Tuesday, March 29, 2011

LRB orders employer to provide information to the union

In  Port Transport Inc and CAW, a decision issued by the LRB on March 23, 2011 Vice Chair Topalian declared that Port Transport Inc had committed an unfair labour practice by refusing to provide the union with the following information:
a)  a current contact list containing the names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of all members of the bargaining unit,
b) specific information on each bargaining unit member including name, date of birth, benefit coverage (single,family, enrolled, not eligible, etc.), wage rate(s), premium(s),job classification(s) and any other form of remuneration including but not limited to vacation entitlement, and any profit-sharing, incentive or bonus plans in effect, and
c)actual data on usage and cost on all areas of any benefit plan for the past three (3) years.

The employer argued that it was not obliged to provide this information without the written consent of each affected employee.   The union argued that it required the information in order to engage in rational discussions at collective bargaining and to properly cost out its proposal in relation to wage rates, premiums and benefits.  It also said that it required the information to be able to communicate with the members of the bargaining unit and discharge its obligations under the Labour Code.  The employer had not provided any sound business concerns for not disclosing the information requested. 

Vice Chair Topalian reviewed the Board's jurisprudence in P.Sun's Enterprises B301/2003 and in The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson's Bay, (my favourite case name of all time!) B226/2004, and ordered the employer to provide the information. 

This is a very good decision that unions should take note of and apply as they prepare for collective bargaining.

Monday, March 14, 2011

BC Court of Appeal--standard of review of Human Rights Tribunal Decisions

In Lavender Co-Op Housing the BC Court of Appeal today upheld a lower court's decision that overturned the BC Human Right's tribunal finding of prima facie discrimination on the basis of marital status against the membership rules of a cooperative housing society.. For those interested in the "standard of review" this is a good case on the applicable standard to questions of "mixed law and facts" (and yes, it is correctness).  For the rest of us, the case confirms that prima facie discrimination is established  not by a comparative analysis, but by determining whether the conduct complained of is prohibited under the Human Rights Code by definition. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

First collective agreement--retroactive imposition is okay

In Osprey Care v. HEU issued on March 1, 2011, Vice Chair Ritu Mahil of the BC LRB dismissed Osprey’s application for review of an arbitrator’s decision in which, in the course of imposing a first collective agreement under s.55 of the Code, Arbitrator Vince Ready made the collective agreement retroactive to February 24, 2010 and set out an expedited process by which certain outstanding grievances would be resolved. The employer argued the arbitrator exceeded his jurisdiction.

Prior to the appointment of Vince Ready as binding mediator/arbitrator, a mediator had been appointed under s.74 of the Code and issued non-binding recommendations for a first collective agreement. The union accepted those recommendations on February 24, 2010. The employer rejected the recommendations and Mr. Ready was appointed in March 2010 to mediate/arbitrate the collective bargaining dispute. Mediation failed.

At the arbitration the employer stated it had changed its position; it now accepted the first mediator's recommendations and therefore there was nothing more to arbitrate. HEU did not agree asserting that the arbitrator had authority to deal with the effective date of the collective agreement and with the employment disputes that had arisen between the parties. The Board upheld Mr. Ready’s award,  finding that the Board’s previous decision in Royal City Manor B27/95 established that s.55 arbitrators could impose first contracts retroactively. Further Vice Chair Mahil ruled that a purposive interpretation of s.55 allowed the arbitrator to not only impose a first collective agreement, but to address “seething issues” between the parties in order to aid the “goal of establishing enduring bargaining relationships”. The order that outstanding disputes be resolved by a process of expedited arbitrations was upheld.

One should note that Vince Ready was one of the three members of the Commission appointed by the NDP government in 1991 that recommended revisions to the Labour Code, including the current first collective agreement provisions found in s. 55 of the Code.

Osprey Care is a for profit care facility in Kamloops.