Friday, February 28, 2014

Demanding a fair wage based on Market Studies

I have to confess a bias right from the start.  I work in Information Technology and confess to writing my first computer program using both mark-sense cards and a key-punch machine at the tender age of 16.  I'll let you all do the math to guess my age.  Nevertheless one could say that I've been working within Information Technology for a while.  During the time that I've worked in the Information Technology Industry I've seen enormous change.  I've also seen the enormous and almost invisible impact that Information Technology has on our daily lives.  I say almost invisible because it is ubiquitous it is everywhere and seen nowhere.  Even if we hold it in the palm of our hands we fail to see that it was innovation within the Information Technology industry that allows us to speak to people thousands and thousands of kilometres away as if they were standing right next to you or perform intensive computational feats beyond the scale of any computing platform that I learnt on. 

That ubiquitousness is very much a plus to the public but it is also very much a minus to information technology workers in the OPS.  While we all accept and embrace the use of information technologies in our everyday lives, the public fails to understand or value,  the knowledge, training, and talent that goes into making all that possible.

It would appear too that the Employer also fails to understand that all of its services and programs available to the public and the bureaucracy are there because of information technology, because of the decades of accumulated knowledge, the years of training, the information strategies and architectures that provide the planning foundation for the millions upon millions of lines of software code written by a highly intelligent -- and mobile workforce.  That workforce, especially when there is an uptick in the economy and the private sector decides to spend money, are quickly courted and romanced with generous bonuses and benefits. 

The Employer seems to have forgotten the real value of the Information Technology worker to its ability to implement policies and provide services to the people of Ontario or even to the day to day running of government.  Otherwise why would it force below market salaries onto its information technology workers and risk alienating them.  Is it arrogance or ignorance?  

During the last Collective Agreement information technology workers and their contribution and importance to the delivery of services to the public and the bureaucracy was  disrespected and disregarded by the Employer when AMAPCEO was forced to concede to a set of pay levels based on what is now widely regarded as an incompetently implemented job evaluation system. For comparative purposes I am including a excerpt from the salary scale under which information technology workers are graded and paid.   

I have also included a table from a salary guide report authored by a very influential and respected company that regularly comments on, amongst other things, the salary outlooks for workers across many business sectors and regions. But first is the pay scales imposed by the Employer during the last round of bargaining. Most AMAPCEO represented technology workers fall into the level 6 category with a handful of outliers falling into level 7.

Government of Ontario IT 2013 Salary Guide
Classification Levels               2013

5  $64,605  $  90,300
6  $69,680  $  99,600
7  $75,000  $105,740
8  $85,000  $116,210

You can see for yourself how ridiculously low the Employer compensates information technology workers compared to what those information technology workers could be paid in the private sector.

Robert Half Technology 2014 Salary Guide
Job Title             2013                     2014 % Change
Database Manager $96,500 $129,250 $102,000 $136,500 5.8%
Database Developer $77,500 $109,250 $  82,750 $116,500 6.7%
Database Administrator $77,000 $105,000 $  81,000 $110,500 5.2%
Data Analyst/Report Writer $68,750 $  94,500 $  72,250 $  99,250 5.1%
Data Architect $97,250 $132,750 $104,000 $142,000 7.0%
Data Modeler $81,250 $110,500 $  85,750 $116,750 5.6%
Data Warehouse Manager $93,750 $126,500 $  99,250 $133,750 5.8%
Data Warehouse Analyst $86,000 $117,000 $  91,000 $123,750 5.8%
Business Intelligence Analyst $76,000 $105,750 $  81,750 $113,750 7.6%
Portal Administrator  $68,000 $  92,500 $  71,500 $  97,250 5.1%
Quality Assurance (QA) & Testing (c)
ONTesting Manager $76,750 $102,750 $  80,500 $107,750 4.9%
QA Associate/Analyst  $64,500 $  90,250 $  67,250 $  94,250 4.4%
Internet & E-Commerce (d)
Senior Web Developer $84,750 $109,500 $  89,750 $116,000 5.9%
Web Developer $62,000 $  89,750 $  65,750 $  95,250 6.1%
Web Administrator $62,250 $  81,750 $  64,500 $  84,500 3.5%
Web Designer $65,250 $  90,000 $  69,000 $  95,250 5.8%
Electronic Data Interchange (ED I) Specialist $66,250 $  92,000 $  69,750 $  96,750 5.2%
E-Commerce Analyst $66,000 $  94,750 $  69,750 $100,250 5.8%
Messaging Administrator $63,500 $  80,000 $  67,000 $  84,500 5.6%

