Home Arbitration/Labour Relations City of Regina worker’s DFR complaint against his union following safety-related suspension, misdirected email dismissed

City of Regina worker’s DFR complaint against his union following safety-related suspension, misdirected email dismissed

by HR Law Canada

The Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board has dismissed two complaints filed by an employee of the City of Regina against his union, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 21.

Unsafe work

In the first case, DS alleged that the union failed to represent him fairly regarding a three-day suspension he received for entering a large excavation pit in an unsafe manner. The Board heard evidence that DS, as the crew lead, decided not to use a safety cage while entering the pit, contrary to the employer’s safety protocols.

“Once a pit reaches a certain depth, the risk of a cave-in increases. Accordingly, the Employer requires that the walls of the pit be sloped to a certain angle to mitigate the risk of a cave-in, or that a “cage” be used,” the board said.

“A cage is an enclosure that is suspended from a backhoe and lowered into a pit, enabling employees to access the floor of the pit from the safety of the enclosure.”

Despite his claim that the pit could be safely entered via a ramp and his previous use of a cage being impractical, the union decided not to pursue a grievance. The union’s president conducted a thorough investigation, considering DS’ previous discipline for safety violations and consulting with the Occupational Health and Safety branch. The union’s decision was eventually upheld by its Executive and Appeal Committees.

Privacy breach

In the second case, DS accused the union of breaching his privacy by inadvertently sending an email containing his personal information to another employee.

The email explained the rationale for recommending the union not proceed with the grievance and was accidentally sent to another union member rather than DS.

The union promptly addressed the error by instructing the unintended recipient to delete the email and informing DS of the breach.

“The misdirected email did not contain any financial information or contact information for (DS), other than his email address,” the Board said.

DS said he found it ironic that a day or two after he was notified of the misdirected email, someone gained access to his investment account.

“He also says that he wouldn’t wish identity theft on anyone; it has been troubling for him,” the Board said.

But it found no evidence of intentional misconduct or a breach of duty on the union’s part in this matter.

The Board ruled that the union did not act in an arbitrary, discriminatory, or bad faith manner in either dispute. In the privacy case, the union’s actions were deemed appropriate, and in the grievance dispute, the union conducted a proper investigation, made a reasoned judgment about the grievance’s success, and provided clear reasons for its decision.

Both of DS’ applications were dismissed, with the Board emphasizing that a union is not held to a standard of perfection and is not obligated to pursue a grievance at a member’s request.

For more information, see Srochenski v Canadian Union of Public Employees, 2023 CanLII 101219 (SK LRB)

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