The integrity of an iconic national safety brand and the confidence of Canadian consumers are both at risk from the punitive line that standards organization CSA Group has taken towards its 75 safety and compliance engineers.
The engineers, also known as certifiers, are engaged in protracted contract negotiations with CSA Group. After months spent trying to reach a deal, workers have begun to speculate whether their employer is determined to impose a lockout.
A labour dispute at CSA Group would be almost unknown in the organization’s hundred-year history and could shake confidence in Canadian safety standards, say negotiators for CUPE 4559, which represents the engineers working out of the organization’s Toronto headquarters.
CSA Group’s engineers’ ensure the safety of products that Canadians rely on every day. From safety shoes to Christmas lights, CSA Group engineers evaluate products, initiate recalls, and work with manufacturers to ensure product safety. Ultimately, engineers’ work provides the foundation for awarding the internationally known and trusted CSA Certification Mark.
“Engineers’ knowledge, skill and dedication ensure safety for a vast range of products in Canada and internationally,” said Martin Buchanan, President of CUPE 4559. “It’s work we’re proud of and work we love.”
The CSA mark appears on appliances, construction and building products, power generation and energy storage, industrial equipment, information and communications technology, lighting, medical and laboratory equipment, personal protective equipment, and tools and outdoor equipment. The mark is an assurance to people around the world, and to Canadians in particular, that a product meets safety and energy efficiency standards.
CSA Group’s testing and certification services are also a profit-making and profitable division of the organization, which makes recent developments in negotiations all the more shocking to CSA Group’s engineers. “They are being made to feel that the value of our work and contribution to CSA Group is in question,” said CUPE National Representative Gobishankar Sooriyakumar.
While respecting the confidentiality of negotiations, CUPE 4559 leaders and rank-and-file members are adamant about opposing employer proposals that would usher in an era of multi-tier status among CSA Group’s engineers.
“We are convinced that CSA Group’s demands will harm the organization’s ability to recruit and retain the best engineers; that, in turn, will ultimately affect safety standards and what CSA certification stands for,” said Sooriyakumar.
“We are clear that we want to reach a deal at the bargaining table, but it is CUPE 4559’s commitment to excellence and to the next generation of engineers that prevents us from giving in to CSA Group’s demands.”