Labour Relations Board appoints arbitrator in Compass -VIHA talks

Bargaining bulletin

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More than 700 HEU members are one step closer to a first contract with Compass – the company contracted by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) to provide housekeeping and dietary services in many of its health facilities.

On December 27, the Labour Relations Board appointed mediator/arbitrator, Stan Lanyon, to help the union and Compass reach an initial collective agreement. Lanyon – a former chair of the Labour Relations Board – was appointed under Section 55 of the B.C. Labour Code.

Both HEU and Compass will make presentations to Lanyon at upcoming hearings, with dates still to be confirmed. Following the hearings, Lanyon is expected to issue a decision that establishes a first contract.

This mediation represents the second stage of Section 55 – a process designed to help reach first collective agreements through mediation and arbitration.

It was used to reach first contracts for 250 Compass workers in the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) last month – and for more than 1400 Sodexho workers in 2005.

Mediator, Grant McArthur, first attempted to achieve an agreement between Compass and HEU in the initial stage of the Section 55 process. In his final report, he recommended that the main outstanding non-monetary issue – a single seniority list for all VIHA members – along with other administrative concerns, be determined by the arbitration – now concluded – for Compass members in the PHSA.

McArthur also recommended that all remaining issues in Compass VIHA bargaining – including wages, retroactivity, sick leave and the term of the collective agreement – go to arbitration.

HEU members working for Compass on Vancouver Island gave their bargaining committee a 96 per cent strike mandate last October. The union subsequently applied for mediation and arbitration under the Labour Code.

Compass members on Vancouver Island were the last group of workers employed by the “Big Three” – Aramark, Sodexho and Compass – to join HEU. Negotiations began in April 2006.