New precedent set in arbitration decision at Birchwood Terrace
In an interest arbitration decision issued on January 30, 2017, Arbitrator Dana Randall established a new precedent which will help improve the lives of UFCW members working in the health care industry.
Local 175 represents the health care workers at Birchwood Terrace, a nursing home in Kenora. Because these members do not have the right to strike, any differences that remain unresolved during collective bargaining are referred to a board of arbitration for a final and binding decision as provided for in the Hospital Labour Disputes Arbitration Act (HLDAA).
Arbitrator Randall’s decision covers the two-year period between June 22, 2015 and June 21, 2017.
During negotiations, the employer and Union had agreed to wage increases of 1.5% in 2015, and 1.3% in 2016. These increase are in line with increases seen in the nursing home sector across the province.
The Union, however, also demanded an increase to the employer’s contributions to the Member’s benefit plan (the Union’s trusteed plan).
In previous arbitrations where the Union had sought both wage and benefit contribution increases, the combined total of those increases never exceeded what would be considered ‘in line’ with industry averages. So, for example, if the average increase was 1.5%, the wage and benefit contribution increase combined would only come to 1.5% with a portion of it going toward each.
Arbitrator Randall disagreed with this approach and didn’t see the justification in sacrificing a wage increase that’s in line with the industry to award an increase to the benefit plan. He awarded the Members the agreed-to wage increases of 1.5% and 1.3%, plus .5% toward the Benefit Trust Fund.
“We’re encouraged that Arbitrator Randall saw it fit to award the Members the benefit increase in addition to their wage increases,” said President Haggerty. “This marks an important step for our Members in the health care field, and we hope to see more decisions like this in the future.”