The Winnipeg School Division Bus Driver Strike first started on September 8th over the failed legislation of Bill 28. The two sides engaged in a day of Conciliation on Friday the 18th to try and bridge the gap on the outstanding issues, but that resulted with no movement.
According to the Manitoba Labour Relations Act, either party can apply to have a strike or lockout end by using Binding Arbitration after 60 days, this is called Alternate Dispute Resolution. Alternatively, both parties can agree to use Binding Arbitration, at any point during a strike or lockout, or they can agree to use this tool to prevent a labour dispute.
“It’s time to get Bus Drivers back to work, and to get kids back on the bus,” said Bea Bruske, Secretary-Treasurer of UFCW Local 832. “This strike will end up with Binding Arbitration one way or the other, it makes no sense for this to be dragged out any further when we can both agree to end it now.”
The Union offered this position to the School Division yesterday in a letter sent to:
- Eric Barnaby, Director of Human Resources for the Winnipeg School Division
- Betty Edel, Chair of Winnipeg School Division Board of Trustees
- Chris Broughton, Winnipeg School Division Trustee
If binding arbitration is accepted, then the strike would end within a few days, and kids could get back on the bus.
UFCW 832 represents over 90 bus drivers for Winnipeg School Division. Their current contract expired on June 30, 2019.
What is Conciliation?
Conciliation is intended to assist Employers and Unions resolve differences at the negotiations table. A Government-appointed conciliation officer brings both parties to the same location, but different rooms. The Conciliation officer will then attempt to negotiate with both parties and attempt to break the impasse. A conciliation officer cannot force either party to agree to anything.
It is also a necessary step required before either side can apply for Binding Arbitration (in legislation, this is also referred to as Alternate Dispute Resolution.
Ok, but what is Binding Arbitration?
Binding Arbitration is a mechanism that will resolve the dispute between Employer and Union.
Through a hearing process, an Arbitrator will review both the Employer and the Union’s final offer that was made at the bargaining table, and they will only look at the outstanding issues that have not been agreed to.
For each outstanding item, the Arbitrator will listen to both sides make their case. The Arbitrator then has the ability to choose what they think is the fairest offer, or they may also impose a new solution that they feel will better addresses the issue.
This is binding, and will end any labour dispute that is ongoing, or it can be used to prevent one from happening if both sides agree to use this before a strike occurs.
For example: If you had 37 issues at the bargaining table, and three issues that are not agreed to: Pay, Scheduling and Sick Leave. The Arbitrator could choose the Employer’s offer on Pay, and then choose the Union’s offer on Scheduling and then impose a new solution for Sick Leave.
What is Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)?
ADR is a part of the Manitoba Labour Relations Act, and it is intended to prevent labour disputes from becoming any worse than they already are. ADR can be applied for by either party in a labour dispute after 60 days, this will start the process of ending a strike or lockout and put everyone back to work.