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Member-to-Member Conflicts

Approved by the NEC September 8, 2021

PART 1 – Member-to-Member Conflict

Declaration of Intent

When one member complains of harassment, (including sexual harassment), or workplace violence 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.

This policy applies to any form of harassment, bullying, personal harassment, sexual harassment, respect in the workplace complaints, workplace violence, or the like, where one member is in conflict with another member. The General Provisions of this policy are best practices for whenever members come into situations of conflict in the workplace, even if the conflict does not involve complaints of harassment or violence.

When this policy refers to the ‘complainant,’ or ‘respondent,’ or ‘complaint,’ this is not intended to limit the applicability of this policy where a process may not use these terms and may, for example, use ‘initiating party,’ or ‘notice of occurrence.’ For the purposes of this policy such terms should be taken to be synonymous.
The Guild’s starting point is an absolute zero tolerance for any form of harassment, (including sexual harassment), or workplace violence.

Definitions:

Harassment stems from inequality, discrimination – both systemic and individual – and intolerance in our society and is often used as a demonstration of power.

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.

Workplace harassment means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome or workplace sexual harassment. Workplace sexual harassment means:

a) engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace because of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, where the course of comment or conduct is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome, or

b) making a sexual solicitation or advance where the person making the solicitation or advance is in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the worker and the person knows or ought reasonably to know that the solicitation or advance is unwelcome;

In practical terms, this could include, but is not limited to:

● making remarks, jokes or innuendos that demean, ridicule, intimidate or offend
● displaying or circulating offensive pictures or materials in print or electronic form
● bullying
● repeated offensive or intimidating phone call or e-mails

The normal exercise of management rights, in particular, the right to assign tasks and the right to reprimand or impose discipline under the terms of the agreement, are not defined as harassment.

It is a discriminatory practice, in matters related to employment, to harass an individual on any of the following prohibited grounds of discrimination: race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, marital status, family status, disability, or conviction for an offence for which a pardon has been granted. It includes any comment or conduct based on the grounds listed above, that offends or humiliates. Discrimination on the basis of childbirth and pregnancy is covered under the category – sex. Further consider other such grounds as designated under the relevant provincial or territorial legislation.

Workplace violence is defined as the exercise of physical force by a person against a worker, in a workplace, that causes or could cause physical injury to the worker. It also includes:

● the attempt to exercise physical force against a worker in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker; and a statement or behaviour that a worker could reasonably interpret as a threat
● the exercise of physical force against the worker, in a workplace, that could cause physical injury to the worker

Examples could include but are not limited to:

● verbally threatening to attack a worker;
● leaving threatening notes at or sending threatening emails to a workplace;
● shaking a fist in a worker’s face;
● wielding a weapon at work;
● hitting or trying to hit a worker;
● throwing an object at a worker;
● sexual violence against a worker;
● kicking an object the worker is standing on, such as a ladder; or
● trying to run down a worker using a vehicle

If a person believes they are being harassed or a victim of workplace violence, the first step is to make the offender aware, where possible, that such behaviour is unwelcome and must stop immediately.

All Guild members have the right to work in an environment free of any form of harassment or violence.

PART 2 – General Provisions:

1. When a member contacts the Guild with a complaint of any form of harassment, (including sexual harassment), or workplace violence 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 assigned staff representative will handle the complaint with complete confidentiality and will not communicate about the complaint with any other party without express consent. Assignments will be made considering the past contacts of the representative, and will aim to avoid conflicts of interest or the apprehension of bias.

2. If a complaint or any other process is initiated, or if for whatever reason the respondent member requires union representation related to the matter, a separate representative will be assigned. The assignment of the representative will be made considering past contacts of the representative and will aim to avoid conflicts of interest or the apprehension of bias. The representatives of the complainant and the respondent member will not discuss or otherwise share information regarding the case, except, if required, to discuss matters of process. 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 respondent. 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 President or the Designated staff rep supervisor who will be charged with ensuring that staff representatives are properly assigned and providing appropriate assistance to the members involved. Where necessary, a steward or other union officer may be assigned to represent. If there are members participating in any process as witnesses, they will also be assigned a union representative, whether a staff representative, steward or other union officer as may be appropriate to the situation. Francophone members have the right to representation in French. 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. 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 harassment, (including sexual harassment), or workplace violence. The Guild will pressure the employer to act quickly and effectively in accordance with 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 recognizes that a person whose complaint 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. 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 any outside lawyers’ fees. 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 those of 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 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, the CP policy on sexual harassment and others.

Final Considerations:

Should any matter in this internal policy or its application be in conflict with any 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 jeopardize the strict observance of these time limits.

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 involved who needs help on a separate matter will be fully entitled to have his or her separate matter considered by the Guild.

Conclusion:

If you believe you are being harassed, act immediately. Contact the union. 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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