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Arbitrator appointed in NS health merger

HALIFAX, Oct. 9, 2014 /CNW/ - Unifor is pleased with the appointment of James Dorsey Q.C. as the mediator/arbitrator to resolve the difficulties resulting from the implementation of Bill 1 and its impact on health care workers, their union representation and their collective agreements. Mr. Dorsey was recommended by all four health care unions - Unifor, CUPE, NSNU and NSGEU - and accepted by the employer, the Health Authorities of Nova Scotia (HANS).

"It was essential that we have an arbitrator with the kind of experience that Mr. Dorsey brings to the table," said Lana Payne, Unifor Atlantic Regional Director, who noted that Dorsey has extensive background dealing with matters of health care restructuring including in both British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

"The fact that we were able to reach a swift agreement with the employer over the selection of an arbitrator is proof that the unions and HANS can work together, even though we take the position and will continue to take the position that Bill 1 is unconstitutional and a violation of our members Charter rights," said Payne.

Dorsey has been an arbitrator for 37 years and was appointed to handle the health authorities' merger in British Columbia in 2001, which resulted in a bargaining association model where unions work collaboratively to bargain on behalf of their membership.

"There are serious time constraints and challenges with the way the Liberal government has chosen to handle this restructuring," continued Payne. "We have worked quickly, in good faith and in the best interests of our members. We will continue to do exactly that throughout the mediation and arbitration process. We remain firm in our opinion that the best path forward is a bargaining association model and we will continue to work towards achieving that."

Initial meetings with the arbitrator, the employer and the unions are scheduled on October 17 and 18 in Halifax.

Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. With more than 305,000 members, including more than 4,000 health care workers in Nova Scotia, Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector.