September 20, 2019
Arbitrator rules against union in FreshCo decision

In August we posted on the the decision of arbitrator McPhilips to choose the Company proposal with respect to the FOS hearing on the FreshCo wage scales. We have reviewed the decision with Legal counsel and have been visiting the FreshCo locations to discuss the decision with members.

In our submission, Local 247 argued that in the Local 1518 Agreement Mr. Ready left the door open for the parties themselves concerning wages.  We believe he did this in the Note found under the wage tables in Section D at page 47 of his Award where he states that “I leave it to the parties to streamline the wage grid to deal with off-scale rates and increases”. While we believed that that the wage scale imposed by Special Officer Ready should be considered during our negotiations, we did not agree with the Employer position that should Local 247 achieve a higher scale it would be “a risk to labour relations stability".
Part of our argument was based on other settlements we believed to be relevant to our bargaining, specifically a FreshCo agreement negotiated in Manitoba, and recent No Frills settlements. These agreements contained combinations of higher end rates, additional steps in the wage progressions and in some cases, yearly increases. We proposed an additional step in the part time wage scale resulting in a higher top rate, as well as an anniversary lump sum payment for full and part time members. We felt this would supplement the scale and was a reasonable and fair solution.

Unfortunately we were unsuccessful. We have reviewed the decision to determine if the ruling should be appealed, but we concluded due to the nature of the issues and the limited grounds for an appeal that an appeal is unlikely to succeed.  We are obliged to accept the arbitrator's decision and wait until future rounds of collective bargaining to negotiate improvements in the agreement.