The Labour Relations department provides labour relations services to 15 member municipalities and to Metro Vancouver. Another 20 plus organizations that are related to these member municipalities - such as commissions, boards and associations are also beneficiaries of labour relations services delivered through this voluntary service delivery model.
On behalf of its members, the Labour Relations Department:
- negotiates collective agreements
- evaluates and reclassifies jobs
- assists in managing human rights issues
- provides WCB-related expertise
- researches key collective bargaining information like pay and benefit levels in the marketplace.
The Labour Relations function has evolved from efforts to formalize consultation in collective bargaining matters amongst three municipalities to a function that now provides services to 35 employers including the Metro Vancouver.
From the development of the Joint Liaison Committee on Labour Relations in 1964 to the incorporation of the Labour Relations function under the auspices of the GVRD (now Metro Vancouver), and the eventual inclusion of the GVRD itself as a member of the function in 1982, what is now the Labour Relations Department has evolved to continually meet the needs of its members.
Joint Liaison Committee on Labour Relations
The first steps to formalize consultation and collaboration in collective bargaining matters were taken in 1964 when the City of Vancouver, the City of New Westminster and the District of Burnaby established the Joint Liaison Committee on Labour Relations. This action was prompted by the increasing sophistication of the municipal trade unions' approach to collective bargaining and the unions success at utilizing whip-sawing tactics to consistently produce settlement levels in the Lower Mainland municipalities which could not be justified by reference to either the public or private sectors.
Municipal Labour Relations Bureau
The effects of leading both the public and private sectors on total compensation costs created an unwarranted inflation of municipal budgets, greatly reduced the political opportunities available to respond to alternate spending priorities, and necessitated choices between transferring increased costs to the taxpayer or reducing levels of service. These impacts in turn created a recognition that the level of consultation and coordination provided by the Joint Liaison Committee must be significantly enhanced; a means had to be found for the municipalities, without sacrificing their individual autonomy, to resist whip-sawing and resist duplicating excessive settlements concluded elsewhere in the region or province. Therefore, in 1965 the Municipal Labour Relations Bureau (MLRB) was formed to provide common negotiating, research, and advisory services to its members.
By the early 1970's, the MLRB had established a common wage policy for its members based upon community norms, introduced a standardized job evaluation system to assist in maintaining equivalent rates for similar work and succeeded in adjusting wage rates and benefit levels so as to more closely reflect the community standard for comparable work.
Incorporation in the GVRD
In 1974, by which time the MLRB was bargaining on behalf of eleven employers, the function was incorporated pursuant to Supplementary Letters Patent under the auspices of the GVRD. The Letters Patent provided for the governance of a voluntary group of employers to coordinate their approach to collective bargaining and to establish centralized job evaluation services to support the goals of the group. In 1982 the Supplementary Letters Patent were amended to provide for membership of the Regional District itself in the GVRD Labour Relations function.
From the establishment of the MLRB through the late 1970's the membership grew to include the majority of municipalities. The group membership remained consistent until the late 1980's when the City of Langley and the Township of Langley joined. In the early part of the 1990's the membership grew once again when Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows joined. Most recently (2003) the Village of Lion's Bay entered the function.
While there was growth there have also been contractions in the membership. Following the conclusion of the 2000 - 2002 round of bargaining the City of Richmond withdrew from the function. The current membership includes 15 municipalities and the Metro Vancouver, albeit the function provides services to 35 plus employers with over 60 collective agreements.