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A Guide for Part-timers at The Canadian Press

So you’re a part-time employee at The Canadian Press! Congratulations! You’re working with some very talented, hard-working people. But you still probably have a few questions. Here are answers to some questions we hear a lot:

If I work part time at The Canadian Press, am I unionized? Am I a part of the same union as my full-time colleagues?

Yes! You are a part of the Canadian Media Guild, which represents full-time, part-time and temporary employees at The Canadian Press. The Canadian Press first certified in 1949. The Guild also represents employees at Thompson-Reuters, TVOntario, CBC, and at several private broadcasters, for a total of nearly 6,000 members. While you still benefit from the salary, leave, and other provisions of the Collective Agreement, you don’t become a full member of the Guild until you sign a union card. This gives you the right to vote in elections and run for office. It also helps us know a little more about who you are so we can get in touch with you if we need to. You sign a union card by contacting one of your local Guild representatives. If you don’t know who that is, you can find out here: http://www.cmg.ca/en/contact/branch-leadership/cp/

As a part-time employee, how does my pay compare to a full-time employee? Do I get wage increases? How about overtime?

Your hourly rate is governed by the same salary scales as your full-time colleagues. Just like them, you get two kinds of wage increases. The first kind is a negotiated wage increase that raises everyone’s rates at the same time by a percentage determined through collective bargaining.  For example in 2009, there are negotiated wage increases on January 1st and July 1st. You are also eligible for wage increases based on experience.  After every 1750 hours you work in a salary level, you go up to the next step. You also get overtime payments on hours worked beyond the end of your shift, at time-and-a-half. You are also entitled to premiums for inconvenient shifts: a premium if you work between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., and additional premiums for overnight shifts or work on weekends.

How do I know how many hours I’ve worked, so I know when I’ll get a raise?

In general, if you haven’t already reached the highest salary level in your classification, management will tell you, by February 1st of each year, how many hours you’ve worked since your last salary upgrade. If your records are different than theirs, make sure you ask for a meeting to review the documentation. In order to make sure you get raises when you’re supposed to, it’s critical that you keep records of your hours and your pay stubs. Sometimes there are mistakes, and they can only be fixed with documentation. Remember that your job is more important to you than it is to anyone else, and keeping good records is the best—and sometimes only—way to fix any problems that might arise. It’s also a good idea to take notes on conversations affecting your employment status, or to confirm by email after the fact.

Am I eligible for benefits?

You are, if you regularly work 20 hours a week or more. If so, you are eligible for medical coverage, life insurance and the dental plan. The employer pays a pro-rated portion of the premium and you pay the rest. If not, as a CMG member you are eligible to enroll in group health and dental benefits through the Writers Coalition. Click here for details.

Do I get to take vacation?

Yes.  You earn vacation pay at the rate of four per cent of your earnings; this equals two weeks.  That four per cent is paid out in a lump sum each January. 

Once you have worked 1,750 hours, vacation pay increases to six per cent of your earnings.  That equals three weeks of vacation. 

If you wish to take time off, you should talk to your supervisor about arranging an appropriate time in advance so schedules can be adjusted.  And remember, you won’t receive a pay cheque for the period you’re not at work unless you request payment for the vacation pay that has accumulated since the last January payout.   

Can The Canadian Press just let me go for no reason?

That depends on how long you’ve been working. If you have worked less than 500 hours total, you can be let go for any reason. That being said, discrimination of any kind is not acceptable.

After you’ve worked 500 hours, you can only be let go for just cause, or in the event of economic layoffs.  This is another important reason to keep track of your hours.

What are my rights in the event of a layoff? Do I have seniority?

If you’ve worked more than 500 hours, you have seniority based on the hours you’ve worked.  In general, if there is a layoff of part timers in your classification at your location, the part-timer with the least seniority should be let go.  If you are let go, you will be placed on a recall list, and if any part-time positions become available, it will be offered to people on the part-time recall list in order of seniority.  Part-time employees with seniority who are laid off are entitled to severance pay; 35 hours’ basic salary for every 875 hours you have worked to a maximum of 1,820 hours.  Remember, even if you haven’t yet worked  500 hours, you may be eligible for EI.

What if I want a full time job?

You should apply for one, of course. And you’re guaranteed an interview unless you’ve already had one in the past six months. If you’re hired, up to two months can be taken off your probationary period (normally 3 months).

What happens if my colleague takes a day off when I’m not working? What rights do I have to this work?

The Canadian Press will frequently offer available work to part-time employees, but they are not obliged to do so. Conversely, if you are approached to work a shift, and you don’t want to take it or you have another obligation, you can turn it down without any repercussions.

What if I get sick and can’t work my shift? Will I be paid?

You are eligible to receive up to one week of your basic salary for each week of continuous service to a maximum of 15 weeks paid sick leave.  This sick leave is pro-rated to your part-time schedule.  That means if you regularly work 2 days/week then your “basic weekly salary” is two days pay. 

Where do I go if I need more information?

You’ve got a couple of options. The current Memorandum of Agreement is available online here: http://www.cmg.ca/en/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/ENG_BEST-2015MO-VERSION-1700_001.pdf

You can also talk to a local Guild rep who can give you a copy of the collective agreement as soon as it is available. 

You can find the people in your location here:
http://www.cmg.ca/en/contact/branch-leadership/cp/

And finally, you can always contact the Guild National office at 1-800-465-4149 or 416-591-5333.

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