Home|Conferences & Workshops|Bargaining in the Broader Public Sector Conference - Vancouver


Bargaining in the Broader Public Sector Conference

 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 1


Economic Update 2018: Pipelines, Politics, and Profits – What's in store for BC's economy?

9:10 AM - 10:30 AM

Panelists

Douglas Dykens
Director of Field Services and Negotiations
British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union
Jacquie Griffiths
Director, Regional Employers Services
Metro Vancouver
Jeremy Higgs
Executive Director and Chief Labour Market Economist, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training
Government of British Columbia

Panel Summary

The global economy has largely recovered from the "great recession," and despite conflict over pipeline expansion and uncertainty regarding Canada-US trade, the B.C. economy has continued to experience "solid" growth. Unemployment, both in Canada and across developed nations, is lower than it has been at any time since 1980. Yet, this era of economic growth and low unemployment is characterized by what the OECD has called "unprecedented wage stagnation." Will these trends continue? Is "wageless growth" the future? In this session, economic and collective bargaining experts will provide answers to these questions and guidance on adapting bargaining to economic developments. Particular attention will be paid to addressing the Metro Vancouver "affordability gap," i.e. the large disconnect between wage increases and the increase in the cost of living, especially housing.

  • What do the key economic indicators signal for the short- and long-term economic situation in British Columbia and Canada? What factors are driving/slowing economic growth? What are the main risks to continued economic prosperity?
  • What is the state of BC public finances? What factors – for example, general economic conditions, federal government policies, the U.S. government's tax and trade policies – have the most influence on the government's current fiscal capacity?
  • What is the status of, and outlook for, the labour market in British Columbia and in Canada as a whole? Have wages in BC and Canada stagnated in the midst of economic prosperity as they have elsewhere in the world? Why? Or why not?
  • How are current economic conditions likely to influence bargaining in the broader public sector?
  • What trends can be identified in recent settlements in broader public sector negotiations? How do these trends compare to developments in the private sector?
  • How is the affordability gap affecting employment in Vancouver, especially the ability to attract and retain employees? Is affordability becoming a concern outside Vancouver?
  • How do concerns about affordability manifest themselves at the bargaining table? What can unions and employers do to address those concerns?
  • Do recently negotiated settlements meet the government's "core priorities" of making living more affordable, improving services for people, and investing in a sustainable economy?

BREAK (with refreshments)

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 2


The Future of Work: Bargaining provisions that address precarious jobs, automation, increased stress, and reduced security

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Panelists

Lesley Burke-O'Flynn
Staff Representative and Advocate, Labour Relations
Federation of Post-Secondary Educators
Sylvia Fuller
Associate Professor of Sociology
University of British Columbia
Jeremy Higgs
Executive Director and Chief Labour Market Economist, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training
Government of British Columbia
Paul Mochrie
Deputy City Manager
City of Vancouver

Panel Summary

Demographic shifts, technological change and globalization are driving change in workplaces throughout the world at an unprecedented pace and scale. At the same time, the organization of work has changed. Workers in Canada are now more likely to be in "non-standard" types of employment, which run the gamut from part-time and contract work to "uberized" work-on-demand. In this important panel experts will provide insight into how the workplace will change in the coming decade and point out practical steps broader public sector unions and employers can take to adapt to the evolving labour market. Specific issues to be addressed include:

  • What does the current broader public sector labour market look like as a whole? What types of jobs characterize this sector, what skills are required? What are the demographics? How is this picture changing? What is the broader public sector likely to look like in 2030?
  • How might demographic change alter employer and union priorities at the bargaining table? Do work-life balance provisions take on increased importance given the aging population, the increased participation of women in the workplace, and women's roles as primary caregivers for both children and elders? What types of practices facilitate retention of older workers? Is it discriminatory to limit flexible work arrangements to older workers who may be "easing into retirement," without offering the same opportunities to younger workers?
  • Are the interests of older workers who wish to continue working and those of younger workers entering the workforce increasingly in conflict? If so, how does that conflict play out in bargaining? What are the effects of two-tier agreements, i.e. those that provide for different wages, benefits or job security provisions for established employees than for new employees? Are they becoming less acceptable? Are there alternatives?
  • How is technological change affecting work in the broader public sector? Are machines replacing people? Are technological advances intensifying work? Is it permitting work in this sector to be contracted out or "uberized"? Is it possible to negotiate contract language that effectively addresses the type of technological change we are likely to see in the next five to ten years?
  • How is the organization of work changing in the broader public sector? Is "non-standard employment" becoming more common in the public sector? Are practices such as privatization, contracting-out, outsourcing and "contract-flipping" making employment in the broader public sector more precarious? Are such practices actually cost-efficient? Do they become less economically attractive when turn-over costs and the potential costs of decreased employee morale and productivity are factored in?
  • Can workplace psychological health and safety be adequately addressed without addressing issues of precarity and intensification of work?

