CBS Bargaining Update: October 2022

Dear members,

In our last Newsletter, we advised that we were awaiting a decision from the Arbitration Board as to whether or not Bill 124 applies to CBS employees. The interim decision is now available (linked here).

Unfortunately, Bill 124 was found to apply to CBS employees. As stated in the interim decision, the Board acknowledged the parties’ assertion that Bill 124 does not apply to the unit; however, given the Treasury Board’s decision regarding ONA and CBS, and the fact that this issue falls directly into the purview of the Arbitration Board’s jurisdiction, the Board felt they were still required to determine whether Bill 124 applies.

The Board’s decision was based primarily on the Treasury Board letter to ONA and CBS, which indicates that according to the Minister, Bill 124 applies to CBS. Since Bill 124 applies to specific employers, when the Minister decided Bill 124 applies to CBS in the context of ONA, the Board determined it was clearly their intention that it applies to CBS in the context of OPSEU/SEFPO as well.

The award does outline that OPSEU/SEFPO advanced a number of arguments against Bill 124 applying to CBS. These were the arguments that were written in the Union’s brief and presented on the day of the hearing. OPSEU/SEFPO’s legal team helped develop these arguments. The Board, however, decided they have no authority to conclude the Minister’s finding that Bill 124 applies to CBS is wrong: Bill 124 states that it is the Minister’s sole discretion to declare a collective agreement or an arbitration award to be inconsistent with Bill 124. Furthermore, the Board does not have the authority to overturn a Treasury Board letter.

Next Steps:

  • Your bargaining team met on October 12 to review the award and determine how we can gain as many improvements as possible within the restrictions of 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.
  • Since Bill 124 allows for a total compensation increase of one per cent, there are some additional monies left over after the wage increase that can be used to improve working conditions.
  • Your team has reviewed the remaining amount of monies to be spent, and will work to come to an agreement with the employer on how those funds should be allocated.
  • Should an agreement not be reached, we retain the right to submit this item back to the Arbitration Board 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 or if we need to go back to the Arbitration Board.

In solidarity,

Your Bargaining Team:

Geoff Cain (Local 160): Bargaining Team Chair
Jennifer Johnson (Local 5103): Bargaining Team Vice-Chair
Alberto Alvaro (Local 200)
Dawn Lord (Local 210)
Brent MacPherson (Local 477)