Home Arbitration/Labour Relations Arbitrator rules on wages, shift premiums for University of Waterloo’s special constables and communications operators

Arbitrator rules on wages, shift premiums for University of Waterloo’s special constables and communications operators

by HR Law Canada

An arbitration hearing held on Oct. 24, 2023, concluded with an award that delineates new wage structures and other provisions for Special Constables and Communications Operators at the University of Waterloo.

The arbitration was overseen by William Kaplan, the sole arbitrator for the case, and was called under section 40 of the Labour Relations Act to settle a first collective agreement between the university and OPSEU, Local 231, the union representing these employees.


The union, which was certified on Dec. 11, 2020, represents 19 Special Constables (also referred to as Patrol Officers) and 4 Communications Operators (also referred to as Dispatchers) responsible for safety and security on the university’s campuses.

The bargaining parties have been in talks throughout 2021 and 2022, with conciliation taking place from February to May 2023. Several provisions of the collective agreement had been previously resolved.

Unresolved Issues

The arbitration focused on remaining unresolved issues, including wages, 12-hour shift premiums, clothing and equipment, and the Acting Sergeant provision.

In making his award, Kaplan paid careful attention to normative interest arbitration criteria relevant to first collective agreement arbitration and the replication of free collective bargaining.

Award Details

The term of the collective agreement, as agreed by both parties, runs from May 1, 2021, to April 30, 2024.


  • Effective May 1, 2021: A 3% increase on wages.
  • Effective May 1, 2022: Another 3% increase.
  • Effective May 1, 2023: A 3.5% increase.

No clawbacks will be applied if anyone was paid in excess of these increases. The award also mandates the development of a wage grid effective in the next collective agreement. Starting salaries have been set at $65,000 for Special Constables and $55,000 for Communications Operators.

12-Hour Shift Premium: Employees working 12-hour shifts will receive a monthly premium of $121.80.

Clothing and Equipment: Molle Load Bearing Vests have been awarded as part of the collective agreement.

Acting Sergeant Provision: Special Constables with six years of active service may volunteer for an Acting Sergeant designation program. Upon completion, they will be eligible for assignment as Acting Sergeants, receiving a pay premium for the role.

The agreement is retroactive on all wages to current employees and to those on staff as of May 1, 2023.

For more information, see University of Waterloo v OPSEU, Local 231 (Special Constables & Communications Operators), 2023 CanLII 98366 (ON LA)

You may also like

About Us

HR Law Canada is dedicated to covering labour and employment news for lawyers, HR professionals and employers. Published by North Wall Media.