NETWORKING LUNCH

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 3


Modernizing B.C.'s Labour Relations Code: An update from the Review Panel

1:00 PM - 1:45 PM

Panelists

Sandra Banister
Union Counsel
Banister & Company
Barry Dong
Employer Counsel
Harris & Company

Panel Summary

With the workplace landscape changing significantly since the Labour Relations Code was last revised 16 years ago, a review was ordered to ensure that the legislation addresses the current needs of employers, unions, and workers. While the terms of reference were very broad, the panel is expected to consider measures relating to the use of card-based certification, disclosure of employee lists and contact information, and the scope of acceptable employer communications. In this session, members from the Review Panel will discuss their findings and set out their key recommendations to modernize the legislation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 4


Charter Briefing: The latest cases on essential services, wage restraints, damages, and other issues

1:50 PM - 2:30 PM

Panelists

Craig Bavis
Union Counsel
Victory Square Law Office
Jennifer Perry
Director of Legal Services
Health Employers Associaton of British Columbia

Panel Summary

Our understanding of the scope of the Charter's guarantee of freedom of association has evolved significantly since the Supreme Court of Canada released its labour trilogy in 2015. The parameters of the s.2(d) protection continue to be fleshed out as unions challenge government actions that potentially undermine meaningful collective bargaining. In this session, seasoned lawyers will review recent Charter challenges to back-to-work legislation, essential services designations, and wage restraint measures and discuss their impact on broader public sector bargaining in this province, addressing issues such as:

  • In the wake of the 2015 labour trilogy, what constitutional constraints are placed on a government's ability to declare services "essential," removing workers' right to strike? What impact, if any, has the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Saskatchewan Federation of Labour had upon British Columbia's essential services regime?
  • What role has the provincial government been playing in recent negotiations in the broader public sector? What role should it play to encourage freely negotiated collective agreements? What types of legislative restraints on or interventions in bargaining will survive Charter scrutiny?
  • What approach have courts taken in deciding whether to award Charter damages? What are some other remedies that have been ordered in response to government interference with collective bargaining? Does the Supreme Court of Canada's order in British Columbia Teachers' Federation and the Ontario government's settlement with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Federation signal a greater willingness to impose remedies other than declaratory relief?
  • What is the status of current Charter challenges to wage restraint and back-to-work legislation?

BREAK (with refreshments)

2:30 PM - 2:45 PM

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 5


Keeping Insured Benefits Within Reach: Negotiating benefits in an era of rising costs

2:45 PM - 4:00 PM

Panelists

Dennis Blatchford
Pensions and Benefits Advocate
Health Sciences Association of British Columbia
Mike Greschner
Actuary
George & Bell Consulting
Michael Law
Canada Research Chair in Access to Medicines & Associate Professor, School of Population and Public Health
University of British Columbia
Darren Sander
Executive Director, Human Resources, Total Rewards
Alberta Health Services

Panel Summary

Increased utilization rates, a rising number of claimants, increased drug prices, and the development of new high-cost medications are driving the cost of insured health benefits upwards. In order to contain these rising costs, employers may pursue options such as capping reimbursement levels and cost-sharing agreements that increase out-of-pocket expenses for employees, or they may favour generic substitution policies and more limited formularies that reduce employee access to medication. Is there another option? Can employers and unions work together at the bargaining table to come up with creative new approaches to provide quality drugs, and other insured health benefits, in a cost-effective manner? In this panel experts will provide guidance on doing exactly that. Specific issues to be addressed include:

  • What information about drug and benefit plan costs do workplace parties need to develop cost-effective insured benefits that meet the needs of employees? What are they legally entitled to receive during collective bargaining?
  • What are the implications of the new provincial employer health tax for collective bargaining?
  • What roles do different interested parties (employers, unions, insurance companies, pharmacies, healthcare providers, etc.) have to play in providing sustainable insured health benefits? What strategies can be adopted to facilitate better communication between employers, unions, and insurance providers regarding employee drug benefit coverage and other insured benefits?
  • How might the changing demographics of the workplace alter the cost of insured benefits? How should the parties deal with utilization rates of benefits, so as not to over or underestimate the cost of providing a benefit to employees?
  • Will adjudicators in British Columbia follow the lead of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario's Talos decision, which held that legislative provisions that permit age-based distinctions in benefit and insurance plans for employees aged 65 and over are unconstitutional? If so, how should parties address the change in the legal landscape at the bargaining table? What are the cost implications of providing insured benefits to employees over 65?
  • What are the pros and cons of negotiating language regarding generic or therapeutic drug substitution requirements, prior authorization or pre-approval for coverage of certain medications, or formulary limits?
  • What measures are unions and employers negotiating in the interest of improving benefits while reducing costs? Is the consolidation of individual school board benefit plans into five education sector-wide Employee Life and Health Trusts in Ontario an example to follow?
  • Should benefit plans cover medical marijuana? Does the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal's decision in Canadian Elevator Industry Welfare Trust Fund v. Skinner, which held it was not discriminatory for a benefit plan to exclude medical marijuana from coverage, have implications beyond Nova Scotia? Could medical marijuana replace more expensive drugs and actually reduce healthcare costs? Does legalization of recreational marijuana affect benefit plans and coverage of the medical version of the drug?
  • Is a national single-payer pharmacare program on the horizon? If so, how will it affect benefit plans?

