strikes

Is the BC Government Bargaining in Bad Faith?

This week, the British Columbia government announced that if the current strike by the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) extends into the start of the new school year, parents of public school students under the age of 13 will receive $40 per day for as long as the strike lasts. The reaction to this announcement was less than positive. Many parents stated they would sooner see the money go into funding public education or settling a collective agreement with the BCTF, and a University of Victoria economist pointed out how poorly organized the plan seemed to be. But another question that was raised in the discussions of the plan was: in announcing that plan, was the BC government bargaining in bad faith?

It isn’t easy to answer that question with a definitive “yes” or “no”.  And here’s why. (more…)

BC Labour Relations Board: IKEA Is Bargaining In Bad Faith

I’ve written several previous posts about the labour dispute at the IKEA store in Richmond, British Columbia, which has seen unionized workers locked out for more than a year.

In May, the union representing the workers, Teamsters Local 213, filed a complaint with the British Columbia Labour Relations Board (LRB) about IKEA’s actions. The union alleged that IKEA was trying to undercut the union’s role as the workers’ representative in bargaining, by offering financial inducements to workers to cross picket lines and return to their jobs.

On Friday, July 25, the LRB ruled that (more…)

The BC Public School Employers’ Association and Its Bargaining Dispute with The BC Teachers’ Federation

This week, the British Columbia Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) – the employers’ representative in the current collective agreement negotiations with the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) – released a background document analyzing the BCTF’s most recent bargaining proposals. In the same week,  The Tyee news website featured several past bargaining participants saying that the two parties’ attitudes have always been a barrier to concluding an agreement. In that context, the BCPSEA backgrounder deserves some closer attention, because, in my opinion, it is (more…)

The Coalition of BC Businesses and the BC Teachers’ Federation Court Case

The Coalition of BC Businesses has announced that it has applied for intervenor status in the British Columbia government’s appeal of the BC Supreme Court ruling ordering the government to restore certain language to its collective agreement with the BC Teachers’ Federation. Intervenor status gives an applicant the right to participate in the case proceedings, and to make submissions to the court on the legal issues involved in the case. The full text of the original Supreme Court ruling is here, and here is the text of the Court of Appeal decision staying the implementation of the ruling until the appeal process has been completed.

I don’t have access to the Coalition’s complete application for intervenor status, but I want to make a few comments on (more…)

A Look at the British Columbia Government’s Ad in the Teachers’ Bargaining Dispute

In a high-profile collective bargaining situation, it’s not at all unusual for both unions and employers to try to sway public opinion in their favour. And the current bargaining dispute between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the British Columbia provincial government is no exception. The dispute – which has now escalated into a full-out strike  – has been full of seemingly back-to-back press conferences by each side, and extensive use of social media to spread each side’s messages. However, on Friday, June 20, the government took its public relations campaign to a new level by buying a full-page ad on the front page of Vancouver’s 24 Hours newspaper.

I want to take a closer look at this ad – not only because it appeared in one of Vancouver’s highest-circulation daily newspapers  the day after BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender stated “it is not my intent to bargain in the media” – but also because its content includes
(more…)

Two Other British Columbia Labour Disputes to Watch

This morning, 41,000 public school teachers in British Columbia went on strike, after nearly a year of negotiations and a partial lockout by the provincial government.

While this is undoubtedly a major event in BC labour relations, I’d like to draw your attention to two other current labour disputes going on in BC. Neither has received a significant amount of media attention, but both are worth keeping an eye on. (more…)

A Missed Opportunity in the British Columbia Teachers’ Labour Dispute

As the Canadian readers of this blog know, British Columbia’s elementary and secondary school teachers are currently engaged in a series of rotating strikes, because of the lack of progress in negotiations for a new collective agreement. The British Columbia government has responded by declaring a partial lockout, in which teachers will have restricted access to school property. The government also instituted a 10% pay cut for teachers, claiming that the teachers are not carrying out all of their job duties. (The government and the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) spent an entire day in a hearing at the BC Labour Relations Board, arguing over the legality of the government’s actions; the LRB eventually dismissed the BCTF’s complaint, ruling that the government’s actions were within the parameters of the agreed-upon essential services guidelines.)

I’ve done (more…)

Getting It Right About Canadian Unions’ Rights

The Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF) is a Calgary-based organization that bills itself as “Freedom’s defense team”. Although the CCF claims it is “non-partisan” and “politically neutral”, the legal cases it undertakes have a common theme of anti-government-regulation  – cases involving challenges to the Canadian health care system, challenges to government food safety regulations, and challenges to aboriginal self-government.

With that questionable record of “neutrality”, I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised by a column written by Karen Selick, the CCF’s litigation director, which strongly criticized Canadian unions for allegedly having a “battery of privileges that should have no place in a free society“.  Well, expressing a strong opinion is one thing. Using selective and misleading information to support that opinion is another thing altogether.

The context of Selick’s anti-union diatribe is (more…)

“What Not to Buy” Update

I’m very happy to report that the nearly year-long strike at Labatt Breweries in St. John’s, NL, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, has ended.

The company and the union returned to collective bargaining with the aid of a conciliation officer, and the resulting collective agreement (more…)

Changing the Story: A Visit with the Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union

I recently returned from presenting a paper at the 8th Annual Colloquium of Current Scholarship on Employment and Labor Law, a conference that was started by a group of American law professors, and hosted this year by the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Although I am not a lawyer or a law professor, and although there are some pretty significant differences between American and Canadian labor and employment law, this particular conference is always extremely rewarding. The program is very inclusive – people present research at all stages of development, from potential ideas to already published books and articles – so I always learn a lot and meet really interesting people.

There was some excellent research presented at the conference itself, but what I want to talk about in this post is an event that for me, as a Canadian, was (more…)