Friday, December 23, 2011


  1. Wesley N. Emerson LL. B. (Osgoode Hall), LL. M. in Law of Employment Relations (Leicester) Extensive experience in Labour Law and Labour Relations
            • Residence: 204-453-8096
    • 342-2245 Portage Ave.
    • Winnipeg, Manitoba
    • R3J 0L9
  2. Post Law School
    • After graduation, I worked at the Ministry of Community and Social Services in Employee Relations.
    • I gave advice on contract interpretation, discipline, etc.
    • I acted as counsel for over 20 grievance arbitrations.
    • After 4 years, I decided to get called to the Bar.
  3. Ontario Labour Relations Board
    • I knew I wanted to continue in the field of labour relations.
    • The OLRB was an obvious choice.
    • It was a great learning experience:
      • I read a significant amount of OLRB jurisprudence.
      • I was exposed to the nuts and bolts of certification, Labour Board Officer proceedings, etc.
  4. My First Job as a Lawyer
    • Hired as Labour Relations Counsel for a company that managed retirement homes.
    • A number of the homes were unionized, two were recently certified and the company was dedicated to keeping the rest non-union.
    • Six months after hiring, VP HR and Legal left and I was told “You do it.”
    • I became Chief Negotiator.
  5. Settling a Strike on Good Terms
    • OLRB sees retirement homes as ‘hospitals’ thus governed by HLDA which prohibits strikes, but it’s an application-based system and neither party wanted Interest Arbitration.
    • NDP banned replacement workers.
    • Based on jurisprudence, advised how residents of home could purchase their own care during strike while we ran home using excluded staff.
    • A risky strategy but by the time SEIU took us to OLRB, we sharpened our pencils and, instead of litigating UFLP complaint, an LBO mediated a settlement.
    • Wages were $1.50 less than Interest Arbitrators awarded to other retirement homes.
  6. The End of My First Job as a Lawyer
    • After 4 ½ years, two 1 st contract negotiations, six renewals, one strike, three certifications, and countless Labour Board hearings
    • I learned about:
      • practice of labour law,
      • business of labour relations and
      • art of delivering labour relations services.
    • I also learned how to collect debts through the courts and how to use threat of eviction to collect rents in arrears.
  7. The Law Firm of Wesley N. Emerson
    • After completing a course on how to run a small business, I opened my law practice.
    • A good friend was Business Agreement for IUOE and I set up shop with him: an office in return for advice.
    • In addition to representing IUOE at hearings and arbitrations, I advised employees.
    • Alas, HO in Washington, D.C. put IUOE into trusteeship, moved location and eliminated budget for legal fees.
  8. Simpsons & IUOE (Samuels)
    • But before we parted ways, I won reinstatement at arbitration of a Steam Engineer who Employer claimed was obscenely insubordinate and threatened to kill his supervisor.
    • Preparation and cross-examination skills were crucial:
      • Get the admission: “he said I wouldn’t be alive Monday a.m.”
      • Point out what grievor will say in examination-in-chief: “…if we’re both alive Monday a.m.”
      • Get witness to adopt grievor’s version: “Now that you put in that way, that is what he said.”
  9. Food on the Table & a Roof Over My Head: Part 1
    • Premier Harris abolished legislation providing for transfer of union recognition when Government transferred services
    • ...but labour relations abhors a vacuum.
    • Next collective agreement obliged Government to make “reasonable efforts” to find displaced employee jobs with new Employer at similar salaries, etc
    • I picked up a one year contract back at Ministry of Community and Social Service advising on labour relations issues of transferring social services to municipalities.
  10. Food on the Table & a Roof Over My Head: Part 2
    • I picked another contract doing non-union employee relations for a large Federally-regulated employer with several locations across Canada and a few HR growing pains.
    • I advise on Canada Labour Code , general employment law and Human Rights matters.
  11. A Lesson Learned
    • For those two years, I missed collective bargaining and litigation.
    • I decided I wanted to work with an organization offering significant and structured exposure to collective bargaining, a place where I could learn from others as I was largely self-taught.
    • I moved to Edmonton to join the Provincial Health Authorities of Alberta.
    • It was a mistake: I am a negotiator and a litigator whereas they wanted a facilitator.
  12. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
    • My parents sent me a clipping from the Winnipeg Free Press.
    • The Government of Manitoba was looking for a Labour Relations person.
    • I left Winnipeg in 1981.
    • 20 years later, I returned.
  13. Since 2001: Labour Relations Officer Province of Manitoba
    • Chief Negotiator at collective bargaining.
    • Counsel at grievance arbitrations and classification appeals.
    • Mentor to Labour Relations Officers in the preparation and presentation of grievance arbitration.
  14. Training and Development
    • Developed and presented one–day
    • workshops for Province of Manitoba :
    • Managing under the Collective
    • Agreement
    • Discipline and Grievance Handling
    • Preparing and Presenting Classification Appeals
    • Adapted, Updated and Implemented
    • Grievance Arbitration Training Manual for
    • Manitoba Government Labour Relations
    • Officers.
    • In April 2006, I attended the two-day “Negotiating the Labour Agreement” at the Harvard Program on Negotiation , a hands-on seminar on using Interest Based Bargaining.
    • I was fortunate to have lunch with Professor Robert McKersie, co-author of A Behavioral Theory of Labor Negotiations and Strategic Negotiations: A Theory of Change in Labor-Management Relations with whom I discussed my intent to apply the later theory to the public sector in Canada in my LL. M. dissertation [which I did!].
  16. “ Negotiating the Labour Agreement”
    • The hands-on seminar gave me the opportunity to learn and apply the skills used during Interest Based Bargaining.
    • Not all bargaining demands create conflicts of interest.

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