#19 Arb decision temporarily dashes comparability hopes, pressure mounts at bargaining table to win fairness

Bargaining bulletin

HEU’s efforts to win fairness and justice for about 1,000 members were temporarily set back after arbitrator Stephen Kelleher ruled that they weren’t eligible to receive adjustments that were part of the union’s historic comparability/pay equity victory.

But HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt says the issue is far from over. “Clearly, we’ll be turning up the heat on employers at the bargaining table to ensure that all HEU facilities members receive the comparability adjustments they deserve,” he said.

Last year, the Health Employers Association directed bosses at about 30 long-term care facilities to withhold comparability payments to the thousand or so care givers. HEU took strong exception to the discriminatory move and won a hearing in late January before Kelleher to press our case.

At the arbitration, HEABC argued that the excluded union members weren’t paid the adjustments because they didn’t have specific “me too” clauses in their contracts in the early 1990s to be eligible for comparability. HEU argued that the move was discriminatory, and presented evidence to show that non-union employers and non-contract staff had been paid adjustments.

But while recognizing the union’s arguments about fairness, Kelleher rejected HEU’s position and directed the parties to resolve the matter in contract negotiations currently ongoing. “The remedy for any such perception of unfairness must be found at the bargaining table,” Kelleher wrote in a Feb. 26 decision.