The North Bay Police Services Board is bargaining with the North Bay Police Association in a “very different, very unique” way, and the result has not been very productive, says Sgt. Rick Dubeau, the association's lead negotiator.
Talks between the two sides broke down this week after four days of negotiations, Dubeau said, and the board has now applied for conciliation.
Dubeau said a Toronto lawyer has been brought in by the board to negotiate, and the association has been told what the new reality of bargaining will be.
“The way they’re dealing with things is very different, very unique and we’ve never experienced this type of thing before, but they’re tying in all the issues, so that we can’t settle any issues separately and have to agree on all the issues at once,” Dubeau said.
“So we’re going into conciliation or arbitration without any issues being resolved whatsoever.”
What's going on
William Ferguson, chairman of the police services board, declined comment, stating both parties had agreed not to talk to the media.
But Dubeau said it is “important” for the general public to be aware of “what’s going on with its police service, the board and the association.
Dubeau said the association should be able to quickly settle issues “we have no problems with” and then go into mediation or arbitration “with the issues we’re having difficulty with, but they seem to be refusing that.”
Interestingly, Dubeau said, the board recently hired a new police chief locally, “one who understands the local issues.”
“But when it comes to negotiations they’ve chosen to go to Toronto to get a lawyer who has no understanding what our local issues are,” Dubeau said.
“He may have experience bargaining with a way of bargaining we’ve never seen before, but to tie us all into one contract, and if we don’t sign on all issues, then they’re not going to deal with any issues, seems a little troublesome.”
Not anything erratic
The Association, Dubeau said, is seeking wage parity with similarly sized municipal police services in the province.
“And on that issue we weren’t close at all,” Dubeau said.
“We’re talking about parity, not anything erratic or outside of the box.”
Haven't really disclosed
Dubeau and his negotiating team are trying to work out a contract for 86 sworn employees and 55 civilians.
“The way they were negotiating, we truly felt that it that was probably their intention to go to conciliation or arbitration,” Dubeau said.
“The message we’re getting is either city council or somebody is only allowing the board so much flexibility, and they’re limited in what they can offer us and haven’t really disclosed everything they can.”
Very far apart
Once conciliation is applied for the Ontario Labour Ministry has 30 days to appoint a conciliator.
“We’re very far apart,” Dubeau said, “and the conciliator is going to have a lot of work to do to bring us together.”