This starts a bizarre set of events off into motion. The GVRD decided to reread some existing agreement language and make nebulous ties to other areas of the agreement to support their new interpretations.
Shortly after ratification of a new Collective Agreement in 1999, the GVRD wrote a letter to the Union advising us of a new interpretation of the language for premiums on overtime. They had successfully negotiated changes in the overtime provisions in bargaining, and decided to further their gains by just taking long established premiums away from members who were required to work during the night on overtime.
The contract called for at least an eight-hour break between the end of the overtime shift and the start of the next regular shift and was paid for the entire next day. The theory was, in our opinion, that a person would be tired from working the night before, but as a dedicated worker would still come in to work and do their normal duties, albeit at a premium rate; they were no less tired when the eight hours has elapsed, and therefore should continue the premium rate until they actually have eight hours free.
The GVRD decided that, as there was reference elsewhere in the collective agreement to shift work, that an overtime shift must be a shift defined, and because the only shifts defined were 12 hours, 8 hours, 7 and ½ hour and 7 hour, (they magnanimously decided to choose the shortest one) the overtime shift must be defined as lasting at least 7 hours in duration, or no overtime would be paid the next day, regardless of the length of time between the overtime shift ending and the start of the next day shift. The went further to say that when the overtime did apply (on those overtime shifts that lasted in excess of 7 hours) that they were only obliged to pay for those 8 hours after the shift ended. For example, if the overtime shift ended at 2:00 am and the regular start time is 7:00 am then only 5 hours have elapsed, therefore the hours between 7:00 and 10:00 would draw overtime, and after that the employee would revert to straight time.
At the arbitration, we submitted that the employer was wrong in both interpretations, but at the very least should have to bargain the latter issue and be estopped from implementing that interpretation.
Arbitrator David McPhillips heard the case and rendered this Award.