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Member-to-Member Conflicts

Adopted in principle by the NEC on September 17, 1997
Referred to the Local Presidents’ Council for discussion and feedback
Policy formally adopted by the NEC on October 6, 1997

PART 1 Member-to-Member Conflict
(sexual harassment)

Declaration of Intent

This policy statement addresses one of the most difficult situations a union can find itself in. The Guild has a statutory obligation under the Canada Labour Code to represent members who have been disciplined by employers. The Guild also has a moral obligation to protect members who are victims of harassment. When one member complains of being harassed sexually (or in other ways) by another member the Guild has obligations to protect the legitimate interests of both parties while the complaint is being investigated and beyond.

This policy statement outlines how the Guild will endeavour to meet its various obligations to members who are in conflict with each other without compromising the rights of either (or any) member.

The Guild’s starting point is an absolute zero tolerance for sexual harassment.

Definition of Sexual Harassment:

Harassment stems from inequality, discrimination – both systemic and individual – and intolerance in our society.

Harassment may be verbal, physical or psychological. It is unwelcome and unsolicited. It may be one incident or a series of incidents. It is coercive. It undermines an employee’s health, or job performance; or endangers the employee’s status at work, or employment potential.

Harassment consists of ANY vexacious comment or conduct that is known, or should reasonably be known, to be unwelcome.

Harassment includes, but is not limited to:

* unwelcome remarks, jokes, innuendos or taunts about a person’s body, clothing, sex, sexuality, racial background, disability, age;
* insulting gestures and practical jokes: for example, of a sexist, racist or homophobic nature;
* displaying of pornographic, racist pictures, graffiti or material;
* refusing to talk to, or work co-operatively with a person because of her or his sex, race, colour, sexuality, age;
* unnecessary physical contact, such as patting, touching, pinching;
* sexual overtures;
* sexual assault;
* physical assault.

All Guild members have the right to work in an environment free of sexual harassment.

General Provisions:

1. When a member contacts the Guild with a complaint of sexual harassment against another member, the Guild will immediately assign a union staff representative to represent the interests of the complainant under the collective agreement and to provide the appropriate support. The Guild will also assign a staff member for the other side. The assigned staff representatives will handle the complaint with complete confidentiality and will not communicate about the complaint with any other party without the express consent of either side.

2. A member who is accused of sexually harassing another member has the right to the presumption of innocence while the complaint is being investigated under the provisions of the Guild’s collective agreements and retains the rights granted to all members under the union’s collective agreements. The Union will not act to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused. Such a determination will be made according to the provisions of our collective agreements and/or according to the applicable laws of the jurisdiction.

3. All complaints shall be immediately referred to the Guild’s vice-president for Equity Issues who will be charged with ensuring that staff representatives are providing appropriate assistance to the members involved.

4. The Guild will provide support to the complainant in all interactions with the employer and will take whatever steps it can to compel the employer to deal expeditiously with the member’s complaint and to enforce the right of the complainant to work in an environment free of sexual (or other forms of) harassment. The Guild will pressure the employer to act quickly and effectively within the terms of the applicable corporate policies and provisions of the collective agreement.

5. Staff representatives assigned by the Guild to each party in the dispute will collect whatever information is necessary to provide appropriate assistance to and protect the interests of each of the respective parties.

6. The Guild will provide all parties with a copy of this policy statement to ensure that all parties understand the adversarial nature of a grievance procedure and an arbitration hearing in the event that there is no resolution.

During arbitration the lawyers for both the employer and the union may challenge a witness. Since sexual harassment cases often amount to one person’s word against another’s, witnesses may expect lawyers to challenge their versions of events and even their credibility.

Members -including those who may be called as witnesses- inquiring about a specific case will be told that no details regarding the case can be shared as this information must be kept strictly confidential and will only be available through the arbitration process.

7. The Guild recognises that a person whose complaint about sexual harassment leads to arbitration will be placed in an emotionally painful and difficult situation. That member may seek third party standing at the arbitration. The Guild may oppose such an application if it conflicts with the Guild’s legal obligation to represent the other party.

8. Where sexual harassment is a significant component in an arbitration hearing and where it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the National Executive Committee that the interests of either the complainant or the grievor are significantly different from both the employer and the union, the Guild will consider providing legal assistance to either party. Provision for such legal counsel will be of a limited nature and the final decision to provide it will be made by the National Executive Committee.

9. Once the hearing begins the appropriate action available to the staff representative may be diminished considerably. At the very least the representative will continue to provide advice where appropriate as well as emotional support.

10. The Guild will continue to press the employer to have complaints of sexual harassment heard through processes mandated by collective agreement and relevant corporate policies such as the CBC Human Resources policy number 1.1, the CP-BN policy on sexual harassment and others.

Final Considerations:

Should any matter in this internal policy or its application be in conflict with an existing collective agreement it is understood that the collective agreement will be the final authority. This document does not constitute a modification to any existing collective agreement of the Canadian Media Guild. As our collective agreements prescribe certain time limits for filing a grievance and/or attempting any other conflict resolution step or method, the application of this internal policy must not jeopardise the strict observance of these time limits.

PART 2 Member-to-Member Conflict
(no sexual harassment)

In situations where the Guild determines there is a member-to-member conflict, but where sexual harassment is not a component, in addition to determining its duties in the normal manner the Guild will take the following steps:

1. Notify a designated elected officer of the National Executive Committee at the earliest opportunity.

2. Assign a staff member to each of the two sides in the dispute. The information collected by each representative will remain confidential.

3. Investigate the case to determine what violations of the collective agreement occurred. Staff members or elected officers involved in collecting information must ensure that they retain the ability to represent the interests of either one party or the other in the dispute without compromise but within the limits of representation as outlined in our collective agreements and under the applicable labour laws.

4. Resources of the Guild including legal services will be assigned equally to members in conflict provided the union’s duty to represent them under the Canada Labour Code has been equally triggered. The assignment of legal resources will stay under the control of the Guild and prior consent from the National Executive Committee must be obtained before retaining legal services. If an outside lawyer is retained the choice must receive prior approval by the National Executive Committee. The Guild must be allowed to monitor an outside lawyers fees.

5. In any member-to-member conflict where one member is affected but not to the point of triggering the Guild’s duty to represent under the Canada Labour Code, the Guild will advise the member that he or she will come under the care of the employer. The Guild will explain the adversarial nature of arbitration and will educate its members about its duties to witnesses by providing all sides with a copy of this policy.

At this point the Guild must avoid any communication about the case with any members who are likely to be called as witnesses by the employer, so as to avoid a conflict of interests.

It is understood however that any member who is involved who needs help on a separate matter will be fully entitled to have his or her separate matter considered by the Guild.

6. The Guild will continue to press the employer to have complaints of sexual, racial, ethnic, or personal harassment heard through processes mandated by the collective agreement.

Final Considerations:

Should any matter in this internal policy or its application be in conflict with an existing collective agreement, it is understood that the collective agreement will be the final authority. This document does not constitute a modification to any existing collective agreement of the Canadian Media Guild. As our collective agreements prescribe certain time limits for filing a grievance and or attempting any other conflict resolution step or method, the application of this internal policy must not jeopardise the strict observance of these time limits.

Conclusion:

If you believe you are being harassed, act immediately. If possible, make it clear that you do not welcome such behaviour. You can do this either on your own, verbally or in writing, or with the assistance of another party such as a co-worker, a colleague or local Guild representative. Indicate that you will take further action if the behaviour continues.

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