Saturday, November 7, 2015

Lionbridge final tentative agreement: why we dislike it

Go here to see Lionbridge Tentative Final Agreement. 
Why should Tier 1 employees dislike it to the point they could refuse to ratify it? Read below for our analysis.

The only new benefit offered by this agreement is a very narrow minded version of the 'at least 15 days of paid time off' required by Microsoft. Why is it 'narrow minded'? For various reasons:
First, if you have not been with Lionbridge for 9 months, you don't start accruing paid time off: there are about 10 Tier 1s in this situation: they will not accrue paid time off until they have been with Lionbridge for 9 months. That's not a pleasant perspective with the holidays season arriving.
For the employees who have been with Lionbridge for 9 months, the accruing will only start at the ratification of the agreement: as the accruing is 1.25 day per month (15 days of PTO divided  by 12 months = 1.25 day per month), you'll have accrued 2,5 days by the end of this year, 
No consideration is given to the fact that you maybe have worked for Lionbridge for years.
Microsoft announced its requirement at the end of March, Lionbridge new contract with Microsoft was signed at the end of June and included this requirement: why not consider the accruing started as soon as July? That's 4 months and 5 days of PTO, right there. Of course, Lionbridge could have taken in consideration at least the past year you have worked for them but they did not so their offer is MINIMAL and RESTRICTIVE.
NO PAY INCREASE. The union asked for pay increases for everybody and especially the people paid $17 per hour and a cost of living adjustment clause. Lionbridge refused saying it follows the market and the market agrees with the present rates (that have not changed for 4 years). 
The agreement gives Lionbridge the right to increase pay according to their evaluation of our performance but if the past is any indication we were constantly told our performance was good but were never awarded any pay raise when we dared to ask for one. Why would this change except eventually for playing favorites?
The paid time off provision does not include anything specific for paid parental leave: Lionbridge does not consider that new parents, new families deserve some paid parental/family leave on top of the 15 days of PTO that slowly accrue each month. In 2014, two Tier1s became new fathers: they got zero paid leave from Lionbridge at this occasion: that's the level of support new parents who have worked for Lionbridge for years receive.
Paid holidays are good for family time and to compensate for the fact that one cannot work those days. Many Microsoft's suppliers offer PAID TIME OFF & PAID HOLIDAYS. Microsoft recently increased its paid holidays benefits to its blue badge employees to 10 holidays + 2 'personal' days.
This agreement offers nothing as Lionbridge refused the union's demand for paid holidays.
This constant refusal by Lionbridge to offer any pay increase and any additional benefit beyond the most restrictive 15 days of PTO explains the frustration of many Tier1 employees and why they consider refusing to ratify this agreement despite their wish to obtain asap some PTO.
Another significant concern with this tentative agreement is the complete conquest of the grievance process by the arbitration system: according to the agreement, any grievance between an employee and Lionbridge would have to go to arbitration. The 'problem' is the complaining employee would have to pay for this arbitration: from $800 to $1500 or more! What employee making $17 to $22 per hour can afford such rates? None. End of the grievance process.
As you can see there are many very negative aspects to the present tentative agreement. 
Think carefully about them when comes the time to vote YES or NO to ratify it.
From the poll the union did with its members it looks like they are divided. Some are tired of the whole process and want to move on despite their many misgivings with the agreement. Some think it's better refusing to ratify the present agreement. We understand both sides. Fundamentally we think this is a very unfair deal considering the profits made by Lionbridge and Microsoft.
One thing to remember for the people who would be inclined to blame the union for the present situation and results: without a union there would have been no 'at least 15 days of PTO'. It's easy to blame the union for not obtaining more from Lionbridge but the employer is never obliged to offer anything and the union's leverage is very limited. None of those who criticize ever offered to contribute to the 'negotiation', the many long, frustrating and unpaid hours volunteered to sit with a very rigid employer. In its announcement, Microsoft clearly refers to the complaints and demands we made (publicly and privately). 
We still think it's outrageous for wealthy high tech companies like Microsoft and Lionbridge not to provide more decent benefits to all the people who work for them. 

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