City of #Guelph & Paramedics – OPSEU Local 231 Union – Head to Interest Arbitration
The City of Guelph and the union representing Guelph’s 157 full- and part-time paramedics, Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) Local 231, have jointly made an application to the Ministry of Labour for a No Board Report, meaning collective bargaining negotiations will now head into interest arbitration.
“Council is extremely disappointed that a freely negotiated contract has not been reached,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie. “Council’s mandate was clear, and we felt that the mandate was fair to both paramedics and taxpayers. We will not accept the current unaffordable proposals from OPSEU.”
The City and OPSEU bargaining teams are at an impasse with a number of issues still on the table including wages and modernizing collective agreement language.
“It is always the City’s hope to freely negotiate a collective agreement, and we are prepared to continue negotiating an agreement that is fair for our paramedics who work in Guelph and Wellington County, affordable for Guelph citizens, and aligned with other City employee groups’ and municipal comparators’ contracts,” said the City’s chief administrative officer, Derrick Thomson.
The decision to proceed to interest arbitration follows 13 days of bargaining and one day of bargaining with a Ministry of Labour appointed conciliator. No further progress was made even with the assistance of the conciliator. Both parties have agreed to proceed to interest arbitration.
The arbitration process involves a binding decision handed down by an arbitration board that has been presented with evidence by both negotiating parties.
“The City values the excellent work of our paramedics. We also have a responsibility to balance the interests of all employees, taxpayers, and residents of Guelph,” added Thomson. “Above all, community safety is our priority. Ambulance services will not be affected during contract negotiations.”
“Municipalities across Ontario are grappling with the arbitration system, which unfortunately takes the resolution of collective bargaining out of the hands of both invested parties,” said Mayor Guthrie.
The City’s bargaining team remains available to meet with OPSEU to reach a mutually agreeable contract.