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NAPE blindsided by ‘outrageous’ government negotiating tactics

Jerry Earle.
Jerry Earle.

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Public sector bargaining talks lurched towards open hostility Thursday, after the provincial government moved to send negotiations to conciliation — something the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees says is unprecedented.

“Outrageous is probably an understatement,” NAPE president Jerry Earle said.

After Earle alerted the public about the conciliation move by government, Finance Minister Cathy Bennett called reporters to Confederation Building to talk about the issues.

“Nape has said at the table that they are inflexible on offers we have put forward,” Bennett said.

Bennett walked the media through a number of issues that are sticking points in the contract talks. 

Specifically, briefing materials provided to reporters flagged wages, evening and weekend premiums, severance, sick leave and group insurance as “Main Issues” in the negotiations.

The government also flagged outsourcing and roadblocks to making employees redundant through technology as issues in the negotiations.

Bennett wouldn’t say whether the government is asking for rollbacks to wages and benefits.

The province’s largest public-sector union is raising concerns over a government move to send contract talks to conciliation, something NAPE says is unprecedented.

The province served notice Friday that it wants to go to conciliation on six out of 16 bargaining units involved in contract talks with the provincial government.

Those six bargaining tables are the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC), School Boards, Laboratory and X-Ray (LX), Maintenance and Operational Services (MOS), Group Homes, and Marine Services.

Earle said in a news release that as far as the union can tell, the province has never filed for conciliation in public sector bargaining before.

What’s more, it’s extremely early in the process and the union was completely blindsided. 

During the last round of public sector contract talks, the collective bargaining process took 18 months. In this case, the government is filing for conciliation less than two months after some of these bargaining units met for the first time.

“We envisioned a difficult round of bargaining,” Earle said. “We didn’t envision the government technically leaving the bargaining table after eight or 10 hours.”

Normally conciliation is a last-ditch attempt to get a deal when contract talks get to an impasse late in the game. Before either side can be in a legal strike or lockout position, they have to go through conciliation.

Bennett would not rule out the possibility of a lockout by government.

Earle said now, as far as he’s concerned, the union has no choice but to request conciliation for the other 10 bargaining units.

Bennett insisted that using conciliation is a normal process in negotiations, although she couldn’t cite an example of when the provincial government has ever used that mechanism in public sector contract talks.

Bennett also insisted that contrary to Earle’s assertion about eight to 10 hours of negotiations, the government has held “numerous discussions” over the past few months, and NAPE has been inflexible.

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

“Outrageous is probably an understatement,” NAPE president Jerry Earle said.

After Earle alerted the public about the conciliation move by government, Finance Minister Cathy Bennett called reporters to Confederation Building to talk about the issues.

“Nape has said at the table that they are inflexible on offers we have put forward,” Bennett said.

Bennett walked the media through a number of issues that are sticking points in the contract talks. 

Specifically, briefing materials provided to reporters flagged wages, evening and weekend premiums, severance, sick leave and group insurance as “Main Issues” in the negotiations.

The government also flagged outsourcing and roadblocks to making employees redundant through technology as issues in the negotiations.

Bennett wouldn’t say whether the government is asking for rollbacks to wages and benefits.

The province’s largest public-sector union is raising concerns over a government move to send contract talks to conciliation, something NAPE says is unprecedented.

The province served notice Friday that it wants to go to conciliation on six out of 16 bargaining units involved in contract talks with the provincial government.

Those six bargaining tables are the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC), School Boards, Laboratory and X-Ray (LX), Maintenance and Operational Services (MOS), Group Homes, and Marine Services.

Earle said in a news release that as far as the union can tell, the province has never filed for conciliation in public sector bargaining before.

What’s more, it’s extremely early in the process and the union was completely blindsided. 

During the last round of public sector contract talks, the collective bargaining process took 18 months. In this case, the government is filing for conciliation less than two months after some of these bargaining units met for the first time.

“We envisioned a difficult round of bargaining,” Earle said. “We didn’t envision the government technically leaving the bargaining table after eight or 10 hours.”

Normally conciliation is a last-ditch attempt to get a deal when contract talks get to an impasse late in the game. Before either side can be in a legal strike or lockout position, they have to go through conciliation.

Bennett would not rule out the possibility of a lockout by government.

Earle said now, as far as he’s concerned, the union has no choice but to request conciliation for the other 10 bargaining units.

Bennett insisted that using conciliation is a normal process in negotiations, although she couldn’t cite an example of when the provincial government has ever used that mechanism in public sector contract talks.

Bennett also insisted that contrary to Earle’s assertion about eight to 10 hours of negotiations, the government has held “numerous discussions” over the past few months, and NAPE has been inflexible.

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Earlier story

 

The province’s largest public sector union is raising concerns over a government move to send contract talks to conciliation, something NAPE says is unprecedented.

“Outrageous is probably an understatement,” NAPE president Jerry Earle said.

The province served notice Friday that it wants to go to conciliation on six out of 16 bargaining units involved in contract talks with the provincial government.

Those six bargaining tables are the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC), School Boards, Laboratory and X-Ray (LX), Maintenance and Operational Services (MOS), Group Homes, and Marine Services.

Earle said in a news release that as far as the union can tell, the province has never filed for conciliation in public sector bargaining before.

What’s more, it’s extremely early in the process and the union was completely blindsided. 

During the last round of public sector contract talks, the collective bargaining process took 18 months. In this case, the government is filing for conciliation less than two months after some of these bargaining units met for the first time.

“We envisioned a difficult round of bargaining,” Earle said. “We didn’t envision the government technically leaving the bargaining table after eight or 10 hours.”

Normally conciliation is a last-ditch attempt to get a deal when contract talks get to an impasse late in the game. Before either side can be in a legal strike or lockout position, they have to go through conciliation.

Earle said now, as far as he’s concerned, the union has no choice but to request conciliation for the other 10 bargaining units.

jmcleod@thetelegram.com    

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