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Standing up for members: new arbitration decisions

Two recent arbitration decisions have had an impact on Society members, one for good and another that shows how members’ collective agreements still have room for improvement.

The Society was on the losing end of a decision about how Bruce Power conducts its selection process for a vacant job. The Society’s position is that its members at Bruce Power should get first dibs on a job that is vacant within The Society’s bargaining unit. The company resisted and ultimately won.

Society Staff Representative Greg Spencer, who services the Bruce Power Local, is worried that this decision gives management too much power to use favouritism in the hiring process.

“We continue to be concerned that management will skew the results in favour of a PWU represented employee when it suits their interests,” said Spencer. “We need to strengthen our collective agreement language to ensure our members are treated fairly.”

On the winning side, the OPG Local was successful in its effort to give members more flexibility in the way they use and accumulate their sick leave, which will allow sick members to take home more money.
In some cases, a member on sick leave may run out of sick leave credits. At that point, the member could consider going on long-term disability (LTD). However, LTD means a member would only receive a smaller portion of their usual pay. The arbitrator upheld The Society’s interpretation of the OPG Local’s collective agreement, which, means that members who were hired before January 2001 have some flexibility that could allow them to structure their sick leave in a financially advantageous way. Instead of taking lower pay on LTD, in some cases a member could be better off taking some unpaid sick leave when their paid sick leave runs out until they accumulate more sick days, as an employee normally would. The newly accumulated sick days are then paid at the higher rate of pay rather than the lower LTD rate.