Now in the current round of negotiations the Employer will place even more pressure on the Association to keep the salaries scales where they are, to trim back your benefits to a point where they are laughable, and to NOT provide any merit incentives to even employees deemed “fully effective” by their managers. Under this proposal, only those that the Employer deems to be the very highest performers would be rewarded with a merit increase, reduced from current levels. Moreover, the Employer is pushing to eliminate the majority of your current paramedical provisions, and drastically reduce the eligible drugs the plan will pay for.

Meanwhile, private sector information technology workers enjoy market rate salaries, pay for performance bonuses, good health-care benefits, and year-end bonuses that number in the thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars.  All the while you are stuck at a below market salary.

Should you be angry with the Employer's attempt to decimate your benefits package, and to continue to again freeze your salary -- up to you but I am mad as hell and am not going to take it!  Make your voice heard and your presence felt!

Post the AMAPCEO posters and fly the AMAPCEO flag at your desk, Wear the AMAPCEO lanyard and badges to meetings.  Make the employer aware that you too are as mad as hell and aren't going to take it any more.  You gave at the office last time! 

If you have any questions and comments about bargaining direct them to

Thursday, February 20, 2014



The Bargaining Team has met with the Employer and the Employer has issued their demands for concessions from us. I have been briefed on the Opening Proposal given to the Bargaining Team by the Employer and can share with you now that the Opening Proposal given to AMAPCEO by the Employer is very aggressive and we stand to lose a lot in terms of benefits, incentives and other items that we have all come to enjoy unless we stand united. For the time being the specific demands by the Employer are considered 'confidential' by the other Board members so I have to comply with their wishes.  I hope to be able to share in the near future the critical demands from the Employer

I know that many of you have written notes to the Bargaining Team asking them to pay particular attention to specific issues such as JE and real compensation instead of more pay freezes.  Now is the time to write them a note of support and demonstrate your support by putting up the "I'm In" posters and showing the AMAPCEO flags in your cubicles and by wearing the lanyards being distributed by Activists. 

I am including below the Opening Statement from AMAPCEO which I think you will all agree is reasonable and fair. I ask you all to read opening statement and become familiar with the stance that our Bargaining Team is taking with regard to presenting our proposals to the Employer. I anticipate that this round of negotiations will be extremely difficult, stressful, and tiring for the Bargaining Team. Their persistence and resistance to the employers demands and striving to arrive at fair and equitable resolutions will be strengthened by your visible support. You can send your questions, messages of support, or comments to

Please read the Opening Statement carefully.  I welcome your feedback and discussion.

February 18, 2014

As you look across the table at the AMAPCEO bargaining team, any of you who were here in previous rounds of bargaining -- and there may not be many of you -- would see profound changes from previous years.

The team is much larger than in previous years. It has been selected from a broader elected group of members. It reflects the many different constituencies of the AMAPCEO membership. The new Chair, Dianne Colville, is a regular member on leave from her OPS job in order to participate in bargaining.

There are more AMAPCEO staff involved in the bargaining process than ever before. There are significantly more resources devoted to bargaining, both here and away from the table. In fact, away from the table, both AMAPCEO activists and ordinary members have been involved in an enhanced mobilization campaign since the Fall, and you can expect to see activities being stepped up as required in the coming weeks.

These changes can easily be seen and observed. What lies behind these changes and what is likely not as visible to you -- but what is, of course, more important -- is the changed attitude, approach and commitment of both AMAPCEO, and its membership, in this round of bargaining.

First, AMAPCEO’s long-standing policy on essential services negotiations is dead. No longer does AMAPCEO or its members believe that essential services negotiations should be avoided altogether or deferred as long as possible because industrial relations strife is something our members are not interested in and will have to be foisted on them by the Employer. Our members have learned that sanctions and the threat of sanctions is the only thing the civil service as an employer is responsive to. As a result, we have moved essential services negotiations along as quickly as possible, and in fact we have now reached an agreement.

