Unilateral wage increase doesn’t violate agreement: Arbitrator

Union didn't bargain for right to approve changes in pay structure as long is it didn't decrease
|Canadian Employment Law Today

An arbitrator has ruled an Alberta company doesn’t need union approval to raise the wages for a particular position.

Lilydale, a poultry processing company in Edmonton, was having problems recruiting and retaining workers at its turkey processing plant in the summer of 2007. This led to too much overtime, which in turn led to increased absenteeism. Concerned about the production requirements of the upcoming Thanksgiving season, Lilydale tried to attract workers by increasing the starting pay and compressing the wage progression for a particular job in the plant. The starting pay increased by $2 per hour and an employee would reach the maximum rate after 12 months of employment. Previously, it took 24 months to reach the maximum pay rate. The maximum rate did not change.

Lilydale also implemented a referral program, which would award employees who referred successful applicants to the company up to $2,000 for each referred new hire who stayed for a year.