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Bargaining update: The interest arbitration award is in

Because of Bill 124, this was an extremely difficult, almost impossible round of bargaining. We refused to accept what the employer was offering, but through interest arbitration, We’ve achieved the maximum that Bill 124 allows.

I want to thank all members for their patience and support throughout the entire bargaining process and for their solidarity efforts with the bargaining team. They made a big difference.

– Omid Nouri, chair

Interest arbitration took place on Saturday, April 30. We had presented our case regarding the key items in dispute, including, but not limited to:

  • wages and special-case wage adjustments
  • benefit improvements
  • shift premiums
  • claims for related experience
  • job-posting language
  • personal days
  • vacation improvements

Click here to read the award and agreed-to items.

Award and agreed-to items summary

Your team fought hard and pushed the employer to arbitration. As you will see from the award, we are bound by Bill 124, the Protecting a Sustainable Public

Sector for Future Generations Act, 2019, which limits total compensation for public sector employees for a three-year period at one per cent total compensation. This had a great impact on what the arbitrator could rule on.

Our contract will have a three-year term running from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2023. This will be our moderation period. Fortunately, when we return to bargaining in 2023, Bill 124 will not affect us during this time of galloping inflation.

Wage increases are as follows:

  • April 1, 2020: one per cent (retroactive)
  • April 1, 2021: one per cent (retroactive)
  • April 1, 2022: one per cent (retroactive)

Retroactive payments to all current and former employees will be made within 60 days of the issue of this award.

We have made a key gain on job-posting language. It will help our members applying to job competitions, because internal applicants from within the bargaining unit will be considered before external applicants.

We have made an improvement in discipline being removed from an employee’s record after 18 months; it used to be 24 months.

Compensating in lieu leave time will be banked and should be taken by June 30 of the following year. If the lieu time is not taken by June 30, the lieu time will be paid out at overtime rate. Every employee shall also have the option of requesting any portion of their compensating leave be paid out in lieu twice a year.

Letters of understanding have been renewed, with the exception of Letter of Understanding #3, as it is no longer applicable.

The Arbitration Board has also directed the parties to review the remaining amount of monies to be spent, and look to agree on how those funds will be allocated.

Because Bill 124 allows for a total compensation increase of one per cent, there are some additional monies left over after the wage increase that the arbitrator has directed should be spent and provided to employees. Your bargaining team will be working over the next couple weeks to try and come to an agreement with the employer on how to spend this money.

Should an agreement not be reached, we retain the right to submit that item back to the arbitrator for final ruling. We will be sending out another update once we can provide further information on reaching an agreement on allocating the additional monies to be spent.

The Arbitration Board also has remained seized to reopen compensation issues, should the constitutional challenge of Bill 124 be successful or be repealed.

We encourage you to speak to your bargaining team if you have any questions on the award or agreed-to items.

Keep showing us your support!

It was inspiring to see so many of our members wearing their “Worth more than 1%” stickers in solidarity with our bargaining efforts. If you still have not received your stickers, please contact your local steward our any bargaining team member.

As always we encourage you to stand in solidarity with us and wear your stickers and anything that is OPSEU/SEFPO blue. Be sure to snap some selfies and post your pics to our sector Facebook page.

Thank you again for all that you do and for standing strong with your team as we fought to improve all PHO staff’s working conditions.

In solidarity,
Your Bargaining Team:

Omid Nouri, Local 545 (Toronto), Bargaining Team Chair, omidnouri301@yahoo.com

Casey McGuire, Local 412 (Ottawa), Bargaining Team Vice-Chair, kc.mcguire1374@gmail.com

Shah Nawaz, Local 545 (Toronto), shahnawaz.l@gmail.com

Selfa Pyentam, Local 113 (London), selbarry@yahoo.com

Cathy Masterson, Local 522 (Toronto), mascf1@gmail.com