Decision reached in college arbitration hearing

Union representing the Northwest Community College faculty involved calls it a "major victory"

An arbitration hearing over how a layoff process unfolded at Northwest Community College (NWCC) in 2012 has resulted in a decision that will see some faculty compensated by the college for lost wages.

Members of both unions representing the faculty said that the arbitration decision reinforces the collective agreement, while the college said it has learned some lessons in how to negotiate future labour deals.

“We were successful on all of our major points,” said Kevin Rose, National Representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees. “The remedies the arbitrator awarded were everything the union had asked for, so I would say we see this as a major victory.”

The arbitration took one year, with 18 hearings held throughout 2013, and a final decision released Dec. 30. Both sides hired lawyers and also paid fees for what was called a lengthy arbitration period.

In arbitrator Rod Germaine’s ruling papers, he states that the original dispute began when faculty at the various campuses across the northwest were sent a preliminary layoff notice by the college’s administration that indicated cuts were needed to make up for a deficit of more than $1 million.

The unions quickly responded by charging that the correct procedures were not followed leading up to the announcement.

Ultimately 10 layoff notices were issued, with four going to arbitration together, and another separately.

Cindy Oliver, president of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) said that several faculty members took early retirement and that other adjustments were negotiated by the unions, thus minimizing the layoff impacts, but that college administrators had initially “botched the whole process.”

The arbitration papers show that two faculty members will receive financial compensation for missed time on top of “declaratory relief in relation to both the breakdown of the joint layoff committee process under Article 11.2.2 and the violation of their seniority rights” awarded to all four grievors.

The arbitrator also said that “the grievors’ joint layoff committees did not perform their responsibilities under Article 11.2.2.”

President and CEO of NWCC, Denise Henning, sees some positives in the decision.

“What I can say is that Mr. Germaine found the college to be reasonable in handling the overall layoff process. Where there were issues, the majority were a result of a significantly compressed timeline that was imposed through a labour relations board solution,” she said.

“I think it also gives us clarity for bargaining discussions in the future,” Henning added.

Oliver says a lot of money could have been saved if the collective agreement had been followed in the first place and a drawn out arbitration avoided.

“It seems like an odd way to spend money when they could have sat down with the union and worked things out,” said Oliver. “We understand there were some financial pressures at Northwest but frankly to decide to bull ahead, it made no sense to anybody.”

Henning said that the college cannot seek to appeal the arbitrator’s decision because it is binding to all parties.



Just Posted

College buys a yurt to boost student success

Round tent-like structure part of college instructional shift

Soup kitchen sees “groundswell of community support”

Donations toward looming tax bill push non-profit back in the black

Terrace husband and wife honoured for saving each other’s lives

BC Ambulance presented each a Vital Link Award for separate incidents of CPR

Council supports lobby for fair share of cannabis tax revenue

The City of Terrace is throwing its support behind a West Kelowna… Continue reading

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

Airport registers modest passenger increase

Manager anticipates further growth in 2018 as expansion project nears completion

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

B.C. commuters vote to rename bus service to ‘Jeff’

The company asked and the people of Facebook answered

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

‘Sing Me a Song’ about B.C. for a chance at $1,000 contest prize

Entries due by March 30 for lieutenant-governor’s British Columbia-themed competition

Facing reality of death, B.C. man learns real meaning of life

Even while preparing for the end, something inside Keven Drews won’t let him stop living

Most Read