Arbitrator backs union's interpretation of mmorandum

In a decision that will have important benefits for all locals, labour arbitrator Vince Ready has ruled that a letter of understanding and ensuing process and criteria document dealing with professional development is subject to the grievance provisions in our collective agreements.

In a decision that will have important benefits for all locals, labour arbitrator Vince Ready has ruled that a letter of understanding and ensuing process and criteria document dealing with professional development is subject to the grievance provisions in our collective agreements. The arbitration was initiated after the Kwantlen Faculty Association was told by their senior administration that their 2005 letter of understanding on professional development could not be grieved.

The letter of understanding on professional development was part of Kwantlen's March 2005 Memorandum of Agreement which detailed the terms and conditions for renewing their 2004-2007 collective agreement. As Ready noted in his decision, the Memorandum "states unequivocally that the Collective Agreement shall include the letter of understanding on professional development funding negotiated at the Multi-Institutional Discussions (MID) table." From Ready's perspective, that inclusion in the collective agreement meant that the letter and process and criteria document were subject to the grievance and arbitration provisions of the agreement.

In advancing the union's case before arbitrator Ready, FPSE Labour Relations Staff Representative Lesley Burke argued that the parties to a collective agreement cannot contract out of the provisions in Part 8 of BC's Labour Relations Code. That legislation spells out clearly that every collective agreement must contain provisions for dispute resolution during the term of the agreement. As well, Burke argued that the 2005 Memorandum clearly stated that the letter of understanding on professional development would be part of the new collective agreement.

In commenting on the Ready decision, FPSE President Cindy Oliver noted that the arbitrator's ruling is another example of how the Federation's approach to defending our collective agreements is working for every member. "We took on this arbitration because it had enormous implications for every FPSE Local. If an employer is able to sidestep commitments made at the bargaining table through a letter of understanding, the integrity of our collective agreements is undermined. We needed to demonstrate that current and future letters of understanding can't be ignored or discounted by our employers. This decision is a very important win for all our locals," Oliver concluded.

For the full text of the Ready decision click here.

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for more information please contact
Phillip Legg
Staff Representative, Communications and Policy
(604) 788-2877
e-mail plegg@fpse.ca

About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.