Labour board dismisses complaint by person saying union didn't stand up for unvaccinated members

·2 min read
A CUPE member complained to the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board that the union had not represented unvaccinated workers fairly, but the board disagreed. (Matthew Howard/CBC - image credit)
A CUPE member complained to the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board that the union had not represented unvaccinated workers fairly, but the board disagreed. (Matthew Howard/CBC - image credit)

The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board has tossed out a complaint by a person who says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) did not fairly represent unvaccinated workers.

The person, who works for the Saskatchewan Health Association and is a CUPE member, objected to the Saskatchewan Health Authority's proof of vaccination policy last fall and wanted the union to fight the policy.

But after getting legal advice and looking at decisions in other jurisdictions, CUPE decided not to fight the policy.

The complainant said CUPE's lack of opposition breached its duty to fairly represent unvaccinated members.

In a written ruling on May 30 the labour board dismissed the complaint saying just because the person disagreed with CUPE's conclusion is not evidence of being treated unfairly.

"None of the allegations disclose facts that would give rise to a finding of arbitrary, discriminatory, or bad faith conduct," the labour board wrote, adding "it is plain and obvious that he has no reasonable chance of successfully demonstrating that CUPE has breached section 6-59 of the Act."

Trevor Bothorel/CBC
Trevor Bothorel/CBC

In its ruling, the board wrote that the complainant's two primary complaints were that CUPE did not respond adequately to his questions about representing unvaccinated members, and that CUPE "breached its duty by permitting the employer's vaccination and testing policy to proceed without negotiating or 'fighting.'"

CUPE gave email exchanges it had with the complainant to the board, and showed it had a number of special meetings for members to discuss the policy, which the complainant did not attend.

The complainant "believes that CUPE should not have treated unvaccinated employees differently than vaccinated employees," the labour board stated. "However, CUPE has presented extensive rationale for choosing not to object to the policy, largely focused on the merits of a grievance if it had filed one."

The board stated the union is entitled to weigh the likelihood of success at arbitration in deciding whether to file a grievance.

"The question is not whether the union has looked under every rock for an entry point into a grievance proceeding, but rather, whether the union has turned its mind to the merits and made a reasoned judgment," the board said in the ruling.

"There is certainly no glaring error in CUPE's decision not to file a policy grievance. On the contrary, it was an entirely reasonable course of action."

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