Uh boy. Here we go. Sheila Gordon was the chief negotiator for MGEU in the latest round of GEMA bargaining. Her counterpart for the government was Brian Ellis, the Assistant Deputy Minister for the Labour Relations Department (who took over when Rick Stevenson retired). (I find out later that Brian Ellis is one of the people I have been seeing pop in and out of the trial.)
They are talking about documents again, documents which show what communications were going back and forth about GEMA, and documents I don’t have and have never seen. But from what I can tell, this was another episode of the union saying – hey are we under PSSA or not, and the employer saying, well, not very much. It’s a little maddening here, since unlike the others, the employer is actually the government, you know, the people who passed this PSSA thing. And not only that, as far as I know, Brian Ellis would have sat on the Public Services Cabinet Committee. Rick Stevenson did.
Anyway, when the parties meet on April 10 and 11, 2019 to exchange proposals, the question of what is going to happen due to the Public Services Sustainability Act is a big one for the MGEU side. There doesn’t seem to have been much of an answer, other than Ellis mentioning that if the MGEU goes to binding arbitration, any gains they might make in the meantime will all be off the table. (In the circumstances, it is kind of a veiled threat – you’d better stay and bargain, because if we hit arbitration, it’s hard-ball time.)
When Sheila Gordon mentions that these are extraordinary times. Ellis replies something about it being business as usual. Except of course it is not business as usual if the PSSA is going to be a part of this round. So, Gordon asks for clarity – does the PSSA govern this agreement or not? I gather she doesn’t get a straight answer.
But this question is critical to the MGEU. The PSSA will turn the process on its head. With wages already a pre-determined outcome, all the monetary issues are not only being moved to the front, they are already pre-determined. Gordon says “We needed to know what world we are in.”
There’s some correspondence that goes back and forth at the end of April and the beginning of May. It goes something like this: