The University of the Fraser Valley has been found to have interfered in the affairs of the union for its faculty and staff.

Harassment complaints at root of UFV dispute with union

University improperly interfered in union activity by launching investigation: LRB ruling

The union for University of the Fraser Valley staff and faculty may have been split by allegations of harassment, but UFV shouldn’t have launched its own investigation, the Labour Relations Board has ruled.

In November, two executives serving on the university’s Faculty and Staff Association (FSA) filed written complaints with UFV alleging harassment by three other FSA officials. All five individuals involved had either been fully or partially released from their UFV jobs in order to work on behalf of the union.

The complaints were “filed under the University’s Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Policy,” which prohibits bullying by employees or anyone on campus, according to a ruling this month by the Labour Relations Board (LRB).

Soon after the complaints were filed, the FSA demanded the university cease its investigation, arguing the complaints were based on confidential internal communications that the university didn’t have the right to see. It also demanded the university turn over any confidential union information it had received.

The FSA said the university’s actions amounted to “intimidating and threatening conduct.”

The case is believed to be the first in the province involving an employer investigating bullying by, and towards, union officers.

In a decision handed down earlier this month, LRB vice-chair Koml Kandola ruled that while she wasn’t convinced the university acted out of malice, it still “over-reached” by launching an investigation based on confidential union material.

Read the full ruling here.

“It may well have believed it was acting appropriately in pursuing a formal investigation in the manner it did,” she said in her decision.

While the university had argued that it was required by WorkSafeBC to investigate, Kandola said the university was unable to prove that was the case in its submissions. She also said there was no indication the dispute had spilled over from the union into the university workplace.

And she said UFV shouldn’t have obstructed union officials from accessing its confidential material that had been left by the two complainants in their university offices after they took sick leave.

As for the harassment allegations at the core of the decision, the two complainants have both filed WorkSafeBC complaints.

Kandola encouraged the union and university to use the LRB’s Special Investigating Officer to figure out how to proceed.

In a statement to its members, FSA president Sean Parkinson highlighted the ruling’s determination that the university interfered with the union’s activity’s. Parkinson wrote that the university should not have forced the union to go to the FSA.

“These disputes between the FSA and the University are very time consuming and expensive,” he wrote. “The FSA had no choice but to respond to what was obviously very clear interference on behalf of the University.”

In a statement to The News, UFV spokesperson Dave Pinton emphasized that the university did not intend to breach the code.

“UFV received unsolicited complaints under the university’s discrimination, bullying, and harassment prevention policy involving matters within the FSA. At the time of these complaints, the FSA did not provide evidence that a process to investigate existed within the union. UFV takes allegations of this nature very seriously and so believed there was an obligation to investigate.”

Pinton said the university will work with the FSA to find a way to address complaints within the union.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Hope man receives letter of apology after being escorted out of Chilliwack library

Mike Wilson fears the same treatment he received Nov. 2 by security guards will happen to others

Chilliwack school kids draw ‘don’t drink and drive’ messages on liquor store bags

Children from six elementary schools decorate bags as part of promotion created by local Mountie

New exercise class in Hope fills a need for those who can’t attend other seniors fitness classes

Get Up & Go is gentle exercise with a goal of increasing quality of life and social connections

PHOTOS: Christmas comes early for Hope shoppers

Local merchants kept shops open late for Dec. 8 Ho Ho Hope Christmas Fest

Strong winds to hit B.C.’s south coast

Western regions may see winds of up to 80 km/hr

Story of the Year: Deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The Canadian Press annual survey of newsrooms across the country saw 53 out of 129 editors cast their votes for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Road to the World Juniors leads through B.C.

Finland plays Denmark on Wednesday, United States takes on Czech Republic on Saturday

Trump signs order to create US Space Command

President Donald Trump signs an executive order to create a U.S. Space Command.

Groups preparing new pipeline legal challenge, argue government’s mind made up

A Vancouver-based environment charity is readying itself to go back to court if the federal government reapproves the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Notorious Toronto triple killer gets third consecutive life sentence

Dellen Millard gets third consecutive life sentence for father’s death.

‘Subdued’ housing market predicted in B.C. through 2021: report

The Central 1 Credit Union report predicts “rising but subdued sales” over the next three years, with little movement in median home prices.

A journey through 2018’s top pop culture moments

Was there any pop culture this year? Of course there was.

‘A stronger Alberta:’ Ottawa announces $1.6B for Canada’s oil and gas sector

Price of Alberta oil plummeted so low that Alberta’s Premier said Canada was practically giving it away

Wicked weather, including heavy snow, rainfall, hammers southern B.C.

Environment Canada has posted winter storm warnings for the Coquihalla Highway, Highway 3

Most Read