Yesterday, arbitrator Arne Peltz issued his ruling in a respectful workplace grievance that was filed by Winnipeg ambulance paramedics against their boss: Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Chief John Lane.
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.”
MGEU paramedics 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’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 MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “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.”
In the ruling, Peltz provided some direction on how the two sides will move forward. He ordered Chief Lane and the MGEU Local 911 executive to meet within six 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.”