With this contract, I thee wed

Canadian Labour Reporter’s editors discuss unique clauses in collective agreements
By Sabrina Nanji and Liz Foster
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/25/2014

Having to report to work on the day you get married might seem like an unthinkable notion — but for some employees, having a day off for their wedding may not be an explicit right.

Canadian Blood Services in Edmonton allows up to three days off for an employee’s wedding, according to its collective agreement. In Quebec, the Canadian Merchant Service Guild at Océan Remorquage Côte-Nord is given two days off while members of the Labourers’ International Union of North America at Quality Hotel in Campbellton, N.B., are given one unpaid week off for the big day.

Over the past year, Canadian Labour Reporter reported the details of nearly 300 collective agreements from across Canada. Here’s a look at some of the more unusual items that caught our eyes.

LCBO negotiations

In its 86-year history, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has never had a strike — but that didn’t stop thirsty customers from stockpiling last summer after threats of job action. The government-owned liquor stores never did close, as the Ontario Public Service Union (OPSEU) ratified a new deal with the LCBO that runs up until 2017.

Notably, the new contract contained a provision addressing a human rights complaint from the union alleging systematic discrimination based on sex. In it, the LCBO agreed to meet within 90 days of ratification to resolve the allegations. It also specified that any discussions would not prohibit the union from filing an application with the provincial human rights tribunal.

LCBO employees also received a $1,600 signing bonus ($800 for part-time, seasonal and casual workers), wage increases and a pledge to hire 200 permanent full-time staff over the lifespan of the agreement.

On campus

Organizations in the same sector, such as educational institutions, seem to share common trends. Most collective agreements between university administrations and faculty members include terms pertaining to copyright and intellectual property rights.

For example, two post-secondary institutions in British Columbia — Douglas College in Westminster and Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Richmond — included copyright provisions in their collective agreements. At Douglas College, the employer will provide up to $10,000 to be used in defence of copyright infringement judgments, as well as agreeing to retain counsel and pay for all legal costs.

It’s a similar story at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., which allows employees to retain the copyright to their exclusive lecture notes and course material, giving the university non-exclusive, non-royalty-bearing licence to use those materials for teaching purposes.

Safety, discipline

On the East Coast, unions and employers focused in large part on safety during collective bargaining in 2013. In Prince Edward Island, the Laborers’ International Union of North America — representing 230 labourers — struck a deal with the Association of Commercial and Industrial Contractors of P.E.I. preventing the use of cellphones and smartphones during work hours. The agreement aims to ensure employees focus their full attention on working safely.

Ontario-based bus carrier company Trentway-Wagar and the Amalgamated Transit Union require employees over the age of 70 to pass annual medical and skills competency tests. The company also penalizes employees involved in preventable accidents, imposing a 36-month disciplinary sunset clause instead of the standard two-year clause.

Discipline was also a focus for the Ontario provincial government. A three-year “sunset clause” — referring to the time that must pass before discipline is taken off an employee’s record — was included in its collective agreement with OPSEU for its 29,040 public service employees, representing one of the longest such clauses reported by Canadian Labour Reporter in 2013.

In Quebec, some inherent dangers of the workplace were recognized. Dock workers represented by the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allies Industrial and Service Workers International Union in the province were awarded shift premiums of up to 50 cents per hour when handling hazardous cargo including ammonium nitrate, alum powder, dynamite and other explosives for transportation company Arrimage du Nord.

Employees’ health and safety was also at the forefront of the Quebec government’s collective agreement with la Fédération de la Santé et des Services Sociaux for 820 ambulance technicians.

Under that agreement, employees will be paid for the time it takes to disinfect themselves or their vehicles following contact with bodily fluids. Designated zones are provided by the employer to allow employees to bathe and change clothes mid-shift as a result of that contact.

A focus was also placed on the safety of citizens, with a 24-month disciplinary sunset clause put in place for employees involved in a violent infraction. This discipline is double the 12-month clause for all other infractions.

Directors working with the CBC through the Association des Réalisateurs in Québec were granted accidental death and dismemberment insurance in excess of $300,000 during travel through dangerous areas, while broadcast employees with Groupe TVA negotiated guaranteed salary and benefits in the event they are incarcerated for refusing to reveal a confidential source.

In a similar deal, Montreal-based truck drivers working for Midland Transport were given a guarantee of employment in the event they lose their licence. As long as the loss is for 12 months or less and occurs as a result of conduct outside of work hours, drivers represented by Teamsters Québec Local 106 will retain their job security.

Under a collective agreement signed between the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation and the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union in 2013, all employees directly involved in a robbery or attempted robbery will be entitled to five paid days of “emotional assistance leave.” The article provides the 1,080 retail employees covered by the collective agreement with support as well as safety.

Sabrina Nanji and Liz Foster are news editors for Canadian Labour Reporter, a sister publication to Canadian HR Reporter. Published weekly, it covers labour news, arbitration cases and collective agreements. For more information, visit www.labour-reporter.com.

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