May 3, 2012
After months of preparation, the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) appeared before arbitrator John Hall last Monday to argue an application for interim relief in a policy grievance that alleges HEABC is in contravention of the 2010-2012 HSPBA collective agreement for failing or refusing to work towards the objectives agreed to in bargaining.
But the arbitrator adjourned the hearing because HEABC claimed, for the second time, it was not ready to defend allegations it is violating the terms of the 2010-2012 collective agreement, as a result of current collective bargaining.
Justin Schmid, CUPE National Representative and a member of the Bargaining Committee, said the delay is uncalled for and shows the employers’ disregard for the processes negotiated in the previous contract.
A policy grievance, which included a claim for interim relief, was filed by the unions in November. Employers were notified three weeks ago that the unions would be seeking interim relief on April 23. They claim that they were not given enough time to prepare.
“The HSPBA is as busy with contract negotiations as HEABC is. But we’re not about to abandon our responsibility to hold HEABC accountable to terms and conditions negotiated in the last agreement, even as we work to make progress on a new collective agreement for 2012 and beyond,” Schmid said.
HSPBA charges that the employer is refusing to adhere to the terms and conditions negotiated in the 2010-2012 agreement by failing or refusing to work towards fulfillment of the objectives outlined for the Joint Classifications Committee, negotiated in that agreement.
The union association believes that health authorities are prohibited from implementing any of the interim classification modifications because the right to do so was conditional upon the Joint Classifications Committee fulfilling its objectives.
While the union bargaining association worked diligently on finding creative and innovative ways to approach the classification system, HEABC did not reciprocate. Instead, health authorities moved straight to implementation of the interim modifications, which triggered loss of access to supervision, and a downgrade of grid level for certain members – affecting their pay level.
“The union’s agreement to modify grid levels was contingent on a real and workable commitment to overhauling the classification system. HEABC refused to be productive in that area. That’s unacceptable, and it is completely contrary to the agreement,” Schmid said.
The grievance hearing was rescheduled to be heard at the end of June.
Bargaining for a new collective agreement resumes this week.