What is a PSLRTA?
PSLRTA is short for the Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act. It was passed in 1997 to cover mergers, amalgamations, and other restructuring in three public service sectors: municipalities and local boards, school boards, and hospitals. Often, these changes bring together workers in similar bargaining units who belong to one union in one place and another union in the second; in this instance, OPSEU/SEFPO at Mainstay and SEIU in Houselink. When a merger results in members of different unions being combined into a single bargaining unit, PSLRTA dictates the process for deciding whose contract applies and which union negotiates the next one.
How does the PSLRTA process begin?
Any of the unions, or often the employer, makes an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. This application asks the Labour Board to determine the number and description of the bargaining unit(s) that are affected, and whichunion should represent the employees. At this point, all the other parties get involved – the employer, OPSEU/SEFPO and SEIU. All parties can file their responses to the application.
What happens to my collective agreement during a PSLRTA?
Once the PSLRTA process is initiated by the filing of an application to the Labour Board, any bargaining taking place is suspended. The employer is bound by all previously existing contracts. Each collective agreement continues to apply to the employees who were previously covered by it prior to the merger. OPSEU/SEFPO members continue to work under their OPSEU/SEFPO collective agreement and SEIU members continue to work under the terms of their collective agreement.
How can I get information about each union before the vote?
You will have numerous opportunities to speak with representatives from both unions before voting. During the access period agreed to by the employer, OPSEU/SEFPO and SEIU, the unions will both be able to communicate with all employees participating in the vote to ensure that you have the information you need to make your decision. This will include sharing information via meetings, email, postal mail, and over the phone. Remember, you’re voting on a union, not a collective agreement. It’s important to do your research into each union prior to the vote to make an informed decision.
What are common provisions?
Common provisions are negotiated between the winning union and the employer. These include:
The union that wins the vote will negotiate common seniority language with the employer to cover everyone in the bargaining unit. If they cannot agree, the Labour Board will rule on the language. The seniority of employees is “dovetailed” so employees who started on the same day with different predecessor employers and had similar work histories would have the same seniority with the new employer. The seniority language can be modified as long as the changes respect the principle of a common definition of seniority for everyone in the bargaining unit.
Often, the winning union’s language covering posting of vacancies and new positions, promotions, transfers, layoffs and recalls applies to everyone in the new merged bargaining unit. However, this can be negotiated with the employer.
A common grievance procedure takes effect for the entire bargaining unit. The employer and the winning union can also agree that other provisions of the contract should apply to all employees.
What should I expect on voting day?
The Labour Board oversees the voting process. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this vote will take place electronically. Voting is done by secret ballot either by phone or online. There can be no interference with the process, coercion or intimidation of voters. You will receive an email with a phone number and a URL to a website, together with a unique personal identification number (PIN). The PIN may only be used once. The decision will be determined by a simple majority – more than 50 per cent of ballots cast.
What happens after the vote?
Once the Labour Board determines which union has won, that union is declared the bargaining agent and is certified to represent all workers at Houselink and Mainstay Community Housing.
Your previous collective agreement continues to apply until one new first collective agreement is bargained, except for common provisions.
Who can I contact if I have questions or concerns about the PSLRTA and the upcoming vote?
OPSEU/SEFPO staff have many years of experience with mergers and are always available to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.
Feel free to contact:
OPSEU/SEFPO Organizing Representative
OPSEU/SEFPO Organizing Representative
OPSEU/SEFPO Staff Representative