The Herald’s editorial team has come out against First Contract Arbitration. Their journalists will likely remain on the fence.
The Editors claim the legislation is fixing non-existent problems, a wasteful diversion, irresponsible, and possibly reckless. If that were true, why have both Jamie Baillie and Stephen McNeil admitted they would not repeal the law if they formed government?
We don’t expect to change the Editors’ view with this letter, but hope to counter the spin by corporate lobbyists and the back-room boys in the Conservative Party.
• FCA will be used rarely – that doesn’t mean it’s fixing non-existent problems. Some first contracts in Nova Scotia have taken several years to settle. Negotiations should not drag on that long. When something is not right, why count how many people are affected by the problem, instead of just fixing the problem?
• Bill 102 is only a “wasteful diversion” because the opposition have spent all their efforts on this one bill at the expense of all other issues. And they only do that because they are getting media coverage.
• First Contract Arbitration isn’t seen as being “reckless” by everyone. Read the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ review of FCA: Facts and Evidence versus Threats and Hyperbole: Dissecting Business’ Case Against First Contract Arbitration
You can also download the CCPA submission to the law amendments committee as a PDF. Why not give equal airtime to the supporters of the bill?
• The FCA process is reasonable:
A. Within two weeks of union certification – before negotiations begin — both parties will be contacted by a conciliator and offered information and training in the area of negotiating a first collective agreement.
B. If negotiations break down, either side can apply for a conciliator, a process that is mandatory for subsequent contract negotiations when the parties cannot resolve their differences.
C. If conciliation fails to broker an agreement, the conciliator will file a report with the Labour Board. At that point, a 14-day cooling off period begins.
D. Then, if there is still no agreement, either side can apply to the Labour Board for arbitration.
E. At this point, the employer and union can jointly select an arbitrator, who will work with the parties for up to 60 days to try and reach an agreement.
F: If the two sides can’t agree on an arbitrator within 60 days, the Labour Board will provide the parties with a contract in three days.
G. Alternately, the Labour Board could tell the two parties to resume negotiations – with or without a conciliator – for another 30 days.
H. If there’s still no agreement after 30 days, the Board will provide them with a one-year contract.
The effect of FCA legislation in Nova Scotia will be the same as in all other provinces – it will mean fewer lockouts and strikes. And labour stability is a good thing.