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Bloodlines: Is ‘voluntary interest arbitration’ really a better deal? YES!

Bloodlines Bargaining Bulletin
Issue 4, September 8, 2017
For OPSEU Support members working at Canadian Blood Services

Your OPSEU bargaining team has fielded several questions since our last bulletin outlining the highlights of the tentative agreement signed in August. The question that seems to be coming up in all locals is this one: “Are we better off settling contract disputes through ‘voluntary interest arbitration,’ or would we better off leaving things as they are?

In the tentative agreement, the parties agreed that all matters that cannot be agreed upon in future rounds of bargaining will be settled by voluntary interest arbitration. But some members are wondering about a different option. They’re asking: If CBS workers maintained the right to strike, went on strike, and were then legislated back to work by the government, wouldn’t that result in a higher wage increase than what we achieved in the tentative settlement?

The answer is NO. There are two reasons why.

It is reasonable to assume that, given the work we do at CBS, the provincial government would not want a strike to go on for long. We could very well be legislated back, and quickly. Here’s the problem: when they order workers back to work, governments do one of two things: 1) send outstanding issues to arbitration, or 2) impose a tentative agreement. In the first case, we’d be no better off; in the second, we’d likely be worse off.

At arbitration, arbitrators base their decisions on the same objective criteria – no matter how the issues arrive before them. Whether arbitration happens by voluntary agreement or through government legislation, arbitrators still have to consider factors of comparability, of replication, of ability to pay, and of demonstrated need.

In our voluntary arbitration process, we have agreed to a Board of Arbitration because we believe having a union-side nominee on the Board to advocate for our issues is an advantage over leaving the dispute in the hands of a sole arbitrator. With government-ordered arbitration, a union nominee would not be a part of the process and a single arbitrator would hear the issues in dispute. This is not to your advantage! 

Of course, it is not guaranteed at all that a government that orders you back to work will send outstanding issues to arbitration. It could decide to impose a settlement instead. That wouldn’t be better than what you’d get at arbitration, but it could be worse. A lot worse.

In the last 35 years, the Ontario government has issued back-to-work legislation 20 times. In 25 per cent of these cases, the government has simply imposed a settlement. And settlements imposed on striking workers don’t tend to be favourable.

If you continue to have questions about the tentative agreement, please contact a member of the bargaining team for clarification.

2017 ratification vote schedule

All CBS Support members are encouraged to get out and vote on this tentative agreement!

Sunday, September 10

Local 5103: OPSEU Toronto Regional Office, 31 Wellesley St. E., Toronto, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Local 210: OPSEU Hamilton Regional Office, 505 York Blvd., 2nd Floor, Hamilton, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Monday, September 11

Local 200: CBS Brampton, 100 Parkshore Dr., Brampton, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tuesday, September 12

Local 160: CBS London, 820 Wharncliffe Rd. S., London, 8 a.m. – 12 noon
Local 160: CBS Windsor, 3909 Grand Marais Rd. E., Windsor, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Wednesday, September 13

Local 5103: CBS Barrie, 231 Bayview Dr., Suite 100, Barrie, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Local 5103: OPSEU Peterborough Regional Office, 1840 Lansdowne Street W., Unit 12, Peterborough, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Thursday September 14

Local 477: OPSEU Kingston Regional Office, 824 John Counter Blvd., Kingston, 12 noon to 4 p.m.

Friday, September 15

Local 477: CBS Ottawa Concourse, 40 Concourse Gate, Ottawa, 8 a.m. – 12 noon
Local 477: CBS Ottawa, Perm Site, 1575 Carling Ave., Ottawa, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Read the Memorandum of Settlement

For a full copy of the entire Memorandum of Settlement negotiated between OPSEU and Canadian Blood Services, please click here.

CBS Support: Who are we?

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union represents more than 850 support members at Canadian Blood Services including phlebotomists, donor care assistants, donor services representatives, drivers, laboratory assistants and clerks. OPSEU represents CBS support members in London, Brampton, Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto.

Connect with OPSEU

The Member Portal gives you secure online access to services and member information 24/7, including:

  • updating your contact information
  • downloading your collective agreement and bylaws (if available)
  • earning more about your local executive committee
  • submitting expense claims electronically 48 hours after an event

Visit the Member Portal to see how easy it is to get online services and information! 

Your 2017 CBS Support bargaining team

Jennifer Johnson, Chair

Gloria Blanchard

Amanda Monette

Alberto Alvaro

Geoffrey Cain

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