CONFERENCE ENDS

4:00 PM

NETWORKING RECEPTION

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Keynote Speakers


  • Bargaining: Learning from the last round, preparing for the next round

Monday, November 19, 2018



Bargaining: Learning from the last round, preparing for the next round

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Workshop Leaders

Jordana Feist
Research Representative
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Katie Fitzmaurice
Advisor, Information & Advisory Services, Regional Employers Services
Metro Vancouver
Jacquie Griffiths
Director, Regional Employers Services
Metro Vancouver
Bill Pegler
National Representative
Canadian Union of Public Employees

Workshop Summary

Good negotiators come to the table aware of all the data and arguments that support their demands as well as the data and arguments that may be used to resist their demands. Given the broad range of potential subjects of bargaining as well as the importance of external factors, such as generally prevailing economic and/or political conditions, negotiating teams may feel that comprehensive preparation is unmanageable and jump into negotiations without adequate awareness of important factors affecting bargaining. In this session, Lancaster's experts will introduce participants to sources of information and research methods that will allow them to fully prepare for bargaining.

Participants will learn to:

  • Assemble and analyze data regarding internal factors, such as previous grievance experience and negotiating history, and external factors, such as terms and conditions for comparable employee groups as well as general political and fiscal considerations.
  • Determine the true priorities of bargaining unit members/employees, and how both unions and employers can apply their knowledge of these priorities.
  • Anticipate and prepare responses to the other side's demands.
  • Obtain information necessary for costing proposals.
  • Find relevant and reliable information on general economic conditions and factor this information into their bargaining strategy.
  • Locate collective agreement language, settlement agreements and awards that will bolster their own demands (including identifying appropriate comparator organizations or enterprises).

VIEW THE WORKSHOP AGENDA



Thursday, November 22, 2018



Effective Harassment Investigations: A step-by-step guide to conducting investigations

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Workshop Leaders

Jessica Gregory
Arbitrator/Mediator

Tina-Marie Bradford
Legal Counsel
British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union
Sharon Cartmill‑Lane
Employer Counsel
Sheen Arnold McNeil

Workshop Summary

With recent high profile reports describing botched harassment investigations, ensuring that they are correctly carried out is more important than ever. Even persons who don’t conduct investigations themselves need to understand how a fair investigation is conducted, when an outside investigator should be retained, and in which ways to ensure that they are providing adequate disclosure while at the same time safeguarding confidential information as much as possible. In this interactive workshop, an experienced arbitrator and legal counsel will provide a step-by-step guide to effective harassment investigations and lead participants through realistic scenarios, providing them with the knowledge necessary to:

  • Ensure the investigation complies with legal requirements.
  • Select an appropriate investigator.
  • Develop suitable safeguards to maintain confidentiality.
  • Understand the union’s role in the investigation.
  • Disclose appropriate information relating to the complaint and the results of the investigation.
  • Establish fair and effective processes for questioning witnesses and the parties involved.

VIEW THE WORKSHOP AGENDA



Thursday, November 22, 2018



Disability-Related Misconduct: Establishing the connection, assessing discipline, exploring accommodation

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Workshop Leaders

Richard (Rick) Coleman
Arbitrator/Mediator

Alissa Demerse
Employer Counsel
Roper Greyell
Carolyn Janusz
Union Counsel
Black Gropper

Workshop Summary

The principles of progressive discipline and the requirements of human rights law seem to clash whenever an employee claims that his or her misconduct is, at least in part, caused by a disability. The "hybrid" approach to disability-related misconduct, developed in British Columbia a decade ago, attempted to resolve the apparent conflict between accommodation and workplace discipline by separating culpable behaviour from non-culpable behaviour, but this is easier said than done. There is now even greater uncertainty regarding the proper approach to disability-related misconduct following the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Elk Valley, which upheld the dismissal of an employee with a substance dependency for failing to disclose his disability prior to a workplace accident. In this interactive workshop, experts will untangle the legal issues in this area and provide practical guidance to employer and union representatives who must respond to disability-related misconduct.

Work through realistic scenarios with the guidance of seasoned experts, and gain the skills and knowledge necessary to:

  • Recognize behaviours or warning signs that will give rise to the duty to inquire.
  • Understand competing approaches for dealing with disability-related misconduct.
  • Differentiate between culpable and non-culpable conduct for the purposes of assessing discipline and providing accommodation.
  • Assess whether medical evidence establishes or refutes a connection between an employee's misconduct and disability.
  • Determine whether accommodation would result in undue hardship.
  • Evaluate the role of last chance agreements in establishing undue hardship.

VIEW THE WORKSHOP AGENDA



CPD


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