After a few non-answer answers, Sheila Gordon basically said – I know you are not saying so, but we get it anyway; the PSSA wage pattern applies, and we are going to proceed on that basis, unless you tell us otherwise.
b.) The Threat
Kids, if you want to learn how to be a good negotiator, don’t ever make threats. If you are at a bargaining table, do not, ever, in any way, shape, or form, suggest to your opponent that you or someone else will hurt them in some way if they do not give you what you want.
It’s for practical reasons, not moral ones (although, morality may generally agree with the stricture). Threatening someone to get what you want is a good way to guarantee that not only won’t you get what you are asking for, you won’t get anything at all (except maybe a figurative punch in the nose, and I say you’ll deserve it).
Anyway, I’m pretty sure I know why Brian Ellis did this, and it again goes back to that passed-but-not proclaimed business.
In the words of my friend Mr. Smorang, the government wanted to be having its cake and eating it too. They wanted, it would seem, to have all the benefits that the PSSA would give them – wage restraints, without having to face any of the consequences, legal and otherwise. I gather that they got this idea from Nova Scotia, but I generally advise against any plan that is essentially – well Nova Scotia is getting away with behaving like idiots, so let us then behave like idiots too.
While at the outset, this strategy might have seemed to be smart, it became almost immediately apparent in every single instance, that this wasn’t at all workable in any actual application.
In this situation, the government would have a real problem if the GEMA negotiations went to binding arbitration, because as long as the PSSA remained unproclaimed, it would be open to the arbitration board to ignore it, award wage increases, and their decision would be statutorily binding. Retroactivity in the PSSA be damned. It wouldn’t mean anything unless the government finally proclaimed the stupid thing, and they really don’t want to do that.
In short, the government was desperate to avoid binding arbitration by any and all means, and Brian Ellis was stuck trying to do everything he could to keep MGEU from triggering their rights to it. (Yet another reason not to use threats. Although an inherent play to power, they are typically an indication that you are desperate because you don’t actually have any power, or any legitimate power anyway.)
In any event, Brian Ellis threatened that if MGEU went to binding arbitration, then each and every gain that the MGEU had already obtained through any collective bargaining that had already taken place, would be off the table. And, furthermore, the MGEU could expect that any nice-guy aspects of the governments initial proposals would be removed. It’ll be hard-ball time. And we will be out to get you.
Well, in that case, said the MGEU, there’s no point in talking about anything outside the PSSA either, because even if we get some agreement, we won’t get there on wages, and when we get to binding arbitration, you’re just going to erase any other gains we have made in the meantime. Alrighty then. Binding arbitration it is.
Yet one further lesson on why you should not use threats – unintended consequences. By making this threat, Ellis gave the MGEU a guaranteed reason not to bother bargaining at all. They couldn’t bargain on wages because of the PSSA, and there was no point in trying to negotiate on anything else, because the bullies on the Public Services Cabinet Committee were just going to evaporate them all when they went to binding arbitration.