Bruce J.A. found that arbitrators who simply use external wage parity to resolve wage disputes distort the collective bargaining process. Wage parity is a formal term for similarity in wages. In other words, the arbitrator cannot simply say medicine to the police should pay X, because the Toronto police paid X. The first-class constable is the standard measure for comparing canadian police salaries. It usually takes four years to reach the rank of a first-class constable. If the city and the police are unable to reach an agreement on the union plan, both parties can ask for conciliation. If mediation fails to resolve our disputes, each party may again escalate and request a binding arbitration procedure. But if police work was the responsibility of such specialized labour laws and the former arbitrators and judges had not left for so long to stress the need to take into account local economic conditions on police salaries. That is why I imagine that the work of the police is somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, where we should again see wage parity mitigated by local economic conditions. It should be noted that the police are designated as an essential service.
This weakens a union by removing its most powerful bargaining instrument – its ability to strike. So we have to be particularly careful with our relationship. “Arbitrators should in any event “point” to external wage parity, as this would stifle free collective bargaining and would never allow for local economic concerns, regardless of the seriousness of the regulation or the influence on wage agreements. Why would [firefighters] ever accept something less than external wage parity, when arbitration would inevitably lead to the imposition of pay parity with other fire groups in the province? Another reason why local economic conditions are not reflected in police salaries is the distinction between the lack of willingness to pay a commune and the insolvency of a commune. That is an important distinction. A city has much more power than a union since the city council controls the budget. However, we cannot simply use the budget to justify why we can no longer pay. This principle is articulated in another arbitration, Hamilton Police Services Board and the Hamilton Police Association 2002. Arbitrator Kenneth Swan wrote that a city council cannot simply control arbitration through a budget procedure. Our budget is a factor, but it does not exceed all other considerations about what a fair wage is. In other words, the city council cannot just say, “We cannot afford to pay them.” It is always better for the city and the police union to get an agreement without an arbitrator, but it is helpful to understand how arbitration works to better educate the public, what kinds of balances and trade-offs are to be expected. Finally, a binding conciliation is the hammer that hangs over any collective bargaining.
The arbitrator will try to counter a fair and reasonable agreement. The definition of what is “fair and reasonable” begins with the consideration of other collective agreements in the same sector and geography to be used as comparators. The UPV represents collective agreements for approximately 1,300 members of the Vancouver Police Service and negotiates employment contracts. It also represents its members in disciplinary proceedings and cases relating to the Workers` Compensation Act and the Employment Standards Act.