The B.C. Court of Appeal has restored teachers’ rights to grieve class sizes, overturning an arbitrator’s decision that he lacked jurisdiction to interpret class size provisions in the School Act and Class Size Regulation.
The arbitrator had determined he did not have jurisdiction to hear a grievance from the BC Teachers’ Federation alleging certain school boards had violated statutory class size provisions. He held that the legislation, enacted in 2002, expressly removed the issue of class size from the collective bargaining process. As a result, unions could no longer grieve allegations of class size violations.
The BC Court of Appeal reversed the arbitrator’s decision, finding class size is a significant term of teachers’ employment. Further, a breach of the statutory class size provisions could affect other collective agreement provisions by leading to lay-offs, dismissals or stress amongst teachers. Therefore, the Union’s grievance could proceed before the arbitrator.