Labour board rules in favour of Squamish's Quest University Faculty Union

Union wanted visiting tutors included in bargaining unit; school was opposed

The Labour Relations Board has sided with the Quest University Faculty Union in a dispute between employees and the school about whether visiting tutors could be part of a bargaining unit.

At the heart of the issue, according to a labour board decision, is whether the Quest University Faculty Union would be allowed to form a bargaining unit comprised of all instructional and non-instructional faculty, including faculty tutors, visiting tutors, teaching fellows, and librarians.

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(At Quest, professors are known as tutors.)

The decision states the school objected to this unit on the grounds that including visiting tutors in the bargaining unit would be inappropriate because of the "profound differences" between faculty tutors and visiting tutors.

In a written decision published on Oct. 31, Andres Barker, vice-president of the board, dismissed the school's argument against the union.

According to the document, the university said that faculty tutors are full-time staff with a doctoral level of education. They are fully engaged in the pursuit of their academic careers at the school and are active participants in its governance, in the school's view, the decision reads.

The school's position was that the same cannot be said of visiting tutors, according to the decision.

"The employer also says the working conditions of [faculty tutors] are fundamentally different from the working conditions of [visiting tutors]," the decision reads. "It says the differences are a direct product of [faculty tutors] and [visiting tutors'] respective roles and relationship with the employer, and the profound contrast highlights the absence of a community of interest."

However, the employees had a different view, according to Barker.

"In response, the union states the primary duty of all three faculty groups is teaching," reads the decision.

"It says [faculty tutors], [visiting tutors], and fellows all have similar skills, interests, and duties, and the differences in their working conditions can be readily accommodated in a single collective agreement."

Concerning the employer's position, Barker wrote that he accepted that both types of tutors were different, but found the school's argument insufficient.

"I find the employer has not established why a rational and defensible line cannot be drawn around a unit that includes both [faculty tutors] and [visiting tutors.]," reads his decision.

"Accordingly, I find that the unit applied for is an appropriate unit for collective bargaining under the code."  

Barker ordered the school's objections to the union's bargaining unit application be dismissed.

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