protecting the environment (in a similar unionised wage

343: Mr.Tabuns says some of us are unhappy because we enjoy the outdoor
work versus the indoor work, or perhaps other reasons. How would Mr.Tabuns
know our reasons if he will not meet with us? The real issue is not
whether we work indoors or outdoors, or "some other reason". It is not the
job or the money. It is a justice issue. We have a contract that we signed
in good faith that has been broken by management.

PT: Greenpeace is the only national environmental group that has unionised
staff. The current contract for the canvass staff was agreed about a year
ago and has another year to run. There is every expectation that when it
expires, another contract will be agreed as normally happens. The office
staff in Toronto has been unionised since the early '90's and there has
never been a strike or a lockout. 

343: We are proud that we have a union at Greenpeace. We started our union
to protect Greenpeace workers from abuse by management. In our door
canvass we had not had a raise in base daily pay for 10 years. We had to
vote to go on strike several years ago to get a modest pay raise. In spite
of this progress as a union, we are now being shut down - the very people
who started this union in the first place. 

Greenpeace has had a questionable relationship with labour and unions over
the years, and now the Canadian Labour Congress has "uninvited" Jo Dufay
(Greenpeace Head Campaigner) from speaking to them at their convention. As
well, the Toronto Labour Council has rejected Mr.Tabuns?s attempt to
dissuade us from public protest.

PT: We engage in campaigns to protect the environment and prevent nuclear
war. Those campaigns are why we need to make the best use of donors money.

This is tough for all of us here, we have worked with the people doing
door canvass for many years and wish it had worked out differently. 

343: The Greenpeace door canvass has been the heart of greenpeace direct
actions for 14 years. Many of us have been arrested for participating in
Greenpeace actions. One of our members, who is still facing charges for
participating in a Greenpeace lock down, is now protesting in front of the
building for being locked out by his own boss.

PT: So, that?s our side of the story. You will make up your own mind about
which position makes the most sense. However, please bear in mind that the
original message you received didn't give you the full picture here. 
Sincerely, Peter Tabuns, Executive Director 

343: Our canvass staff are spending countless hours in protest over this
issue unpaid. Greenpeace management and their lawyer are spending
countless hours on this issue, paid for by Greenpeace donations.

Please contact Peter Tabuns and Development Director, Rebecca Moershel to
let them know you think their actions are wrong and will suspend your
support for Greenpeace until their labour policies have clearly been

Peter Tabuns ext. 3012, Rebecca Moershel ext. 3014, both at 
peter.tabuns@yto.greenpeace.org, rebecca.moershel@yto.greenpeace.org 

For more information, or for responses to anything else Peter Tabuns has
to say, e-mail us at: opeiu_343@yahoo.com 

Contact Gary Connolly, Union Steward 416-429-7658 
or Patty Clancy 416-703-4448 ext. 29 

Greenpeace Door Canvass Union 

Note: For a better formated version of this response go to:

For background information go to http://ontario.indymedia.org

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