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BC Labour Relations Board Issues Decision Confirming Invalid Strike Votes by CUPE
September 15, 2000

The BC Labour Relations has issued an appeal decision confirming its earlier ruling that four school board support staff strike votes by a CUPE local in four interior school districts were invalid. The appeal panel of three vice chairs specirfically upheld the reasoning and conclusions of the original panel. It expressed the prerequisite of minimum bargaining in these words:

“While arguably these two passages support the Union’s position that a mere exchange and explanation of proposals will suffice, in our view the more fundamental principle enunciated in these passages is that ‘discussion’ in this context requires at a minimum an ‘exchange of views’. We cannot agree that the requirement will be satisfied where one party merely presents and explains its proposals at the bargaining table but does not afford the other party a reasonable opportunity to respond before moving to vote on industrial action. In our view, a ‘one-way’ discussion of this kind would in most circumstances be insufficient to satisfy the requirement for an ‘exchange of views’. In order for the discussion to allow an ‘exchange of views’ to take place, the other party must be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to the first party’s proposals or position, at least to the point of identifying which key or central issues are in dispute.”

The four school boards, the Okanagan Labour Relations Council and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association were represented throughout by Harris & Company counsel.