United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) will immediately launch a court appeal of a technical decision issued on June 5 by the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) saying it does not have legal jurisdiction in a union application to quash an arbitrator’s ruling that arbitration of the wage reopener in UNA’s collective agreement with Alberta Heath Services (AHS) can be delayed beyond the date the parties agreed to in the collective agreement.
The Board ruled UNA must apply to the courts to overturn the arbitrator’s original decision, which the union believes is a clear violation of the terms of its collective agreement with AHS and therefore is beyond the powers of the arbitrator, said the union.
“We are filing with the courts immediately,” said David Harrigan, UNA labour relations director. “Realistically though, it’s unlikely this would be heard by a court for more than a year, making a mockery of attempts to uphold the terms of our legal contract.”
At this time, resumption of arbitration of the wage reopener is still scheduled to go ahead on July 2 or 3 and 8, said Harrigan.
The ALRB heard UNA’s arguments in the expedited hearing on May 31, said UNA.
AHS bargaining representatives informed UNA and arbitrator David Jones on May 15 they had been instructed by the provincial government to put the arbitration on hold. Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews confirmed the same day that it was the government’s intent to do so, said the union.
UNA’s current agreement, which expires on March 31, 2020, is with AHS, Covenant Health, Lamont Heath Care Centre and the Bethany Group (Camrose). UNA’s agreement says 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, said UNA.
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