In the 1980’s, a loose association of professional engineers, developed mostly within the Ministry of Transportation, attempted to gain recognition and status for professional engineers. The association was known as the Government of Ontario Professional Engineers Group (GOPEG).
Staff relations in the Government of Ontario are managed through Management Board Secretariat (MBS), who report in turn to the Management Board of Cabinet (MBC), and hence to the elected officials of the Ontario Government. In 1988, MBS commissioned Professor Paul Wieler to review the possibility and value of professional bargaining groups within the Ontario Public Service (OPS). Professor Wieler reported that overall, representation of crown and civil lawyers, doctors, architects and professional engineers would be beneficial to the government. Under the controlling regulations of the day, the Public Service Act and the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act (CECBA), only selected employees of the Ontario Government were permitted to be represented by a bargaining agent for the purposes of collective bargaining. Various groups formed, with the intent of gaining recognition and establishing mutual agreements with MBS for semi-formal recognition.
In February 1989, the founding meeting of the Professional Engineers of the Government of Ontario (PEGO) was held in Toronto. An interim constitution, executive and funding (from the dormant account of the predecessor organization GOPEG) were established.
In 1990, the provisional constitution was ratified together with the inclusion of Architects into the association. Formally, the association’s name was changed to “the Professional Engineers and Architects of Ontario,” but the acronym PEGO stuck by this time.
In 1994, with the changes in bargaining status for PEGO, recognizing the association as a full service bargaining agency, the name of the association was again formally changed to “The Professional Engineers and Architects of the Ontario Public Service” but again, the acronym PEGO, was maintained. Negotiations with MBS on recognition of PEGO began leading to the creation the Framework Agreement of October 1990. This framework agreement recognized approximately 700 engineers and 30 architects as the body of persons and positions for whom PEGO would bargain salaries.
PEGO achieved its first contract for salaries following an interest arbitration chaired by Mr. Namal Dissanayake in August of 1991, covering the period from January 1, 1990 to December 31, 1991.
As public sector employees, the members of PEGO were covered by the Social Contract Act of 1993, specifically we were the PEGO local agreement to the OPS Sectoral Agreement, which provided unpaid days known as “Rae Days” after the Premier who brought in the Social Contract. PEGO members got 10 days in 1993, 8 days in 1994 and 8 days in 1995.
In 1992, PEGO served notice that we wanted to continue bargaining salaries for that year and 1993. The negotiations broke down and again were headed to arbitration, this time under Mr. Morton Mitchnick. The Mitchnick Award was brought down in April of 1995, covering the period from January 1, 1992 to December 31, 1995.
In February of 1994, the government significantly altered the labour regulations of Ontario by amending the Labour Relations Act, the Public Service Act and the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act to extend full rights for representation and full collective bargaining to a much larger number of OPS employees, including the members of PEGO. As a consequence of these changes, the members of PEGO decided at the Annual General Meeting of 1994, to mandate the executive to seek recognition of PEGO as the rightful bargaining agent for professional engineers and architects in the OPS. In November of 1994, PEGO filed for bargaining agent status with the Labour Relations Board, and was granted an interim certificate (subject to the resolution of a large number of disputed positions) in January 1995.
In February 1995, PEGO served notice of intent to bargain a first full collective agreement. In November of 1995, the labour relations acts were again amended, removing the right of architects from collective bargaining. Later, by constitutional change, the architects were removed from PEGO, and in the early 2000’s, Ontario Land Surveyors were added to the fold.