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Nurses Awarded Nice Raise in Interest Arbitration Award

Some 45,000 registered nurses employed at 137 Ontario hospitals have received a nice raise in a just released interest arbitration award.  The award was on consent, which means the union and the employer agreed to the terms and then asked the arbitration board to issue an award including those terms.  This bargaining took place under the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act, which governs bargaining disputes in the hospital sector and refers them to arbitration rather than the usual strike/lockout process available for most other unionized workers.

The consent arbitration award  (here it is) grants a lump sum raise to the nurses in years 1 and 2 which does not go to their base pay.  In year 3, the Award grants a 2.75 percent raise across the Board, as well as a variety of other improvements to various benefits.  This might piss off the Liberal government yet again.  The government had requested that public sector workers receive no raises, yet arbitrators have mostly ignored that request for reasons I discussed in this earlier post about a 2.3% raise awarded to University of Toronto professors by arbitrator Martin Teplitsky. The police in Toronto just bargained a 3.2 percent raise for this year, 3 percent for the next 2 years, and then 2 % in 2014.  That was not an interest arbitration award, but the City of Toronto explained that an arbitrator would have awarded at least that, so that it made sense to just agree.  The province of Ontario just passed a law that will send bargaining disputes for all TTC workers to the same interest arbitration process.

The Ontario government froze the wages of nonunion workers, yet unionized workers have considered to receive raises through collective bargaining or interest arbitration.

Do you think that this is unfair?  If so, is the solution to pass a law banning all raises for both unionized and nonunionized government workers?

Would that be a good human resources management policy?

Should the policy be to award nonunion public sector workers whatever the unionized public sector workers receive, sort of like how Toyota (nonunion) closely follows the unionized wages bargained at Ford and General Motors?

Would a legislated wage freeze withstand a Charter challenge?


2 Responses to Nurses Awarded Nice Raise in Interest Arbitration Award

  1. Andy Reply

    June 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

    1 & 4. Banning governmnet workers from raises would probably lead to a Charter challenge. It would probably be challenged under section 15 – Equality before and under law and equal protection and benefit of law. It would probably stand a Charter challenge, given the current climate of the Supreme Court.

    2. I don’t think any “bans” is good HR managment policy. I do think, however, that in this case, arbitrators are doing whatever they deemed fair without due consideration of taxpayers. They forget that public service doesn’t drive the economy, rather the private sector does. By increasing burdens on taxpayers, it does not help move the economy forward. A stronger private sector would probably mean a stronger public service as well because people can afford it.

    3. I think that this is already being done in most cases.

  2. Alison Reply

    September 27, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    It’s constantly said “We have to pay good money for good people”. However this is when the Hospitals are referring to comments about the ridiculous salaries and compensation packages they provide for they’re CEO’s and upper management. Kudos! To Mr Kaplan for finally recognizing the “Good people”……..

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