"I think this decision provides some closure for our members. It acknowledges that there was a problem and sets us on the right path to fix that problem." — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President.
Winnipeg (07 March 2018) — On February 28, arbitrator Arne Peltz, issued his ruling in a respectful workplace grievance that was filed by Winnipeg ambulance paramedics against their boss: John Lane, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief.
Chief maligned EMS workers in presentation, breached policy
The grievance was based on a presentation Chief Lane made about the city's integrated paramedic-fire service model at a firefighters conference in August 2015. The conference brochure stated that the fire-based model was being "continuously threatened by single-role EMS providers and misinformed leaders.”
Paramedic members of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE) felt that it was inappropriate for the Chief to present on the subject given his duty to represent both firefighters and ambulance paramedics.
Lane issued an apology on November 10, 2016, but in yesterday’s decision Peltz felt that apology was too little, too late. He agreed with the MGEU/NUGPE’s position that the chief breached respectful workplace policies and ordered the City to pay damages to each one of the 350 members of the bargaining unit.
“I’m pleased for our members of the Local. I think the ruling validates their concerns,” said Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President. “I know the last thing they wanted was for their workplace issues to be broadcast all over the news, but now we have an opportunity to change the workplace culture and move forward.”
Arbitrator ordered formal session to repair damaged relationship
In the ruling, Peltz provided some direction on how the 2 sides will move forward. He ordered Chief Lane and the MGEU Local 911 executive to meet within 6 weeks in a formal session led by an external professional workplace facilitator, in a process designed to repair the damage to the relationship.
Gawronsky is optimistic that meeting will be a productive first step in creating a more respectful workplace for everyone in the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
“At the end of the day, all any of us really want is to be valued and respected for the work we do. I think this decision provides some closure for our members. It acknowledges that there was a problem and sets us on the right path to fix that problem," Gawronsky said.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE