Rare bad-faith bargaining ruling costs employer $6 million

Penalty sets new record for Manitoba Labour Board

Bad-faith bargaining has cost a Manitoba employer $6 million – and the price tag may go up.

Buhler Versatile Inc. has been embroiled in a bitter labour dispute with its workers – members of the Canadian Auto Workers union – for the last eight months. New contract negotiations resulted in a strike when the company moved to eliminate seniority rights and appeared unwilling to negotiate. Workers voted to return to work last March, but the company locked them out. They are still not back on the job.

The Manitoba Labour Board concluded that Buhler failed to bargain in good faith and ordered it to reimburse the workers for lost wages. However, the $6 million Buhler has been ordered to pay only represents lost wages until the return-to-work vote. Next month, the board will hear the union’s allegations of bad faith since that time and further penalties are possible.

Buhler said that it intends to appeal the ruling.

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