Arbitration results regarding Add One/Drop One clause

Fol­low­ing the rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the 2017 – 2021 Col­lec­tive Agree­ment between Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na Aca­d­e­m­ic Staff Mem­bers and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na, URFA filed a pol­i­cy griev­ance. URFA held that the nego­ti­at­ed agree­ment about the Add One/​Drop One pro­vi­sion would result in a salary increase for all employ­ees, not just those at the top and bot­tom of the pay grid. This was the top­ic of the griev­ance that went to arbi­tra­tion in Octo­ber and Novem­ber 2020. Fol­low­ing arbi­tra­tion, the griev­ance has been denied. 

Why did URFA file a grievance?

Some of the dis­cus­sion around the Add One/​Drop One pro­vi­sion that took place dur­ing bar­gain­ing led to dif­fer­ent inter­pre­ta­tions between URFA and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na as to how this pro­vi­sion would be implemented. 

URFA’s under­stand­ing, based on the dis­cus­sions with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na, was that all employ­ees would receive a salary increase, regard­less of their loca­tion on the pay grid. The result would be that all staff would receive an annu­al incre­ment increase as well as an addi­tion­al increase due to mov­ing up a lev­el on the pay grid. The excep­tion was that those at the top of the pay grid would receive only one increase. 

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Regina’s inter­pre­ta­tion was that the Add One/​Drop One pro­vi­sion would be imple­ment­ed as it had been in pre­vi­ous col­lec­tive agree­ments, result­ing in an increase for only those at the top and bot­tom of the pay grid.

What did URFA seek through the grievance?

URFA sub­mit­ted that the University’s state­ments around the inter­pre­ta­tion of the Add One/​Drop One pro­vi­sion were pos­si­bly made in bad faith to entice the union into an agree­ment that it had no inten­tion of honouring.

URFA sought a rul­ing in sup­port of URFA’s inter­pre­ta­tion of how to imple­ment the Add One/​Drop One pro­vi­sion. Alter­na­tive­ly, URFA sought a dec­la­ra­tion that the Uni­ver­si­ty act­ed in bad faith and that URFA relied on the doc­trine of promis­so­ry estop­pel to assert that the legal thresh­old for a promise was met in this case. URFA asked for a dec­la­ra­tion that the Uni­ver­si­ty was in breach of the col­lec­tive agree­ment and an order be made that the breach be cor­rect­ed retroac­tive to July 12019.

What did the arbi­tra­tors conclude?

After review­ing sub­mis­sions from both URFA and the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na, the griev­ance was denied. 

The arbitrator’s con­clu­sions were as follows:

  • That the employ­er did not know­ing­ly act in bad faith or make mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the union. Rather, the sub­jec­tive under­stand­ing of both par­ties about the Add One/​Drop One clause were that they each believed some­thing different.
  • The ver­bal state­ments of the employ­er rep­re­sen­ta­tives con­cern­ing the imple­men­ta­tion of the Add One/​Drop One pro­vi­sion are not suf­fi­cient to pre­clude it from act­ing on its strict legal rights, which have been deter­mined to be in accord with the University’s inter­pre­ta­tion of implementation.
  • That the basic ele­ments to sup­port the appli­ca­tion of equi­table estop­pel are absent based on the facts before us.
  • There is no doubt the union was placed in a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion because of a seri­ous mis­un­der­stand­ing at the nego­ti­at­ing table but based on the objec­tive evi­dence, the arbi­tra­tor can­not place the respon­si­bil­i­ty for the mis­un­der­stand­ing on the employer.

What hap­pens now?

URFA has learned a great deal from this expe­ri­ence and is tak­ing steps to ensure that future nego­ti­at­ing com­mit­tees are aware of the cir­cum­stances that lead to this dif­fer­ence of opin­ion and how to avoid such mis­un­der­stand­ings mov­ing forward.

What does this mean for me as a Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na Aca­d­e­m­ic Staff Member?

There will be no change to the exist­ing pay of Aca­d­e­m­ic Staff Mem­bers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Regi­na. The arbi­tra­tors con­clud­ed that the Uni­ver­si­ty has imple­ment­ed the Add One/​Drop One pro­vi­sion in accor­dance with the lan­guage of the Col­lec­tive Agree­ment. URFA mem­bers who are locat­ed at the top and bot­tom of the pay grid have received their increase. Employ­ees who are in the mid­dle of the pay grid main­tain their increased earn­ing poten­tial but will not receive an addi­tion­al increase.