Archives for January 1990

First Contract Arbitration in Ontario: An Evaluation of the Early Experience

Unions continue to face difficulties in obtaining first agreements, due largely to the conduct of employers. Previously, bad faith bargaining complaints have been raised against such employers, but the detection criteria and remedial response used by the Board have been inadequate in dealing with first contract situations.

As a result, in 1986 Ontario adopted first contract arbitration to more effectively address first agreement cases. An early evaluation of this procedure suggests that the remedy of first agreement arbitration is more easily accessible than in bad faith bargaining inquiries. There seems to be, however, a reluctance to employ the procedure, partly due to the administrative burden and expense faced by the unions. Nevertheless, for those that do apply, there is a deterrent effect which encourages the parties to settle more quickly and voluntarily, without the involvement of the Board.

It is too early to know if the imposition of a collective agreement encourages long-lasting relationships, but this also represents a very small proportion of first contract cases. The deterrent impact, therefore, is the more critical factor. Based on the Ontario experience thus far, in at least some cases the remedy has effectively countered employer reluctance to recognize the union.

First Contract Arbitration in Ontario: An Evaluation of the Early Experience

Employment Relations in the Unionized Labor Movement: A Comparative Analysis of Arbitration Cases in Ontario, 1971 to 1985

The institution of collective bargaining, central to public policy with respect to employment relations, requires a well functioning labour movement. There is evidence that labour organizations in the role of employer are subject to labour conflict which, if unresolved, threatens the collective bargaining regime. The survival of the movement is at risk in terms of its principles, credibility, and effectiveness as protector of the interests of the worker and promoter of social reform.

Despite its significance, there is little research into this critical employment relationship.

The present study outlines some external and internal pressures to which the movement is subject, and which are likely to translate into workplace tensions affecting the quality of the relationship. Many of them tend toward bureaucratization of union administration, a trend with both beneficial and deleterious potential. A tentative comparison is drawn with other work settings.

Arbitrations in the unionized union sector are compared with those in a sample of other settings in the province of Ontario from 1971 to 1985. The distributions of issues and outcomes for the two samples are presented and discussed. A review of cases on five major issues explores differences in the nature of the disputes.

Results suggest that arbitrations between unions and their employees account for a disproportionate number of cases, and include a higher ratio of procedural to substantive hearings than is generally found. The rate of occurrence of some issues as a percentage of total listings may be lower than for other employer-employee relationships. Both similarities and differences emerge from the descriptive review of cases. Numerical and qualitative differences found may be attributable to non-comparable occupations and working conditions between the samples.

Further research is recommended.

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Implementing Pay Equity in Ontario

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate issues in the implementation of pay equity, based on the experience of Ontario. The Ontario Act is considered as having the broadest scope of coverage of pay equity legislation, not only in Canada but in North America. This paper compares the Pay Equity Act of Ontario to other pieces of Canadian equal pay for work of equal value legislation, exploring the similarities and dissimilarities, highlighting the unique features and discussing the implications of various provisions.

A number of issues surround the implementation of pay equity legislation in Ontario. Based on information gathered from conferences, seminars, published documents and interviews with various employers, unions, advocacy groups, and the Pay Equity Commission, the issues discussed relate to the implementation process, the legislation, the role of the Pay Equity Commission, pay equity and collective bargaining and excluded women.

Despite the many issues and problems that the parties face in the implementation of pay equity, there have been a number of settlements that have been reached. Two of these success stories are summarized. As these and other cases are examined, the ability to settle in a timely manner can be attributed to several elements: earlier commencement, favourable labour-management relationships, favourable attitudes towards the premise of pay equity, and the choice of a gender-neutral comparison system. The general impact of pay equity legislation and negotiations have on labour-management relationships, inter-union relationships and intra-union relationships is also examined. This paper concludes with comments on whether Ontario’s equal pay for work of equal value legislation will work, that is, eliminate the portion of the wage gap that is attributed to the undervaluation of women’s work.

Download PDF: Implementing Pay Equity in Ontario

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