Unions set to appeal arbitrator's flawed ruling in power engineers wage rate hearing

HEU and its facilities sector bargaining partners are launching an appeal of a late March arbitration decision that went against the union bargaining association on the issue of appropriate wage rates for power engineers and related integrated jobs that flows from a memorandum of understanding from 1998 bargaining. However, the unions were successful on achieving a new revised rate for chief power engineers 3rd class, with the arbitrator ordering a new rate of $25.85 per hour effective April 1, 1997. In her very narrow decision, arbitrator Heather Laing ruled in favour of health employers which means that the anomaly of different wage rates for power engineers doing the same work will continue pending the appeal. At the heart of the issue was the 1998 bargaining agreement with employers in which both sides agreed: that the Facilities Subsector classifications for the Power Engineers will remain in effect but that the wage rates will move to the wage rates for the equivalent IUOE [International Union of Operating Engineers] classifications effective April 1, 1997. "Our goal out of 1998 bargaining," says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt, "was to equalize wage rates in the power engineer job family and related integrated jobs. In particular, the priority was to raise HEU rates to match those in the old IUOE contract." "We believe that the arbitrator has erred, and the issue warrants an appeal."