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Union strong and ready for negotiations

Publish date: Wednesday, May 26, 2021 update

AMAPCEO flag waving in front of Queen's Park

Negotiations for a new contract for one AMAPCEO bargaining unit are already underway, while talks for six others will begin in the new year, the union updated members today.

The Ontario Health – Quality unit (OHQ) is currently at the bargaining table, its contract having expired on March 30, 2020. After surveying members to establish bargaining priorities, the OHQ Bargaining Team, which consists of members Kristen McMartin and Alexis Schaink as well as AMAPCEO staff, has already had several meeting dates with the OHQ Employer, and their work is ongoing.

“AMAPCEO members in the Ontario Health – Quality Unit are well-served by Kristen and Alexis and our professional staff,” AMAPCEO President Dave Bulmer said. “They are an experienced team and I know they will secure the fairest contract possible.”

Six units to start negotiations in 2022

Contracts for AMAPCEO members at the Ontario Public Service (OPS), the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), Ontario Arts Council (OAC), Public Health Ontario (PHO), and both units at the Ontario Ombudsman all expire March 31, 2022. Collective bargaining for new contracts—which together affect more than 14,000 public service professionals—could begin as early as January 2022.

The contract for members at Waypoint, AMAPCEO’s remaining bargaining unit, does not expire until March 30, 2023.

Stronger together: the importance of collective bargaining

Collective bargaining is the process through which the union and the employer negotiate the terms and conditions of employment, including wages, benefits, job security, a dispute resolution process, and more. These are codified into a collective agreement—a written contract between the union and the employer.

In all its negotiations, AMAPCEO members are represented at the bargaining table by a small group of representative members, the union’s President, as well as AMAPCEO staff and legal counsel. While it is a small team that does the actual negotiating, all members help set bargaining priorities, and all members will ultimately vote on the tentative agreement.

“Collective bargaining provides fairness and stability in labour relations,” Bulmer said. “Constructive negotiations leading to a strong contract will help everyone focus on what they do best at work. And for AMAPCEO members, that’s planning and providing quality public services in this province.”

While OHQ is already well into the official bargaining process, negotiation preparations for these six other AMAPCEO bargaining units have also been underway for the last several months. The union’s Board has established a Bargaining Readiness Working Group, which is working with specialist staff to lay the groundwork for contract talks. This includes everything from research and education to communications to member engagement.

President Bulmer says the union—and its members—are ready. “AMAPCEO is stronger than ever for having to overcome the difficulties of the last 14 months. We’re ready to defend public services and the interests of the professionals responsible for them.”

Next steps

In the fall, the union will conduct the process of recruiting, electing, and selecting bargaining team members for all its affected units.

Broader Public Sector (BPS) units—including FSRA, OAC, PHO, and both units at the Ombudsman’s Office—typically elect two representative members to their bargaining team.

Being a much larger unit, members in the OPS will elect 11 shortlisted candidates—one from each of the union’s Districts. The AMAPCEO Executive Committee, on behalf of the Board, will then select five to seven of those candidates to serve on the bargaining team. The Executive will consider a diversity of skills, attributes, and demographics in their selection. The remaining shortlisted candidates will serve as alternates, if necessary.

Those selected by the Executive will join the President and several staff and legal counsel as the bargaining team.

All members will be invited to complete a confidential survey to identify and inform the priorities for this round of negotiations—these are the improvements they want to see in the new contract.

AMAPCEO will also launch a dedicated online space so members can stay up to date on the negotiations as information becomes available.

Negotiating under Bill 124

Negotiations for these new contracts will be bound by the constraints of the government’s Bill 124 (the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act), which caps compensation increases at one per cent a year for three years in all new collective agreements.

AMAPCEO is a founding member of a coalition of more than 40 unions that has launched a Charter challenge against the legislation. Together, the coalition represents more than 270,000 unionized public sector employees across the province. The challenge is expected to head to trial in late 2021 or early 2022. Similar legislation in Manitoba was ruled unconstitutional last year.

“While Bill 124 trampled our constitutional right to free collective bargaining, we won’t let it stop us from defending our interests and fighting for good contracts,” Bulmer said.

“We’re ready.”

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Ontario Health (Quality Unit); Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).