Sobeys' Dave Fearon says Nova Scotia's business reputation is at stake. ((CBC))

Grocery giant Sobeys is urging the Nova Scotia government to shelve its plan regarding first contracts with unions, saying it will hurt the province's economy.

Sobeys is the latest company to pan Bill 102, which critics describe as a job killer that would give unions a foothold in non-union workplaces.

Dave Fearon, vice-president of human resources, delivered a blunt message to the law amendments committee of the legislature on Monday.

"This legislative amendment is totally unnecessary and will do serious damage to Nova Scotia's reputation as an excellent place to work and indeed carry on business," he said.

The proposed law would give a government-appointed board or arbitrator the right to impose a one-year contract at a workplace where union and management have been unable to reach a first collective agreement after at least 120 days of bargaining and conciliation.

The NDP government says its would boost productivity by avoiding strikes or lockouts.

Fearon said no outside body should have the power to impose work conditions or salaries on Sobeys — Nova Scotia's largest private-sector employer.

'Mark against Nova Scotia'

"With this legislation in place I have to say that it's a mark against Nova Scotia, when competing with the likes of New Brunswick or P.E.I.," he said.

Nova Scotia won't be able to compete globally, he added.

"It's going to prevent organizations, companies from coming into Nova Scotia. And we will never understand fully the impact that that has on the economy of Nova Scotia. It's a whole different ball game ever since the fall of 2008 when our economy went to hell in a handbasket."

Earlier this month, Premier Darrell Dexter confirmed that Michelin opposes the first-contract proposal, but he said the tire company isn't threatening to leave.

The French-owned company has plants in Granton, Bridgewater and Waterville. Several attemps to unionize workers have failed.

Dexter said 80 per cent of Canadians are already covered by first contract arbitration.