We would like to provide an update concerning a policy grievance which was filed regarding appointment time being drawn from sick banks: During the 2010 – 2012 round of negotiations, your bargaining committee achieved a change in language to Article 26.13. This article pertains to a maximum of three days per year leave of absence to attend medical and dental appointments. Previous to the change, the article specifically outlined a requirement that members had to make up the time, failing which, the appointment time would be drawn from accrued lieu, vacation or sick banks. With the deletion of this requirement, your committee and the Union believed that the parties were negotiating a separate bank of three days to be used for this purpose.
In 2013, the Union became aware that the Employer was continuing to draw appointment time, predominantly from sick banks versus applying it against the separate three day appointment bank. As such, the Union filed a grievance.
The Employer contended that our interpretation was incorrect and that at the time that the language was negotiated, their intent was to simply remove the requirement to make up the time and not allow for a separate appointment bank.
The Union maintained its position and insisted that the plain language of the article should apply. The parties were scheduled to go to arbitration on the matter in December 2015. While preparing for arbitration, the Employer gave indication that they would not argue the plain language of the contract, but would argue that the Union was “estopped.” (Basically this means there are occasions where practices in the workplace differ from the language of the Collective Agreement. When a practice is established, the appropriate course of action to cease the practice would be to put the other party on notice at bargaining. This would formally force compliance with the language and thus stop the practice. This allows either party to propose changes to the language of the relevant article and it would be up to the other party if changes are accepted.)
Given the fact that a great deal of time had elapsed and another round of bargaining had taken place since the language had first been negotiated and a practice established, the parties came to an agreement on the matter. By filing the grievance itself, the Union has now formally put the Employer on notice for the upcoming round of negotiations, which will require the Employer to stop deducting appointment time from sick banks and establish a separate three day bank. This will become effective on the date of signing of the new Collective Agreement. It is important to note that although the deduction from your sick bank will cease, members still have a choice to make up the time within 30 days and in agreement with your supervisor.
If you have any further questions on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact your NSGEU Employee Relations Officer, Nicole McKim, by calling 902-424-4063 (toll-free 1-877-556-7438) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.