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Dorsey issues orders while government says he's fired

by Robert Devet

Bill 1 continues to create controversy. Today fired arbitrator Jim Dorsey issued orders as if he didn't lose his job at all. And today's scrum with Health Minister Leo Glavine further adds to the confusion. Photo Robert Devet
Bill 1 continues to create controversy. Today fired arbitrator Jim Dorsey issued orders as if he didn't lose his job at all. And today's scrum with Health Minister Leo Glavine further adds to the confusion. Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK, HALIFAX - This morning arbitrator Jim Dorsey formally ordered that the clerical bargaining unit be assigned to the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU).

That order was conditional on some internal restructuring of the clerical unit that the union has now dealt with to Dorsey's satisfaction.

The health care unit was already awarded to the NSGEU in last week's decision. The NSGEU holds a majority of members in both units.

What is truly remarkable though is that Dorsey issued today's order at all.

Last Friday, shortly after Dorsey's decision was released, Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine, in an unprecedented move, fired the arbitrator during a lively press conference.

The Minister argued that Dorsey didn't deliver, and was even musing that the arbitrator should not be fully paid for his services.

At that same press conference, Glavine announced that new legislation would be passed this spring that would assign health-care workers to the NSGEU, and assign the remaining three bargaining units to the other health-care unions involved.

Now it seems Dorsey does not think he's actually fired and he continues to issue orders in his role of arbitrator.

“It is gratifying this additional closing piece in this complex labour relations landscape restructuring has been completed,” writes Dorsey in an email sent to all parties involved in the arbitration exercise.

“I urge the unions to achieve a similar basis for a successor union to claim majority representation by choice of the employees in the remaining four bargaining units,” he writes.

Successor unions are similar in concept to the bargaining associations that were proposed by all unions prior to the start of the arbitration hearings. That solution would have enabled multiple unions to bargain collective agreements together while keeping their existing members.

NSGEU president Joan Jessome is pleased with Dorsey's confirmation, and offended by the government's response to last week's decision.

“Dorsey took his time to put a structure in place that would provide stability for years to come,” she tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“To tell this respected arbitrator during a press conference that he is fired, and talk about gravy trains and use other derogatory language is just unbelievable. It's simply their anger shining through,” says Jessome.

Meanwhile the message from government continues to change.

Glavine today shrugged off the latest Dorsey order, while also backtracking on his earlier announcement that new legislation would take care of what Dorsey wouldn't deliver.

Glavine now believes that a simple order of cabinet will do the trick, he told puzzled reporters today.

I absolutely believe that they're after the NSGEU,” says Jessome.

“If the government comes back tomorrow and takes away the members that were allocated to us, and takes away our nurses and gives them to the Nova Scotia Nurses Union and our support to yet another union than they are violating the charter and there will be constitutional challenges,” Jessome announces.

Meanwhile Dorsey remains upbeat.

"It continues to be a pleasure working with you and your clients. I am traveling today and will continue to be in the mountains with intermittent email access until next week,” he writes. 

“We could use some Nova Scotia snow!” he adds.

See also: You're fired! Long-awaited Dorsey decision is short-lived

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 

 


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