Arbitrator Colin Taylor, QC recently issued a decision upholding a grievance challenging an employer’s right to require employees to pay a $5.00 prescription deductible under an extended health plan. The employer had imposed the deductible in response to an increase in premiums. It argued that it was entitled to implement the deductible, and pointed to previous unilateral changes the union had allowed it to make to benefit coverage for bargaining unit employees.
Arbitrator Taylor characterized the issue as “who pays the cost of the increases in the premiums during the term of the collective agreement”. He noted that the collective agreement required the employer to pay the full cost of premiums for the extended health benefits. As a result, he concluded that the employer could not pass on to employees an increased premium cost, either directly or in the form of a prescription deductible. The grievance was allowed.
University of Victoria Student Society v. United Steelworkers of America, Local Union 2952,  CLAD No. 175, May 17, 2004 (Taylor).