TERRACE – “We knew going into this arbitration that the employer was ignoring the collective agreement,” said Cindy Oliver, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE), one of two unions representing the faculty at Northwest Community College.
“Unfortunately, the administration at Northwest decided to follow an expensive and time-consuming litigation that has undermined labour relations at the college,” said Kevin Rose, National Representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the other union that represents faculty at Northwest.
At issue in the arbitration was the employer’s decision to issue layoff notices to faculty members in 2012. The two unions contended that the layoff notices violated terms and conditions spelled out in the local collective agreement. As well the arbitrator ruled that in a number of instances the employer’s actions towards individual faculty members not only violated their rights under the collective agreement, those employees also suffered material losses and under the arbitrator’s award, those employees are now entitled to additional relief.
Both Oliver and Rose stressed that the arbitration would not have been necessary had the employer simply followed the terms of the collective agreement. “Going to arbitration is a very expensive process, and in this case was completely unnecessary, but the administration at NWCC simply ignored our initial advice that their approach to the layoffs was wrong-headed. Had the employer taken the time to consider our advice, they could have spared faculty the stress and strain of this process. Add to that the fact that NWCC has been facing budget pressures and it raises serious doubts about the approach that senior administrators have taken during this dispute,” the two union representatives noted.