Bargaining news for members of OPSEU’s Hospital Professional Division: Issue 7
Reclassifications: Where we are and were
Your HPD bargaining team has received numerous requests for explanation and clarification of the status of the reclassification proposals. It is our hope that this bulletin will provide the necessary information for the members to understand the process and the subsequent decisions made by your bargaining team.
Reclassifications have been an issue that the union feels the OHA has failed to take seriously for a number of rounds of bargaining. Agreeing to participate in the legislated Pay Equity process seems to have given the OHA the impression that any reclassifications need to wait until the Pay Equity process is complete. The Union has continued to press forward in each round of bargaining with the reclassifications passed at each Demand set meeting.
From a historical perspective, the last round in which the Union was able to achieve any reclassifications was the 2004-2006 round arbitrated by Stanley Beck. Nine reclassification requests were brought forward to arbitration and three were awarded. Kinesiologists moved to the BSW grid, Echocardiographers moved to the Ultrasonographer grid and Biomedical Technologists moved to the Registered Technologist grid.
The 2006-2009 round saw a negotiated settlement where 12 reclassification requests were brought to the bargaining table. Significant gains were achieved in this round, however the Pay Equity process had been agreed upon therefore no reclassifications were achieved in the mediation process leading to the negotiated settlement.
The 2009-2011 round arbitrated by Owen Gray saw the bargaining team table 21 reclassifications. We were able to receive wage increases and some benefit improvements through arbitration that were not achievable at the table despite the OHA’s reliance on the impact of the economic downturn.
The 2011-2014 round of bargaining saw the team table 12 reclassifications. We attempted to fight off the concept of the 0 per cent wage increase by agreeing to arbitration with William Kaplan. We were awarded two years of zeros (with lump sums) and a third year of 2.75 per cent, enhanced benefits on retirement as well as unwelcome changes to the sick leave plan. From Kaplan’s perspective, reclassifications were never in the mix.
The most recent round
The Demand Set Meeting for this past round of bargaining (2014-2016) saw a total of 18 different reclassifications passed and subsequently tabled by your bargaining team.
Submitted this round (in no particular order) were Perfusionist, Genetics Technologist, ECG Technician, Orthopaedic Technologist, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, Pharmacy Technician, EEG/EMG/ENG Technicians, Medical Lab Assistant, Medical Records Technician/Health Records Tech/HRA/CHIMP, CT Technologist, OR Technician, Dietitians, Phlebotomist, Registered Technologist/Biomedical Technologist/Senior Technologist/Charge Technologist (parity with RT+). In addition, the job titles that comprise the Central Wage Grid were tabled to be revised and expanded to include the classifications of Anaesthesia Assistant, Radiation Therapist and Pathology Assistant.
Once again the OHA refused to have any form of fruitful discussion on any of these deserving reclassifications.
Your bargaining team then weighed the merits of forwarding any or all of the 18 reclassifications to arbitration.
The decision of which issues to move to arbitration is always one of the most difficult decisions facing any HPD bargaining team. The likelihood of us convincing Arbitrator Herman, or any other Arbitrator, to seriously consider 18 different reclassifications is a daunting task even in an ideal bargaining environment.
We are not, and have not been in an ideal bargaining environment for quite a while. In any round of bargaining the team is always counseled on the likelihood of the issues to which an arbitrator may be sympathetic. Notwithstanding this advice, the number of issues that a team chooses to bring forward is limited based on relative merit and the chance of success.
In this round, as in others, the team had to look at the rankings that the membership directs to the team at the Demand set meeting. At our November 2013 meeting, the demands were prioritized as follows: #1 Job Security, #2 Wages, #3 Benefits, #4 Leaves of Absence, #5 Vacation, #6 Reclassifications, #7 Premiums, #8 Heathy Workplaces, #9 Sick leave, #10 Professional fees.
With this explicit direction your team brought forward to arbitration the demands in the top-ranked areas. There was no possible way for the team to exclude the top-ranked demands and replace them with a selected few reclassifications. Even if the team had chosen this route, the question then becomes which reclassifications are brought forward and which are left behind? Do we move forward with the ones that would have an impact on the most members or choose ones with few members hoping that the financial impact would be less for the participating hospitals? Choosing one or two from 18 requests is an impossible task and sets up an opportunity for divisiveness in the membership as well as within the bargaining team.
At the end of the day, the team came to the difficult decision that there was a very slim-to-none chance that reclassification requests would be given any consideration by Arbitrator Herman.
From the OHA’s viewpoint there is always a finite pot of money available and the team felt that, given the ONA settlement of awarding only a general wage increase, the tone was set for a very sparse award.
Your team made the decision to take issues forward that would be reflective of the wishes of the membership as per the demand set rankings and at the same time be separate from the ever-looming umbrella of the pay equity process.
We are hopeful that upon conclusion of the pay equity process, there will be a new opportunity to initiate a more fulsome discussion on a variety of reclassification issues.
Your Central Team
Your HPD 2014 Bargaining Team Members
Sandi Blancher, Chair, Local 106
Betty Palmieri, Vice-Chair, Local 206
Sara Labelle, Local 348
Yves Shank, Local 659
John Francis, Local 346
Brendan Kilcline, Local 444
Vince Gobind, Local 311
Paul Taylor, Negotiator
Rob Field, Senior Negotiator
Michèle Dawson Haber, Senior Research Officer
Authorized for distribution:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President