The BC Labour Relations Board recently denieda union’s application to include an Employee Benefits Specialist in itsbargaining unit even though many of the duties of the position had previouslybeen performed by a bargaining unit position.
The employer created the new excludedposition following the retirement of the incumbent in the former bargainingunit position. Although the positionshad many duties in common, the employer argued that the new position should beexcluded because it was also tasked with analyzing data and makingrecommendations that affected the employer’s position in collective bargaining.In addition, the position required access to databases maintained by theemployer’s sector labour relations association, as well as confidentialinformation about employees. According to the employer, he Specialist’s recommendationsbased on this confidential information could have significant cost impacts forthe employer and the union’s members.
The union conceded that some of the Specialist’sresponsibilities were non-bargaining unit duties but argued that those duties shouldbe assigned to another management position and the employer should restore the oldposition with its original duties.
The Board held that the analysis of confidentialinformation and making recommendations based on research from confidentialsources were duties which justified the exclusion of the position from the bargainingunit, particularly because that information was included in employer collectivebargaining strategies related to cost control. The Board also rejected theunion’s contention that the position could be altered to remove thenon-bargaining unit functions, finding that the employer had created an entirelynew position rather than merely “sprinkling” excluded duties among those fromthe former position. The Board further found that the knowledge and skillsrequired for the Specialist position were significantly different from thoserequired for the former job, and that there were no other excluded employeeswith the expertise or capacity to take on the Specialist’s responsibilities. Theexclusion was confirmed.