At the end of October, the Guild and S-VOX met with labour arbitrator Rick MacDowell to try to resolve a number of disputes arising from company restructuring and the creation of new “preditor” positions.
The positions of the two sides were fairly clear: management believed that the best way to staff the new positions was to give layoff notices to all the existing producers and editors, and then make them apply for the new jobs. The Guild argued that all the existing producers and editors had the basic skills to be preditors, and so hiring for the new jobs should be done on the basis of the most objective criteria: seniority. There were also disagreements about whether a supervisor position was in fact a management position, and what happens to an employee whose original position no longer exists when the trial period in their new position doesn’t work out.
Arbitration hearings operate much like court proceedings. There are witnesses, testimony, cross-examination and legal arguments. In the end, a decision or award is made by the arbitrator. Another option is for the two sides to try to reach a negotiated settlement with the assistance of the arbitrator, who acts as a mediator. This process is much less adversarial; rather than creating a win/lose scenario, everyone tries to reach a solution that is fair and reasonable to everyone.
We’re happy to report that we were able to reach agreement on all of the outstanding grievances, securing improvements to the situations of the individual employees affected by the restructuring and saving a lot of money in legal fees in the process. As well, the settlement discussions helped preserve what has become a good relationship between the Guild and S-VOX. Neither side lost or won, and both have developed a better understanding of some of the language of the collective agreement, and how it might be improved when we start negotiating the next agreement later in 2010.
CMG executive members at all of our employers meet with management frequently to discuss workplace issues and try to resolve any disagreements or disputes without having to take a more adversarial approach. We talk about anything and everything that affects our members; at S-VOX, the major topic of conversation on the horizon will of course be the upcoming Zoomer Media takeover of the company. As always, if you have questions or concerns about what’s going on, contact a member of your branch executive or contact the Guild office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-800-465-4149 or 416-591-5333.
Keith is the CMG Staff Representative assigned to S-VOX and can be reached at email@example.com.