Hamilton City Hall west face Credit: Joey Coleman / The Public Record

CUPE 5167, the City’s largest union, went to arbitration to argue its 4000+ members are entitled to have the federal National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a paid holiday each year on September 30.

[The Hamilton Police Services Board granted NDTR as a holiday to all police officers and employees]

In late December ruling, Ontario arbitrator Mark Wright ruled the union’s collective agreement does not grant them new federal holidays.

Hamilton’s’ collective agreement gives city employees all provincial holidays. It does not grant the federal holiday on Remembrance Day.

The agreement states: “New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Civic Holiday, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day and such other holidays as may be proclaimed or declared by law.  [emphasis added]”

The union argued the emphasized section captured NDTR because the federal holiday was proclaimed by law.

The city argued the clause must be read in its entirety, reflecting only provincial holidays, due to the exclusion of Remembrance Day, a federal holiday, and inclusion of Family Day, a provincial holiday.

Wright determined he had to adopt the City’s position against granting the new holiday because “to the extent that I find the phrase is ambiguous and lacks specificity, that finding hurts the Union’s position because the case law is clear: if a union asserts its members are entitled to a monetary benefit, it must do so based on clear, unequivocal language.”

(TPR is watching a labour negotiation in another municipality where NDTR is a key issue. If NDTR is granted in that negotiation, it may establish “pattern bargaining” that eventually leads all Ontario municipalities to give NDTR as a holiday for employees.)

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Published: January 17, 2024
Last edited: January 17, 2024
Author: Joey Coleman
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One reply on “City’s Largest Union Fails to Get National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a Paid Holiday”

  1. Hello,
    I would like to ensure accurate information. While it is CUPE Local 5167, it was our Collective Agreement under our lodges unit (Macassa and Wentworth) with a total of 628 employees
    Jason Lucas
    Acting President
    CUPE Local 5167

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