The City of Medical Hat wants to be a big employer. We want to set a good example for the private sector, but the choice is not between a private company (looking for profits) and a union – it is the taxpayer and the police. It is in the public interest for both of them to have fair business. And the cost of local living needs to be more taken into account in each subdivision. This should not indicate that police salaries accurately reflect differences in the cost of living in each municipality (which would swing the pendulum at the other extreme), except that local economic conditions cannot be ignored. But the de facto pay parity of the police throughout the country suggests that cities and/or arbitrators favour wage parity over local economic conditions. I think this imbalance needs to be corrected. This agreement applies only to officers of the Department of Justice and the Attorney General, Department of Corrections, who are assigned to a 6/3 rotation. 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.” 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. The contracting parties will enter into negotiations on 15 January 2019 with a view to reaching an agreement on the wage borrowing system. In accordance with paragraph 3.01 of the Master Contract, paragraph 2.02 above and paragraph 16.05 of the framework contract do not apply to prison officers or correctional officers who are entitled to benefits under Article 7 of this agreement. 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. “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? Here is my understanding of the factors that contribute to a collective police agreement.