OTTAWA – The Compensation and Benefits Committee (C&B Committee) held its first sessions in Ottawa, August 11th and 12th.

The Committee Chair, Robert Loiselle, and the members of the C&B Committee (in alphabetical order) Raoul Andersen, Nicole Bishop-Tempke, Tony Bourque, Scott Chamberlain, (Negotiator), Karen Hall, Milt Isaacs, (ACFO Chair), Harry Kostiuk, John Leduc, Marie Immaculée Alphonse, Arjun Patil, Michael Peters, Nathalie Stella Tremblay, met over the two days to work on bargaining demands based on member feedback.

The following is a summary of the collective bargaining and binding arbitration process.

The Collective Bargaining Process – Public Service

STEP 1: Selection of Dispute Resolution Method (DRM)

The Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) provides a choice between two methods of resolving collective bargaining disputes: binding arbitration and conciliation/strike. ACFO has selected binding arbitration for this round of bargaining.

STEP 2: Essential Service Agreement

Because ACFO has selected binding arbitration as its DRM there is no requirement to negotiate essential service agreements with the departments.

STEP 3: Preparation for bargaining

Selecting the Compensation and Benefits Committee

The ACFO Board selects the C&B Committee from member volunteers and appoints a Chair.

Selecting the Collective Bargaining Team

The Board of Directors appoints the collective bargaining team with the assistance of recommendations from the C&B Committee.

The bargaining team is supported by the administrative, communications and labour relations services of the National Office and consultants as required by the ACFO Board.

Surveying the Membership

ACFO has conducted a membership survey to solicit bargaining demands and priorities and to collect important demographic and strategic information as needed.

The C&B Committee has reviewed the results of the survey and are currently integrating these suggestions into the bargaining proposals.

Preparing Collective Bargaining Demands

The bargaining team prepares the ACFO bargaining demands based on a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  • The results of the membership survey;
  • The report of the previous round of bargaining;
  • A review of the collective agreement of the other collective agreements negotiated by the other bargaining agents in the public service;
  • Analysis regarding comparator groups internal and external to the federal public service.

Terms and Conditions of employment that are provided for in legislation or National Joint Council Agreements are not subject to collective bargaining. For example the following matters cannot be bargained under the current framework:

  • Staffing;
  • Classification;
  • Pensions;
  • Income Tax Implications;
  • Health Care Plan;
  • Dental Plan;
  • Workforce Adjustment.

Preparing the Arbitration Brief

The goal of the Association is to negotiate an agreement in good faith at the bargaining table. However, while negotiations progress, groundwork for the preparation of the arbitration brief can begin, including any compensation research ACFO decides to commission.

STEP 4: Negotiations

The timing, location and structure of negotiations are subject to the agreement of the parties. All that is required by the Act is that the parties enter into negotiations and bargain in good faith.

Typically, negotiations start with an exchange of demands whereby the parties provide one another with a list of their bargaining demands followed by a presentation of an explanation and rationale for each demand.

After the demands are exchanged the parties attempt to negotiate conditional agreements on each demand.Some demands are accepted, some are amended and some are withdrawn as negotiations progress.

If the parties are able to negotiate every demand to their mutual satisfaction they reach what is known as a tentative agreement which is then presented to the ACFO Compensation and Benefits Committee. The C&B Committee then submits the tentative agreement to the ACFO Board with its recommendations.

If the ACFO Board accepts a tentative agreement, it recommends its acceptance to the bargaining unit and a ratification vote is held. If the ACFO does not accept the tentative agreement it can send the bargaining team back to the table.

Similarly a tentative agreement is also subject to treasury board approval.

If the parties reach a point where it is difficult to make any progress they may reach an impasse and request mediation.

STEP 5: Appointment of a Mediator

Either party may choose to request the services of a mediator. The Chairperson of the PSLRB may at any time, if requested to do so or on his or her own, appoint a mediator to confer with the parties to a dispute and to endeavour to assist them in settling the dispute.

Mediation is a voluntary process and the mediator assists the parties in reaching an agreement. Unlike an arbitrator, a mediator does not make any final decisions to resolve disputes between the parties.

STEP 6: Binding Arbitration

In the event that the negotiations reach impasse either party can refer the remaining bargaining issues to arbitration for a final and binding decision by an Arbitration Board.

The Arbitration Board can be made up of three (3) members or a single member depending on the agreement of the parties. If three (3) members are chosen each side selects one nominee and a joint selection is made for the third. The Chairperson of the PSLRB will appoint an arbitrator if the parties fail to agree.

The arbitration process proceeds much like other formal legal proceedings with each side preparing and presently a detailed arbitration brief with evidence supporting their respective demands and making oral arguments. The arbitration board determines the specifics of the procedure once it is appointed.

The Public Service Labour Relations Act requires that the Arbitration Board take the following factors into consideration in making an award:

148. Dans la conduite de ses séances et dans la prise de ses décisions, le conseil d’arbitrage prend en considération les facteurs qui, à son avis, sont pertinents et notamment :

  1. la nécessité d’attirer au sein de la fonction publique des personnes ayant les compétences voulues et de les y maintenir afin de répondre aux besoins des Canadiens;
  2. la nécessité d’offrir au sein de la fonction publique une rémunération et d’autres conditions d’emploi comparables à celles des personnes qui occupent des postes analogues dans les secteurs privé et public, notamment les différences d’ordre géographique, industriel et autre qu’il juge importantes; à la rémunération et aux autres conditions d’emploi, entre les divers échelons au sein d’une même profession et entre les diverses professions au sein de la fonction publique;
  3. la nécessité de maintenir des rapports convenables, quant à la rémunération et aux autres conditions d’emploi, entre les divers échelons au sein d’une même profession et entre les diverses professions au sein de la fonction publique;
  4. la nécessité d’établir une rémunération et d’autres conditions d’emploi justes et raisonnables compte tenu des qualifications requises, du travail accompli, de la responsabilité assumée et de la nature des services rendus;
  5. l’état de l’économie canadienne et la situation fiscale du gouvernement du Canada.

Once both sides have had an opportunity to present their cases the Arbitration Board is required by statute to reach a decision as soon as possible.

An arbitral award is final and binding on the parties and becomes annexed to the collective agreement.