The Alberta Labour Relations Board this morning agreed to an expedited hearing into United Nurses of Alberta’s application to quash the arbitrator’s ruling that arbitration of the wage reopener in UNA’s collective agreement with Alberta Heath Services be delayed.
The hearing is now scheduled for May 31. AHS has until May 24 to respond to the application.
AHS bargaining representatives informed UNA and arbitrator David Jones on Friday afternoon that they had been instructed by the provincial government to put the arbitration on hold. Finance Minister Travis Toews confirmed yesterday that it was the government’s intent to do so.
Arbitrator David Jones granted the employer’s request for a delay beyond the date specified in UNA’s Provincial Collective Agreement.
UNA argues that the decision went beyond the powers granted to arbitrators in Alberta law. The Alberta Labour Relations Code specifically forbids an arbitrator from amending or changing the terms or conditions of the collective agreement.
In addition, UNA has filed grievances against AHS and other employers involved in the negotiations saying their actions meet the legal definition of bargaining in bad faith. “The bargaining representatives of our members’ employers are obviously not making the decisions in bargaining as required by law, the Government of Alberta is,” UNA Labour Relations Director David Harrigan said yesterday.
A wage reopener allows only the wage portion of the agreement to be reopened for negotiation while all other parts of the contract remain in place.
UNA’s current agreement, which expires on March 31, 2020, is with Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, Lamont Heath Care Centre and the Bethany Group (Camrose). UNA’s agreement states that in the event no agreement is reached in bargaining, an arbitration hearing into the wage reopener must be held no later than June 30, 2019.
For more information, contact:
David Harrigan, Director of Labour Relations, United Nurses of Alberta, 780-425-1025