Is the Company Lawyer/Negotiator Looking for a Fight?

On March 7 – 9 we met with Vision Loss Rehab company officials to continue negotiations for your new Union Contract.

As we told you in our last update, bargaining wasn’t going especially well. The company has been using a high-priced lawyer out of Toronto to be their spokesperson at the bargaining table. It’s possible that he gets paid by the word, we aren’t sure, but in any case, he doesn’t seem too interested in concluding an agreement. 

Unfortunately, bargaining has been contentious and extremely adversarial as a result of the employer’s lawyer. Even more so than when we bargained for your very first Collective Agreement, which should tell you all you need to know about the situation.  

After we met last November, we were hopeful that bargaining would improve. You could say that we were cautiously optimistic, though skeptical. It turns out our skepticism was warranted. To say we didn’t accomplish much during this session would be an understatement.

The company’s lawyer continues to press for language changes and continues to hold to positions that we believe to be unreasonable or just unnecessary. The company’s rationale for every change is that the current language, as written, doesn’t make any sense and so they want to substitute it for their own language, which unduly benefits the employer.

It’s safe to say that the company has hired this actor to come in and bully or strong arm the committee. In fact, in one particularly glaring oversight he tried to claim we were being unreasonable about an issue after we had already agreed to one of his changes. It seems he forgot that it was he who proposed the change in the first place! Fairly embarrassing for the company, but you know what they say, “you get what you pay for.”  

At one point, he tried to tell us that if we didn’t agree to his non-monetary changes, there would be no wage increase! When we pushed back at him on this statement, he quickly retreated and attempted to soften his position. All of this, however, has been duly noted by your union committee.  

Where do we go from here?

We are scheduled to meet with the employer again the third week of April, however, it’s not likely that we will get anywhere after what happened this week. If this happens to be the case, we will start looking at additional steps to get this process escalated to the next level. That would include things like a public communications strategy as well as making an application for government assistance.

Please stay tuned for more updates and, as always, reach out to your stewards or your Union Labour Relations Officer if you have any concerns.


Your Union Bargaining Committee:
Jen Belaya
Christy Horan
Deb Bignell
Dave Winchester
Aaron Goguen
Noah Mogesse
Lee Clarke