Wednesday, August 24, 2011

McGuinty: It's unwise to 'finagle' with interest arbitration

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario had a workshop on interest arbitration  at its annual  conference yesterday: Arbitration and the Ability to Pay”.  Municipalities use interest arbitration to settle collective bargaining disputes with police, firefighters, and, sometimes, paramedics.  

The municipalities, it seems, are not happy with interest arbitration. As one delegate said: "It's a cookie-cutter process and the cookies suck."

But then again, are employers ever happy? 

Workers also have to live in a cookie dough world -- but spend less time whining for caviar.  

In its report on the arbitration workshop, the London Free Press quotes Dalton McGuinty as stating that it would be "unwise" to "finagle with the arbitration system."  

That's a positive step forward.

Globe & Mail columnist Adam Radwanski had speculated in May that the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives would bend the arbitration process to favour employers. (The Progressive Conservatives, of course, have now threatened to do just that in their election policy book.)

Hospital and long term care employees are required by law to settle contract disputes through interest arbitration.  After fighting off an attempt by the last Progressive Conservative government to bias the interest arbitration process in favour of employers, OCHU and Ontario hospitals have been able to freely bargain the last four central collective agreements. 

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