The terms for a new Ontario Power Generation collective agreement have been set by an arbitrator. Handed down on December 3, the new agreement will run through December 31, 2023. Due to Premier Doug Ford’s Bill 124, the arbitrator was required to cap the economic wage increase at 1% for each of the two years covered by this decision.
“Other than for the economic increase awarded, your bargaining team is generally pleased with the items agreed to and the Arbitrators’ decision,” OPG Local Vice President Joe Fierro wrote to members on December 6. Fierro says that the Society was successful in pushing back against the company’s demands for concessions and was able to make progress on the priorities members identified in the pre-bargaining survey the local conducted.
The most significant development in the new contract are terms related to redeployment when Pickering Nuclear Generating Station begins decommissioning in 2025. The arbitrator’s decision modifies Article 64 of the Collective Agreement and largely defines the redeployment process, including how Society members affected by the Pickering closure will seek new roles within the company.
As well, the Local was able to secure a better compensation formula for those who exit OPG due to the Pickering closure. Though the maximum payout is lower, more people will qualify for greater compensation than they would have previously been eligible to receive. Members exiting with 20 or more years of service will receive 90 weeks’ pay while those with less service will have their compensation prorated based on their years of service.
The OPG Local also made gains on work-from-home language and overtime compensation. Letter of Understanding (LOU) 199 allows eligible members to work from home for up to two days per week. The LOU defines eligibility but it is generally the case that members who were able to work from home during the pandemic will also qualify under LOU 199. On overtime, the Society moved from compensation at 1.5x a member’s base rate for the first four hours of overtime to double time.
While Bill 124 capped wage increases at 1% per year, it also allows for modest increases to health and wellness benefits. Benefits improvements include fertility, vision, and orthotics care. There is also an improvement to maternity/parental leave.
Additionally, the OPG Local was able to secure the repatriation of work from New Horizons System Solutions to OPG. OPG had contracted out this IT work to an external company many years ago. Society members at NHSS will receive more details about the repatriation schedule next year, while the process will be completed no later than 2024.
In his decision, arbitrator Bill Kaplan acknowledged the OPG Local’s effort to be as creative as possible to maximize members’ gains under the restraints of Bill 124. However, the arbitrator ultimately decided against using the Society’s most creative proposals because he was concerned they would be rejected by the provincial government.
The OPG Local has already held member information sessions to provide further detail on the arbitrator’s award and answer any questions. An additional session is planned for January.
Members of the OPG Local Bargaining Team were: Local Vice President Joe Fierro, Unit Directors Susan Sloan, Tracey Widman, Mike Vacariu, Jim Mastorakos, Ed Hellier, Ralph Chatoor, Rebecca Caron and Ryan Reeson, and Staff Officers Sonia Pylyshyn, Kathryn Bell, Mary Byberg and Ruben Lindy.