Second, in the past you would not have expected AMAPCEO to ever apply for conciliation. That expectation should be long gone.

Third, unlike the last round of bargaining, AMAPCEO is not asking for an assurance of a set period of time for bargaining before there will be an application by the Employer for conciliation. Indeed, we now have our own time frame for negotiations, and it is not long. If there is going to be a debate in this province in the coming weeks on public services, our members will want to be able to have their say, and they will want to be sure that they will be in a legal position to be heard, loud and clear. And everyone who doesn’t know, should know, that we have the funds and the resources to make our voices heard in the public arena as well as through membership action.

We should be clear about the cause of these changes: in a word it is the conduct of the government, both its negotiators and its principals, since 2008.

From the overt effort to destroy AMAPCEO in the summer of 2008 in the so called “modernization consultations”, to the deception and bad faith in the 2009 round of negotiations as found by the Ontario Labour Relations Board, through to the bullying, and gross political interference with the concluded arrangements and understandings already made at this table in 2012 – not to mention the overall unfairness of what transpired in the 2012 bargaining – through all of this, our members and the AMAPCEO leadership have learned many lessons.

After we began the last round of bargaining, you demanded concessions based on an agreement you said you had reached with OECTA, which you said would become the model for all the collective agreements with teachers and for the broader public sector. You insisted on an OECTA type model for the OPS agreement.

After weeks of trying to come up with some form of understanding, an agreement in principle on a savings target, as a key component of an ultimate agreement, was reached by the parties. In retrospect, even that Agreement – and the government imposed savings target it included -- would have turned out to be unfair to AMAPCEO employees, because of what later occurred in your negotiations with other unions.

But, at least that agreement would not have left the bad taste in our member’s mouths of what did occur, when the officials in Dalton McGuinty’s office directed the government negotiators to go back on their commitments to AMAPCEO, and directed them to bully their way to a resolution.

The OECTA deal, about which you talked to us so much, turned out to be a mere mirage -- a shadow of what you purported it was, and a shadow of the template you said it would become. In subsequent weeks and months after concluding the agreement with us, the government systematically backed further and further away from the OECTA agreement, in agreements struck with OSSTF, both before and even more so after the initial deal with them was rejected in their ratification process, then with CUPE, and of course with ETFO. And then -- with other OPS unions.

The only thing that really remained was the elimination of the sick pay gratuity, something that OPS employees had long since ceased to have and which had no application to our members. What’s more, the previous system of 20 accumulating sick days a year for teachers was replaced with a more generous 11 days at 100 per cent and the remainder (prior to long term disability ) at 90 per cent, far more generous than the AMAPCEO collective agreement in place at the time, not to mention the current one.

Other so-called components of the savings target were also reduced or eliminated. The three days off without pay to pay for grid movement was effectively cut down to one for all non-teacher bargaining units and likely one for most teachers (as compared to the AMAPCEO fifteen and a half!).

And OECTA got the benefit of every retreat, based on their “me too” clause with the government, a clause you refused to give to us. And let’s not forget, shall we, the priority hiring provisions OECTA and the unions obtained, the job security provisions that CUPE and ETFO obtained, and the restoration of the 2% wage increase on September 1, 2014 to elementary teachers which ETFO had lost as compared to the other teachers’ unions because of the 2008-12 negotiations.

What the last agreement with AMAPCEO showed, as compared to all the subsequent teacher and other education unions, and the OPSEU and other OPS agreements, was that AMAPCEO employees paid a price that no one else paid. For their part, OPSEU employees did not have to do anything comparable. Where is the fairness in that? And this after they got a 3% wage increase in 2012 which AMAPCEO members were deprived of. And what about the OPPA deal, providing for an automatic 8.75% increase this year, following two years of no across the board increases. Will you be proposing that same adjustment to AMAPCEO members, given that we not only agreed to two years of 0% across the board increases, but also to a savings target the amount of which no other OPS or BPS employees have absorbed?

