Home Arbitration/Labour Relations Former City of Calgary worker’s DFR complaint against CUPE dismissed as labour board notes grievance process can take ‘significant time’

Former City of Calgary worker’s DFR complaint against CUPE dismissed as labour board notes grievance process can take ‘significant time’

by HR Law Canada

The Alberta Labour Relations Board dismissed a duty of fair representation complaint by a former City of Calgary employee against the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 38.

The complainant, who began working as a Programmer Analyst in May 2022, alleged that the union failed to represent her fairly concerning her job duties, compensation, and her claims of constructive dismissal by the City.

The crux of the complaint centered on CUPE’s alleged failure to act on the complainant’s concerns regarding her increased workload without corresponding pay and her eventual resignation, which she claimed was forced due to workplace pressure and lack of support.

Despite the complainant’s claims, the board found no evidence of bad faith, discrimination, or negligence by the union. It noted that the union had taken steps to address the complainant’s concerns, including advising her to initiate a Job Evaluation Questionnaire process and later filing grievances on her behalf regarding pay grade and termination.

The board’s review process involved assessing whether the union’s actions were arbitrary, discriminatory, or showed bad faith or serious negligence. It concluded that the union had engaged appropriately with the complainant and had taken steps to represent her interests, including filing and advancing grievances to arbitration.

The complainant’s resignation, a key aspect of her complaint, was also scrutinized. She alleged that her resignation was not voluntary but rather the result of workplace pressure and the union’s failure to support her. However, the board found that she had clearly communicated her intention to resign and that the union’s subsequent actions, including filing a grievance for wrongful dismissal, did not constitute unfair representation.

Regarding the grievance process, the board noted that it is not uncommon for grievances to take significant time to be heard at arbitration. It emphasized that a slow process does not necessarily indicate a breach of fair representation.

“The Board understands the Complainant’s concerns, and the challenges and stress inherent in a grievance involving a loss of employment,” it said. “The Paygrade Grievance and the Termination Grievance remain ongoing.  Unfortunately, the grievance and arbitration process can take significant time to complete.”

For more information, see Complainant v Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 38, 2023 CanLII 118976 (AB LRB)

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