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Lock Talk 8: Bargaining to Resume – Prepping for Mediation

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Your Correctional Bargaining Team is preparing to return to the table after negotiations paused because of the provincial election. The Employer stepped away from the table when the election campaign began in early May.

The Employer returns to the table with a re-elected Conservative government at the helm. The government has given no indication that it intends to move away from Bill 124, the legislation that limits compensation for new Collective Agreements, whether negotiated or arbitrated, to one per cent a year for a three-year moderation period. Other unions (e.g., the teachers) are also starting bargaining in the fall, however many have served their three-year moderation period under Bill 124 and are no longer held to the one per cent restriction.

The Charter challenge against Bill 124 is set to begin hearings next month. The Bargaining Team is aware of the Charter challenge and has presented compensation re-opener language should the challenge be successful.

Before the pause in bargaining, the parties exchanged final offers. The Bargaining Team’s proposals included a focus on language improvements attempting to close gaps identified in the demand set, increases to benefits and wages as allowed under Bill 124, and a focus on the top non-monetary demands identified in the demand set results. Despite the draconian legislation under Bill 124 that puts our members way behind the current rate of inflation, the Employer’s proposals included attacks and concessions on your sick time, compensating time off, fixed-term scheduling, the ability to use accumulated statutory leave, further limits to the Union’s entitlements under Appendix COR10 (electronic surveillance), and minimal improvements to our benefits package.

The next step in the bargaining process is for the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skill Development to appoint a conciliator who will attempt to bring the parties closer to a negotiated agreement. If a conciliator is unable to work out an agreement with the parties, the Minister of Labour Training and Skills Development will commonly issue a “no-board” report to the parties. In the case of the Correctional Bargaining Unit, which is not allowed to strike, a no-board report will generally clear the way to proceed with interest arbitration.

The parties are also pursuing an alternate path to obtain a settlement. Your bargaining team has lined up mediator William Kaplan for September 17 and 18, 2022. Mr. Kaplan is quite familiar with the issues within the Corrections Division as he was the mediator who assisted the parties to achieve our most recent Collective Agreement. We are hopeful that mediation will pressure the Employer to focus on our proposals regarding language and benefit improvements, seeing that Bill 124 has already limited our ability to negotiate compensation issues. The Bargaining Team continues to work with lawyer Nini Jones in preparing for the mediation session. Ms. Jones played a key role in the gains achieved in the last round of bargaining. The Bargaining Team will be meeting in Toronto starting the week of September 12 to begin preparing for the mediation session.

We are hopeful that one of these two separate processes will produce a strong and fair Collective Agreement. But if a settlement doesn’t emerge, the parties have agreed to have Mr. Kaplan as the arbitrator to hear both parties on outstanding issues and make a final and binding written award.

Stay tuned to events at your local worksite in September to show your support of the Correctional Bargaining Team.

In Solidarity,

Your Correctional Bargaining Team