Members that I have spoken to do not understand that we need others to join in order to just apply for certification. They were of the belief that it was a given to just create an association and get rolling. Members need to know that without the minimum # of eligible members registered (which appliws to either perspective association option of your choice) we can’t even apply to become the bargaining agent, let alone bargain.
The effectiveness of any union is dependent on the solidarity of the membership. In the case of the RCMP, one of the obstacles to effective bargaining will be the failure by the membership to act in the best interests of those who are negotiating our contracts, a failure to provide them with the “united front” required to demonstrate serious resolve. I’m sure there are a lot of examples that could be highlighted, but I would like to discuss one that I came face to face with last week. There were meetings being held recently at RCMP HQ to discuss the Reserve program with a view to expanding the Reserve from the current “hard ceiling” (approx. 400 members – exact number not known) to either an unlimited number or, at the very least, a greatly increased number. Everybody knows that the RCMP is running an extensive vacancy pattern, we see it in our own units, detachments and Divisions. We have all heard of the difficulties the RCMP is having recruiting new members and the “accommodations” that have been made in an attempt to boost the number of candidates who meet the diminishing list of entry requirements. We all know someone who is moving on, leaving the RCMP to serve in another police service, or maybe leaving the Force shortly prior to their 20 year anniversary in order to take advantage of the cash payout of pension contributions. In the face of numerous vacancies, heavy workloads and insufficient relief anywhere on the horizon, perhaps an expanded Reserve seems an attractive option. The problem with turning to the Reserve as a “temporary” solution is that it relieves exactly the type of pressure that should be brought to bear in the very first round of contract negotiations. It would be to the advantage of those conducting our very first round of collective bargaining if the working conditions of the men and women of the Force were recognizable by ALL parties to be as difficult as we have all known them to be over the last few years. I’m not against the Reservists, and with almost 30 years in, I’ll soon be considering whether to throw my own name in the hat for some post-retirement “double-dipping”, but the fact is that every RM position that is filled “temporarily” by a Reservist serves to relieve the pressure on government to improve the working conditions of the RCMP’s rank and file. If government paid us a competitive salary, if staffing levels had not been permitted to fall to their current state, if there were still sufficient incentives for those who agreed to police remote and desolate communities, we wouldn’t be having as much difficulty as we are attracting numerous, high-calibre candidates. By paying an increased number of Reservists less money in order to relieve the acute manpower shortages in understaffed and / or undesirable locations, we are offering to government relief from our most compelling arguments for the fair compensation and improved working conditions that the membership is desperate for. Here we are, at the 11th hour, negotiations will likely begin before the end of the year, so let’s not cut our own throats. Let’s not trade short term gain for long term pain, let our soon to be bargaining agent know where you stand in relation to an expanded Reserve because, in a strange twist, they will be bargaining for both the Regular Members and the Reserve in spite of what looks to me like conflicting interests.
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