An “in dispute” declaration by the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation which caused staffing difficulties in the Mission School District has been declared void by the B.C. Labour Relations Board.
The BCTF issued the “in dispute” declaration to protest the School District’s use of a screening questionnaire for external applicants to teaching positions. BCTF members faced fines, levies or other sanctions, up to and including suspension or expulsion from the BCTF, if they applied for and accepted a position with the School District.
The School District applied for relief under section 70 of the Labour Relations Code, under which the Board may hold such declarations to be void for all purposes.
The Board found that some applicants had withdrawn from postings after learning of the BCTF’s declaration, leaving the School District unable to properly staff all its teaching positions. It held this form of pressure to be improper during the term of the collective agreement and that the grievance arbitration process was the appropriate dispute resolution mechanism for this matter. The Board also noted that section 27(3)(a) of the School Act specifically excludes the selection and appointment process from the scope of collective bargaining. Accordingly, the BCTF’s declaration could not be used mid-contract to achieve that which the union could not achieve through collective bargaining.
The Board rejected the BCTF’s argument that a section 70 declaration would infringe on its members’ freedom of expression under section 2(b) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
(Click here for Section 70 of the Labour Relations Code)
(Click here for full text of the Decision)