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Lock Talk #24 – Arbitration Award Implementation Update

Since the arbitration award was released on December 4, 2023, for the Correctional Bargaining Unit, the Employer and Union have met three times to discuss implementation of the award. A further meeting is scheduled for February 13, 2024. Here is a brief update on the status of various aspects of the implementation of the award.

Wage Adjustments

All classifications EXCEPT Nurses

The parties have reviewed and agreed to the new wage rates for all classifications, with the exception of nurse classifications (see below). This includes the general wage increases for 2022 (3%), 2023 (3.5%), and 2024 (3%), as well as the special adjustment in 2022 (1%) for Correctional Officers (including Correctional Supervisors), Youth Workers, and Probation Officers/Probation and Parole Officers.

At this time the Employer is targeting one of the payroll runs in March 2024 to implement the new wage rates for active employees as noted above. This would place all classifications, except nurse classifications, at the correct rate of pay for 2024. Once the new rate of pay is implemented, the next payroll run will have retro payments for the majority of active employees. The following several pay runs will be used by the Employer for any corrections that are required.

Once active employee wages and retro payments are finalized, the Employer will then implement retro payments for inactive employees.

Wage Adjustments – Nurse Classifications

This section applies to all Nurse classifications including:

  • Registered Practical Nurse 1-4
  • Nurse 1, General
  • Nurse 2, General
  • Nurse 3, General
  • Mental Health Nurse
  • Nurse Practitioner

The parties have reviewed and agreed to the new wage rates for nurse classifications for the January 1, 2022 and January 1, 2023 increases. Discussions remain ongoing between the union and employer regarding wage rates for nurse classifications as directed by the arbitrator based on new wage grid that was awarded for the Nurse 2, General classification.

To avoid any confusion with application of the new wage rates, the Employer has indicated that the April 1, 2023 and January 1, 2024 adjustments for all nurse classifications will occur at a later date, once the new wages for all the nurse classifications are finalized. This will streamline implementation by payroll services and avoid any errors. The Employer is targeting one of the payroll runs in March 2024 to implement the new wage rates for active employees in nurse classifications to place employees at the correct rate of pay as of January 1, 2023. The next payroll run will have retro payments for the majority of active employees. The following several pay runs will be used by the Employer for any corrections that are required.

A timeline for wage implementation for nurse classifications for the April 2023 and January 2024 adjustments will be provided following agreement on the new wage rates, including retro payments for those periods.

Salary Schedules

The salary schedule for 2021-2024 can be reviewed using this link: OPSEU COR Salary Schedules 2021-2024 – Corrections.

Updated salary schedules for nurse classifications will be provided once the new wage rates are finalized.

Experience Credit for Nurses – LOU

The Employer has indicated they are reviewing implementation for the new Letter of Understanding on Experience Credit for Nurses. Details on the process to make the request for this adjustment will be provided when available.

At this time, any nurse that will be applying for this credit is encouraged to contact their previous employers to obtain a letter confirming the number of hours worked while employed, and to gather any other documentation regarding previous employment experience as a nurse.

Benefits

Fact Sheets on the benefit changes were published by the Employer last week. These Fact Sheets were not finalized by the Union prior to being sent to the field, and several changes are being made to clarify notations. Updated Fact Sheets should be available shortly.

For changes to the Supplemental Health and Hospital benefits, Manulife has implemented the following changes:

  • Psychological benefit improvements, including removal of the session cap, increase to the annual maximum for employees and dependents, and addition of psychotherapist coverage
  • Paramedical services improvements to increase the session cap to $35 for applicable services
  • Vision coverage improvement to increase the 24-month maximum to $400

While the new $300 Health Care Spending Account is available as of January 1, 2024, the claim process for online claims is still under development by Manulife. Implementation updates for claims made online will be provided at a later date and members will be able to submit claims for expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2024.

The Administrative Changes to the prescription drug coverage of the plan are slated for implementation on March 1, 2024. These changes include:

  • Implementation of a prior authorization program
  • Enhanced mandatory generic substitution
  • Establishment of a dispensing fee cap for prescription drugs of $11.99 per prescription
  • Implementation of annual dispensing fee cap to 5 times per calendar year for maintenance drugs.
  • Implementation of Manulife Drug Watch Program
  • Specialty Drug Care Program
  • Changes to Injectable Vitamin B6/B12 Coverage

FXT Benefits

The one-time opt-in for is open from February 2 to March 4, 2024. If you are a fixed-term employee and were employed on December 4, 2023 (date of the arbitration award), you now have the opportunity to opt into benefits. Fixed-term employees remain responsible for 100% of the premiums.

There are two forms to complete – one for Supplemental Health and Hospital coverage, and a second one for Dental coverage. Please ensure these forms are submitted by the March 4, 2024 deadline in order to enroll in the benefit packages. Coverage will effective April 1, 2024 for any eligible expenses incurred on or after that date.

Military Service Leave

The parties remain in discussion on implementation of the enhancements to the current Military Service Leave language.

Pregnancy Parental Leave

Changes to Pregnancy and Parental leave are scheduled to be implemented for any leaves that begin on or after March 3, 2024. These changes include changes to the waiting period, and changes to the maximum benefit for regular and regular part-time employees who opt for the extended leave.

There are no changes for those currently on a Pregnancy or Parental leave, or those who being a leave prior to March 3, 2024.

Recruitment and Staffing, Article 6, 56, New Appendix on Reach-back and Appendix 39

Discussions on implementation to these changes remain ongoing between the parties. Updates will be provided when available.

Collective Agreement Editing

Editing of the Collective Agreement will begin in the near future. Once a final version is agreed-to by the parties it will be made available electronically and then printed copies distributed to the field.

Questions and Follow-up

Your Correctional Bargaining Team has now fulfilled their elected mandate with the arbitrated award. The email address correctionsOPSBargaining@opseu.org will no longer be monitored. If you have any questions regarding implementation of the new Collective Agreement please contact your Local President.

In solidarity,

Janet Laverty, Bargaining Team Chair
Adam Cygler, Bargaining Team Vice-Chair