You should not be surprised that all of this has left a strong residue of bitterness, disappointment and anger in the AMAPCEO membership. Everyone who fell 3% behind OPSEU because you rewarded them with a 3% increase in 2012 but did not give it to AMAPCEO members, is angry. Everyone who lost merit pay of .5% per year, and who now has to wait so unreasonably long to get to their salary maximum, is disappointed. Everyone whose salary has been capped at unreasonably low maximums, is bitter. And everyone who was red circled or who lost headroom and P4P without equitable provisions being made for them in the future, is angry.

We recognize that the political environment in 2012 drew unwanted attention to pay for performance bonuses. We suggest, however, that the elimination of this provision is bad human resource policy and challenge the Employer to work with AMAPCEO to develop a mechanism to incent and reward employees who are at the top of their salary range.

Now let’s talk about the burning issue: all AMAPCEO members are angry about the unfairness and arbitrariness of being required to give up COC days and other time off provisions for no good reason. In fact, AMAPCEO members are livid about the credit reductions and suspension of COC days when no one else did anything comparable. In 2013, each of our regular members spent 9.5 days at work when they would have normally been spending with their loved ones or enjoying time free from work. Our fixed term members forfeited 9.5 days of pay that they would have normally used to pay for their necessities in life. Every FXT employee who had to give unpaid days off or money when they did not get even get COC days is angry. Did any OPSEU employee have to give up anything? And then, in 2014, there is the value of an additional 6 days/credits that every AMAPCEO member is supposed to forfeit.

The savings target and paid time off work lost by our members seriously affected them but so too did the lack of any across the board increase. In this period, inflation increased by 2.4% according to the Ontario CPI, which lowered the living standards of our members. And of course the CPI does not really reflect the real cost of living increases in the price of housing. Since so many of our members live in the GTA and other urban centers, the increase in housing prices in recent years and even since the second quarter of 2012, seriously impacts on the ability of our members to house themselves and their families. Since AMAPCEO salaries were frozen in the second quarter of 2012, home prices in Toronto have increased by 9.5% according to the Teranet National Bank index and for Ottawa and Hamilton, the corresponding figures are 2.9% and 11.2% respectively.

Given all of this, the AMAPCEO membership has told us loudly and clearly that they will not stand for it any longer. They have learned that they need to be more active if they are to resist employer concessions and achieve fair and reasonable protections and improvements for themselves.

Put simply, there is no tolerance for any of the Employer conduct we have seen recently, including in the last round of bargaining. If this conduct continues and there is no redress for the past, there will be repercussions and consequences. We do not pretend to think you are unaware of the anger many of our members have directed to the union leadership on some of these issues. It would be a mistake, however, to think that our members’ anger is pointing away from you. Our members have been waiting for the moment to be able to hold you accountable. That moment has arrived.

The AMAPCEO priorities in this round of bargaining are straightforward. There will be no concessions at this table.

There will be no moving backward on job security or pensions or benefits or contract language.
What has been unfairly taken will be restored. And improvements and protections that AMAPCEO members deserve will be negotiated. Our members expect the following:
  • the 3% increases which you gave OPSEU in 2012 and denied us, and additional real wage increases in this agreement;
  • equitable future treatment for red circled employees and those who have lost headroom in JE;
  • improved work/life flexibility, staring first with restoration of all of the COC days and any other credits given up in 2013 and 2014 for all employees;
  • improvements to paramedical coverage that are long overdue;
  • fair treatment for our Fixed Term employees.
Obviously, we also have numerous other important issues which we will insist be dealt with.
Your principals should understand who we are and what we do. Every time a Minister rises in the Legislature to answer a question, or faces a horde of media reporters, AMAPCEO members have worked hard behind the scenes to make sure that Minister is prepared with the facts and information he/she needs to respond.

The hundreds upon hundreds of meetings, conferences, and round-table discussions that take place each year between different levels of government and between ministry officials and stakeholders are successful because of AMAPCEO members.

