Layoff notices at B.C. college violated contract

Arbitrator awards additional relief to laid-off faculty
||Last Updated: 01/07/2014

A college in British Columbia is getting a lesson in following the rules.

After issuing layoff notices to its faculty in 2012, Northwest Community College – based in Terrace, B.C. – was found in violation of the collective agreement, an arbitrator ruled on Jan. 3.

According to Rod Germaine, who presided over the case, the manner in which layoff notices were given violated the terms and conditions spelled out in the collective agreement. As well, Germaine noted the college’s actions towards individual faculty staff members also led to material losses – and under the arbitrator’s award, meant those employees were entitled to additional relief.

“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 of B.C. (FPSE), one of the two unions representing faculty members at the college.

“Unfortunately, the administration at Northwest decided to follow an expensive and time-consuming litigation that has undermined labour relations at the college,” added Kevin Rose, national representative for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). “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.”

Administration at Northwest college said they are ready to move on.

“I am pleased with the efforts that have been made by both the college and the union to take collective responsibility and identify solutions what will allow the college to move forward,” said Denise Henning, president and CEO of the college. “The administration will continue to work proactively with the unions to ensure that we address the conclusions of the arbitration as determined by (the arbitrator) and by the mutually agreed upon terms and conditions found in our collective agreement.”

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