Bargaining Update 19: THE AJC HAS ITS “DAY IN COURT” :: Association of Justice Counsel News
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October 27th, 2017
October 27th, 2017
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Bargaining Update 19: THE AJC HAS ITS “DAY IN COURT”

Final Binding Conciliation Hearing Concluded October 25th 2017

At long last, our hearing took place on October 25th 2017 as scheduled before a panel of three “conciliators” who will make a binding decision that will be constitute our arbitral award.  We were pleased to see a few AJC members attend, to listen in on the proceedings.

For those of you who were not able to attend we are providing a link below to the documents that were relied on in the proceedings as well as a summary of the hearing.

The issues argued before the panel were, for the AJC:  pay, management leave, travel time, leave while on travel status and standby duty.  Treasury Board argued for changes to the performance pay regime.

Treasury Board had indicated that all the collective agreements that have been implemented this round have followed the same pattern:  an economic increase of 1.25% per year for 4 years plus a market adjustment of some kind in year 3.  Notwithstanding that TB conceded that market disparity alone was a sufficient basis for a significant market adjustment, it took the position, based partly on its own pay study conducted by Deloitte & Touche, that federal lawyers were adequately compensated.  It proposed a market adjustment of 1% in addition to the economic increases.

The AJC took issue with many of Deloitte´s conclusions that were necessary to arrive at the conclusion that we are not underpaid.  Most remarkably, Deloitte found that there is no comparator in the province of Ontario for the LP2 working-level classification.  It also used a straight-line average, rather than a weighted average, of provincial comparators giving pay scales in provinces like New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where few federal lawyers work, the same weight as pay scales in Ontario, where more than half of all federal lawyers work.

The AJC felt that the Deloitte report has serious methodological flaws.  It is worth noting that Treasury Board itself delayed providing its report to the AJC because of serious methodological flaws, and although they refused to share the earlier drafts with us, we have no doubt the “flaws” were related to job matching.  

The AJC commissioned its own pay study by Salopek and Associates.  Using conventional methods such as matching job descriptions (rather than Deloitte´s decision to create “job capsules”), Salopek found, not surprisingly, that there were indeed lawyers in Ontario at the working level.  Salopek used a weighted average in comparing our provincial equivalents and concluded that federal lawyers were significantly underpaid at all levels.  Based on this data, the AJC sought a market adjustment upwards of 15% in addition to the economic increase of 1.25% per year.

The Employer opposed all our other requests and asked the Chair to award changes to our pay for performance plan that they raised at the last minute. We invite members to read the submissions made by the AJC and Treasury Board (links found below) on these issues.

You may recall that at the beginning of the bargaining round, members were surveyed on their priorities and this survey formed the basis of the Negotiation Team´s decision to target and focus on certain priorities.  It is unfortunately impossible to bargain every issue, each round.  However, we did make some progress earlier in the process on minor issues.  An agreement was reached on an expanded definition of family in three different provisions of the collective agreement. Bereavement leave now includes step-brothers and step-sisters.  Grandchildren are now included in the definition of family for the purposes of long-term family leave, and, most significantly, the 5 days of paid family leave will now include step-siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, as well as any other relative for whom we have a duty of care, regardless of where they reside. We also agreed to add gender identity and gender expression to the non-discrimination clause.  Finally, sick leave will no longer be deducted from earned service for severance pay calculations.

Given the pressures of Phoenix and the pattern in the rest of the public service agreements, the AJC has agreed to give Treasury Board 120 days to implement the changes once the award is made. We are hopeful for a decision before Christmas, but of course have no control over the timing of the order, which is entirely in the Board´s hands.

Nor do we have any control over the results.  However, we are extremely proud of the professionalism and the preparedness of our entire team throughout the process and especially at the October 25th hearing.

I personally want to thank every member of the negotiations team for their tireless dedication. As well, our gratitude goes out to each and every one of our members for your unyielding patience during this long process.  Finally, I would like to thank our excellent counsel, Dougald Brown and Chris Rootham, for their sage advice and their skill.

In solidarity,


Ursula Hendel
President
Association of Justice Counsel


The October 25th hearing referred to documents previously submitted by the parties. Please find the links to these documents below:

AJC Outline of Argument
AJC Conciliation Brief
Salopek Report signed (Jill Sullivan) June 16, 2017
AJC Reply Submission # 592-02-02
Employer´s Wage Comparability Study
Employer´s response to AJC brief 2017.doc

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