Behind every piece of government legislation and regulation, behind every government decision, task force, report, policy, program, speech, news release, briefing note, jurisdictional scan, option paper and slide deck, are AMAPCEO members. Behind all the systems that allow government to operate and administer programs, that allow government to regulate and be accountable for the money it provides to its public and private sector partners, behind all of the machinery of government and behind the delivery of services, there are AMAPCEO members performing critical functions.

AMAPCEO members may not be the public face of government, but we know how valuable and necessary we are to those that are. And the Employer knows the impact our absence, either physically or in mindfulness, would have.

There is one additional message we have for your principals.

We do recognize that there is a new government at Queen’s Park since the last negotiation. We recognize that there is a different accountability and political responsibility for what occurred in the past. Perhaps, just perhaps, there is a different view in government of a possible different future relationship with this bargaining unit membership than has been the case in the recent past. We remain hopeful that your 11th hour delay to our start date was not indicative of continued difficult labour relations, and that, as you stated, the delay will not prejudice the parties’ ability to work expeditiously towards achieving an agreement.

From the earliest days of this new administration we have tried to make the principals in the new government understand the bitterness and anger that exists in our membership, the impact all of this has had on morale, and urged upon them ways to fix things long before now. Thus far, your principals have refused to do so. Perhaps they took the civil service advice to not react, or to wait until bargaining, which if true was an ill-advised decision because much of the goodwill which you could have garnered has been squandered and dissipated by the refusal to make obviously fair and necessary changes up until now.

However, if your political principals want to do business on a new footing, and if they are ready to be fair and even handed, then we are prepared to be a reasonable partner for a different relationship and for progress and for change. The ball, however, is clearly in their court, and we have few reservoirs of patience. If today and in the days to come the government negotiators persist in their same old messages, their same old style, and their same old tactics, we will not hesitate to draw the obvious conclusions.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The problem with Founders

On the weekend my wife and I went to have lunch with some friends of hers. While we were waiting for lunch to be set out on the table I struck up a conversation with the hostess’s husband.  Mark works for a company that in turn works with maturing start-up companies. We eventually got around to talking about working with the Founders of the start-up. Mark has worked with several start-ups now so it was interesting to hear his observations of what it was like to work with people whose sense of self is so intimately wrapped up with their company.
For years many of these people have work tirelessly getting their baby up and walking. They have done everything from licking stamps on envelopes sent to prospective clients to working on deals that will finance their company’s first expansion beyond a handful of employees.  They have done it all and feel they know it all. Mark’s speciality is to take these companies to the next level. To help them 'cross the chasm' to use a term popularised in Geoffrey A. Moore’s book, Crossing the Chasm. Because if they can’t make the leap they most certainly will fall into that chasm, flounder and die.

I asked Mark, “What is the biggest impediment you have found to a start-up successfully crossing the chasm?”. His reply, “It is often the Founder.  The problem with Founders is that they are great starters, with great ideas, who can get things done through sheer will and strength of personality, and of course technical know-how, but when it comes to taking the business to the next level, they need people with a skill set or capabilities that they just don’t have. Quite often that is a huge blind spot for them”.  Intellectually some Founders know this, but because they have held the reins for so long and have made so many of the important decisions, they simply cannot let go. Founders have other issues as well as not being able to let go or learning new skills.

Founders often fail to build trust amongst the others in the organisation or they erode trust during their daily interactions with others.  They simply do not trust others to do the work the way they believe it should be done. Consequently, the staff never gain the confidence needed to make good decisions or the mistrust sets up a situation where communication within the organisation is poor.
Sometimes Founders end up focusing on the wrong things, the things that they feel comfortable with, but not necessarily the strategic activities such as growing the revenue through expanding the customer base or finding more efficient and effective ways of running the business. 

Founders often forget too that in a small space their every behaviour is seen and evaluated by those around them.  Their behaviour is often considered as the ‘norm’ to be replicated as the culture develops. If the Founder shirks responsibility for bad decisions and places the blame on others then that too finds its way into the culture, with unfortunate consequences.

The drive to be popular is sometimes a weakness demonstrated by a Founder. The primary responsibility of the Founder is not to develop friendships but to deliver results.  While collegiality is a good thing outstanding results are what create a happy and unified team who in turn can create stellar results. 

