FAQs about AJC's Request for Arbitration * (Archived)
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Why did we request arbitration?
After numerous bargaining sessions with Treasury Board (“TB” or “Employer”) since the beginning of 2011, we reached an impasse. As a good faith bargaining partner, the AJC made every reasonable effort to reach a settlement. We made compromises by accepting several Treasury Board proposals. TB agreed to none of ours. When it became clear that we would not be able to reconcile our respective positions, the AJC Negotiations Team declared an impasse, which the Employer did not dispute. Thereafter, we filed our request with the Public Service Labour Relations Board (“PSLRB”).
What is the employer´s response to our request?
Treasury Board had asked the PSLRB to delay establishing an arbitration panel. They wanted to pursue mediation, which could have postponed the hearing.

However, we responded that the PSLRB could only delay the establishment of an arbitration board if the Chair was satisfied that the parties have not bargained “seriously and sufficiently” as to the matters in dispute. Therefore, it was our firm position that the arbitration board should be struck without further delay.

On November 15, the Chair of the PSLRB declined the employer`s request for mediation, and instead ordered that the arbitration board be established forthwith.
When will the arbitration be heard?
The Arbitration Board has confirmed the following hearing dates: May 29-30, 2012 for potential mediation of remaining less-contentious matters, and June 26-28, 2012 for the arbitration hearing itself. Written submissions in support of arbitration proposals are due on May 15, 2012, and will be posted on-line shortly thereafter.  The proceedings will take place in Ottawa at the Public Service Labour Relations Board, which is located 240 Sparks Street, on the 7th Floor of the C.D. Howe Building, West Tower.
Who sits on the arbitration board?
The arbitration board will be comprised of a three-person panel. The AJC and the Employer will each have a nominee, and then a Chair is jointly nominated by the parties´ nominees on agreement or appointed by the PSLRB, where the nominees are unable to agree.

The membership of the arbitration board will be confirmed in due course.
What are the Employer´s proposals?
The Employer is essentially proposing the same deal that the PSAC negotiated. The two essential elements of the PSAC settlement are as follows:

- On salaries, the Employer´s proposal is 1.5% for 2011-2012, 1.5% for 2012-2013 and 1.5% for 2013-2014.
- On severance pay, the Employer´s proposal is to terminate this benefit, retroactively to May 11, 2011, in exchange for a 0.75% wage increase, and pay-out options. (The employer´s original proposal for arbitration was to terminate severance pay in exchange for 0.5%, which was 0.25% less than what PSAC negotiated.)

Refusing to move on these elements, the Employer has dismissed:

a) the significant gains our provincial colleagues have negotiated as part of the exercise of setting competitive rates of pay for LAs, and
b) an independent actuarial report which pegs the value of eliminating severance pay for the LA bargaining unit at 1.75%

Instead, the Employer is offering meagre increases that won´t even match projected rises in cost of living over the next three years. The Employer is also seeking roll backs we were awarded on overtime and health and insurance benefits.
What are the AJC´s proposals?
The AJC is looking to secure gains in compensation that would close the salary gap between us and our provincial counterparts. We are also aiming to refine overtime, and achieve increases in other areas of compensation, including: performance pay, professional experience pay, vacation, career development, health and insurance benefits, and other types of paid leave.

Where is the salary gap widest between us and our provincial comparators?
The salary gap is at its widest in Ontario. An LA2A paid at the national rate caps out at 36% less than the equivalent working level CC2/CC3 level at Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. That works out to about a $65,000 difference.

About two-thirds of all LAs work in Ontario.

However, we are also behind at LA provincial counterpart working levels in British Columbia (26%), Alberta (15%), and Manitoba (16%).

Almost 90% of all LAs work in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba.
What kind of salary raises have our provincial comparators received recently?
In the last year, three provinces have settled with their government lawyers, providing for substantial gains to salaries.

- Quebec: a minimum of 17.9% salary increase through to 2014
- Manitoba: 10.8% salary increase through to 2013
- Alberta: 4% salary increase for 2012 alone
Could the proposals change before the arbitration hearing?
Our proposals have been informed by direct membership and staff input, and thoroughly considered by the AJC Negotiations Team. Existing proposals may be refined further in advance of the arbitration hearing.
What happens if Treasury Board introduces more restraint legislation against the public service?
We can´t say for certain whether Treasury Board will introduce more restraint legislation in the future.

We believe the successful ruling on our constitutional challenge to the Expenditure Restraint Act, which struck down 2006 wage controls applying to LAs, is a strong signal from the courts that the employer must take a fair and principled approach with the AJC.

If in the face of this ruling, Treasury Board were to legislate against the AJC´s members once more, this would significantly undermine the process of collective bargaining, and represent a serious affront to our ability to freely negotiate competitive base rates of pay.

We would fight any legislation that would infringe the rights of federal lawyers and prosecutors, as we have always done.
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