I stopped in to Shoppers Drug Mart recently and when I completed my purchase, the clerk asked me to log in to Shoppers’ website and fill out a survey. When I think about such a survey, I’m certain they are getting much more information than how well the clerk served me. They’re also getting information about me:
Who I am
Where I live (please provide your postal code)
My spending habits
My travel patterns
In effect, they are developing an algorithm that will allow them to market directly at me personally. They do this for their own purposes, and really don’t give a hoot about me, just about my money.
Recently, the City of Edmonton sent a survey to all of its employees asking you to tell them how you feel about what they call “Remote Work”, by which they mean “Work From Home”. While it doesn’t affect very many of ATU’s members directly (after all, it’s a bit hard to drive your bus or repair it from home), the entire project sets a very poor tone , especially when we are getting ready for new negotiations. Here’s why:
The Unions were not consulted for input to this survey. Your elected representatives had only a few hours’ notice of the City’s intention to go around our normal process and seek personal information directly from our membership. Moreover, unlike previous information gathering initiatives, they developed the survey secretly, away from the Unions’ oversight, with no opportunity for consultation.
They will now collate the information they gathered and use it to shape their own arguments at the bargaining table. Because the Unions were not consulted and had no influence on the questions, the employer crafted the questions to suit their agenda. Whatever answer you give will, in some way, be used to support their argument.
To be sure, the Union will solicit your input as to what you want us to bargain for when we get to negotiations. (That letter will be coming out soon; keep an eye on your inbox for it). When we do that, it is the Union asking its members to instruct it, a vastly different motive than the employer developing a database of answers to canned questions all of which support their bargaining position.
In response to the survey, the Union has sent a strongly worded letter to Deputy City Manager Kim Armstrong of Employee Services. In that letter, we outlined our objections in the strongest language, initiated a “cease and desist” request and made it clear that any further end runs of this sort will attract a charge of Unfair Labour Practices and perhaps a further charge of Bargaining in Bad Faith.
ATU Local 569