Acquisition Initiatives in Premise & Advantage Channels
Over the last 18 months, there have been many questions from our membership regarding the ever increasing demands from YP management to dedicate more and more of your time to acquisition duties in the revenue sales channels, and more specifically in the premise channel. Members have complained that these initiatives are time intensive, provide minimal return and conflict with other responsibilities. We have addressed these concerns repeatedly with the company and we have been assured that all activities related to prospecting and acquiring NINA sales are voluntary and activity levels relating to this project would not result in any type of formal discipline. With this assurance from YP we decided on a wait and see approach.
Unfortunately, despite their assurances to us, it has become increasingly implied through the employer’s communication strategy that this initiative is not voluntary. Furthermore, sales management has at various times insisted that members attend on the road, Shop the Neighbourhood blitz days, half day in-office blitz sessions and extra in-office sessions for those not at target, and most recently we have been advised that we must have six acquisition appointments per month and Senior Sales Managers will be on ride-a-longs to ensure we do.
As you are all well aware, we have several sales divisions that focus solely on new client acquisition. Their compensation structure was designed and bargained with those duties in mind. The same cannot be said for the revenue channels. Their compensation structures in no way reflect the current focus on acquisition, but rather were structured to reflect their priorities at the time of bargaining, which were clearly the renewal and sales maximization of existing revenue accounts.
It is the position of the union that the employer stated specifically during 2010 contract re-negotiations, that in order to increase NINA sales penetration they wished to reserve acquisition accounts (new-in, non-ads and prospecting) for the Acquisition channel. After negotiated agreements were made in 2010 to account assignment levels, salary and commission rates to make up for the loss, the union agreed to the employer’s request. In subsequent bargaining rounds for new collective agreements (most recently the 2013-2016 CBA) YP has made no mention or proposed changes to this structure.
In an effort to resolve this matter, and to support the acquisition initiative as part of the Return to Growth strategy the union has made repeated requests (over many months) to the employer to come to the table with us to negotiate an interim agreement on this matter. We have suggested that any agreement should include appropriate commission rates for Premise channel and Advantage channel MAC’s for sales to NINA’s and prospects and additionally for the acquiring of prospect leads and clarified rules regarding access to these accounts must be considered.
Unfortunately, the employer, has for all intents and purposes ignored our invitation to bargain by restating the voluntary nature of these initiatives. This re-statement came as a response to the grievance we filed earlier in the year to clarify our position on the matter.
YP is well aware that it has historically been the position of our union, to consider all issues openly and with respect for the company’s needs. We have always remained open to new ideas and initiatives that contribute to the success of the company AND our members. We remain willing to meet with them at any time to discuss these ideas and negotiate a resolution.
In the meantime, whether we commence negotiations, or proceed to arbitration, we expect that the company will respect their promise to encourage these initiatives in a voluntary format, and to reiterate their position to MAC’s that this initiative and all activities related to it are voluntary. We also trust that our members will utilize whichever are the most appropriate opportunities, tools and methods to maximize their results, their client’s satisfaction, and their own earning potential.
In the past, it has not been the practice of the union to publicize open grievance issues because we have felt that (in some cases) to do so can tend to polarize positions, and can interfere with the ability to negotiate a settlement on issues. However, in our recent membership survey our members expressed to us that this needs to change, that you want to be more involved and aware of issues. Therefore, effective immediately the union will post a monthly update on any grievance and arbitration matters. While the privacy of members and the efficacy of the legal process will need to be respected and maintained, we will endeavor to provide you with a greater view on all the issues that your union is dealing with on your behalf.
COPE Local 131