Fredericton - CUPE NB and the NB Council of Municipal Employees join their voices in opposition to Finance Minister Melanson’s promise to change provincial binding arbitration law. The government could get on a slippery slope by tipping the balance in favour of employers in future labour negotiations.
“Essential services employees cannot go on strike like other unionized employees,” explained CUPE NB Acting President Odette Robichaud. “Binding arbitration is often the only remedy these union members have when there is a negotiation deadlock.”
“Government would be stripping away the union leverage at the table to ensure employers negotiate fairly” said Marcos Salib, CUPE NB Council of Municipal Employees’ coordinator.
Minister Melanson is justifying the reform to “help municipalities manage expenses”. However this misses the mark. “Even if implemented, the law does not tackle the fundamental problems: proper funding and ability to collect revenue. Arbitrators have often ruled that the ability to pay is not a valid argument used by employers as they have the ability to increase revenues by various avenues. Instead, government should assist the municipalities by eliminating the equalization grants that have resulted in lost revenues to major municipalities,” noted Salib.
“For CUPE, this is a question of workers’ rights. We will have to consider our legal options,” warned Robichaud.