Sometimes Founders, because of their early leadership position and the impact they have had on the development of the organisation fall into the trap of self-importance. They get caught up in their position and often seek outside recognition and accolades for themselves or see themselves as indispensable. They love to get out in front of the crowd and talk about what they are doing, rather than what the organisation is doing. What they fail to see is this “all-about-me” approach turns people away eventually causing the leader's own demise.

I spoke of Founders having blind spots earlier. 360 evaluations are very useful when it comes to revealing blind spots in a leader's or anyone's behaviour. However, many organisational cultures do not support a 360 evaluation of their leaders. The reasons’ are many but the result is the same. Founders do not see, aren’t aware of, or simply deny having a blind spot. Without the 360 evaluation Founders need to have people around them that are brave enough to point out the blind spots and if need be hold the Founder accountable for adjusting their behaviour.  Unfortunately, when they do not address their blind spots, they often find themselves on the outside looking in after the investors have pushed them aside or out and brought in a whole new management team to help the organisation ‘cross the chasm’.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What you allow is what will continue ....

Theodore Roosevelt once uttered “The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” So like so NOT going to happen - the do nothing thing that is. I didn't become a Director on the Board of the Ontario Public Service's second largest union to sit on my hands and do nothing.  Time and the membership of AMAPCEO will tell me whether I've done the right thing, or the wrong thing, no one will be able to say I did nothing. 


Why have I embarked on writing a blog?

The reason is quite simple.  The union has done a less than stellar job in informing its membership about what is happening and what it is doing, except during periods of mobilisation.  The refrain that I frequently hear from certain individuals is "it is on the website!"  There are very few things where "Build it and they will come" applies.  Websites are certainly not one of them with the exception of banking websites where you might go on pay day to shuffle money around or to pay bills, or websites where you might go to purchase concert, theatre, or airline tickets.  Other than that why bother, why remember?  There is nothing sticky or compelling about the AMAPCEO website.

"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood"  

My intentions are to keep anyone reading this blog up to date with what the Board and the Provincial Council is contemplating and accomplishing throughout my term of office.  Having said that I am bound by a confidentiality agreement which restricts some of what I can publish. But I can and will publish or provide a link to the approved minutes of  Board meetings and any other documents that might be of interest to the membership. What I cannot publish or comment on are topics that have been taken 'in camera' or declared a matter to be confidential as a result of a majority of the Board agreeing to do so. When the Board has declared a matter to be confidential, I have a duty to respect and comply with the confidentiality.

So what sort of topics are considered confidential or subjects of 'in camera' meetings? They are topics such as but not necessarily limited to strategic discussions related to collective bargaining, business planning disclosures made to the Association by the Employer, personal details related to member disputes, personal details related to AMAPCEO staff, advice from legal counsel including matters related to litigation or potential litigation and other matters in which premature public disclosure could be detrimental to the interests of the Association or its members.

Then there is the topic of Board solidarity that in a nutshell means that once the majority of the Board has voted and becomes the decision of the Board it is the duty of all members to accept and abide by the decision. The Board is expected to speak with “one voice” in those matters on which it has decision-making authority.

How is this blog going to make a difference?

For one, you will come here because you've either found it and are curious about what I'll write next or you'll receive a message from me that is intriguing enough for you to take 10 minutes and read what I've written.  Lets put aside the first supposition in the previous sentence and go with the second one -- that you have received a message from me.  How is that going to work?  Well, I can tell you know that I won't have free access to the AMAPCEO membership list and individual personal email addresses.

I'll embark on something called permission marketing, a term popularized by Seth Godin.  Permission marketing requires that the prospective customer, in this case you, has given explicit permission for the marketer to send their promotional message. I'm not going to market anything to you, with the exception of perhaps ideas that I may promote from time to time to see if they resonate with you. But simply put I will ask you for the privilege of engaging you in a dialogue generated by this blog. 

So what do you want to talk about?

Well that is up to you, otherwise I'll simply monopolise the conversation, which will get really dull, really fast.  

"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"  lyrics/music by Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell, and Sol Marcus

“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” -Theodore Roosevelt - See more at:
“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” -Theodore Roosevelt - See more at:
“The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” -Theodore Roosevelt - See more at: