News from The Force

With 10,000 members, union files to represent Mounties

By Alison Crawford, CBC News Posted: Apr 18, 2017 5:52 PM ET

RCMP officers protesting working conditions and wages within the national police force pose on Parliament Hill on April 9 in a photo shared on social media. One of the organizations aiming to represent Mounties in collective bargaining has applied for union certification. (Submitted photo)

Mounties are one step closer to forming their first union.

The National Police Federation filed an application for certification at the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board in Ottawa late Tuesday.

The federation is seeking to represent 17,945 members of the RCMP under the rank of inspector.

More than half that number have already signed up with the NPF. Most joined the organization over the past two weeks, just as Mounties engaged in a grassroots movement to remove the yellow stripe from their pants to protest working conditions and what they describe as low wages.

Up until that point, Mounties had split their support for a single bargaining agent between the NPF and the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, a rival organization. Support shifted in favour of the federation when it endorsed the so-called ‘no stripe’ campaign.

Brian Sauvé​, NPF co-chair, told CBC News the move is an historic one because for more than 100 years “we have operated purely on esprit de corps and a paramilitary structure and a lot of trust that the government of Canada, the RCMP senior management and Treasury Board would take care of us cradle to grave.”

Yet after the last 15 years, Sauvé said, RCMP officers don’t believe that anymore. He cited among other things many unfilled positions on the front lines.

“Human resource levels are continually at sub-par standards putting our members’ safety, their families’ as well as the public at risk. And what is growing more and more apparent is the government’s intention to treat us as public servants and not a police force,” he said.

Legislation in limbo

A ribbon campaign to show solidarity with Mounties protesting working conditions spread after some officers began removing the traditional yellow stripes from their pants. (Provided by Lisa Stuart)
A ribbon campaign to show solidarity with Mounties protesting working conditions spread after some officers began removing the traditional yellow stripes from their pants. (Provided by Lisa Stuart)

The RCMP remains the only non-unionized major police force in Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada granted members of the national police force the right to form an association and collectively bargain with the federal government in January, 2015.

The top court gave the federal government one year to bring in legislation and a framework for the RCMP to unionize.

The Liberals had introduced bill C-7, which was panned by virtually everyone except for senior managers of the RCMP. It would have severely limited what Mounties could have negotiated at the bargaining table. Senators scrapped those elements and sent the bill back to the House of Commons last June, where it has remained dormant ever since.

Since that time, the Canadian Union of Public Employees has applied to the federal labour relations board to represent hundreds of sworn civilian members of the RCMP who work in telecommunications.

The labour board will next hold a public hearing to determine if the NPF application is valid. If it finds everything is in order, the board will then have to figure out a way to hold a secret ballot vote for almost 20,000 Mounties serving across Canada — some in remote locations — as well as around the world.

5 thoughts on “With 10,000 members, union files to represent Mounties

  1. I find it offensive and insensitive that serving members would dishonour our uniform by removing the stripes on the breaches or uniform pants for selfish reasons. I wore that uniform off and on with pride off for 34 1/2 years . One troop mate got shot and killed in that uniform just one month out of training. when we were being paid $2760 per year. To suggest borrowing and wearing the yellow ribbon in support of a union initiative cheapens the moral support for our soldiers. I wonder how our existing next of kin families must feel by such childish and unprofessional actions. I will leave alone the willful damage to government property. Were it that all RCMP Veterans’ Associations across Canada would express their objection.

    1. I am sure there are other ways members could deal with this issue rather than destroying Force property. Members need to be looked after by the Force and the Government. When I served we were always kept in the top 4 of the Police Universe I am not sure why that was stopped. The RCMP is a national institution and should be treated a such. Too many young members are leaving for greener pastures and that has to be corrected.

  2. Is it really necessary to earn the top dollar as a police officer?
    And why do Mounties want to remove the stripe from their uniform? It has been there for years.
    And why join a union? All unions want is money and the workers will pay them big bucks in union dues and be no farther ahead. Keep unions out of the RCMP.

  3. It would seem that the rank and file members of the Force are at a stand still when it comes to decisions being made between their Senior Management and the Treasury Board?
    Although I do not think (personally) that the establishment of a Union will resolve the issues facing the rank and file; it is imperative that the Government realize that in this day and age
    ongoing issues are not being resolved. Airing the Forces’ problems in the news media does not satisfy the issues and problems at large.
    Loyalty between the rank and file and upper management is at risk/suffering. Unionization will only complicate these matters.

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