Home Arbitration/Labour Relations OLRB decisions on teacher unions’ bargaining disputes upheld by Ontario court

OLRB decisions on teacher unions’ bargaining disputes upheld by Ontario court

by HR Law Canada

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has upheld two decisions by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) involving disputes between the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), and the Crown.

The disputes originated from the Crown’s collective bargaining negotiations with the teacher unions. In the first case, the OLRB dismissed the OSSTF’s claim that the Crown violated its duty to bargain in good faith under the Labour Relations Act, 1995. The OSSTF alleged that the Crown misled them during negotiations by stating that no other union would receive better compensation terms, particularly concerning the delay of salary grid movement.

In contrast, the OLRB found in favor of the ETFO, concluding that the Crown had breached its duty to bargain in good faith by misleading the union during negotiations. The ETFO was led to believe that all other unions had settled their grid movement grievances, which influenced its decision to do the same. However, the ETFO challenged the OLRB’s June 6, 2022, decision for not providing adequate remedies for its members, specifically arguing for monetary damages.

The Divisional Court, upon reviewing both applications, found the OLRB’s decisions to be reasonable. In the OSSTF case, the Court agreed with the OLRB’s conclusion that the Crown did not explicitly require the withdrawal of grid movement grievances as part of the settlement. The Court noted that while the Crown indicated that all unions would be treated equally in terms of compensation, this did not necessarily include the right to continue grid movement grievances.

Regarding the ETFO’s application, the Court supported the OLRB’s decision not to award monetary damages. The OLRB had determined that the ETFO had not sufficiently proven that the Crown’s misrepresentation was the sole factor in its decision to withdraw the grid movement grievances. The Court recognized the OLRB’s expertise in labour relations and its role in considering multiple factors in collective bargaining negotiations.

Consequently, both the OSSTF’s and ETFO’s applications for judicial review were dismissed by the Divisional Court, affirming the OLRB’s handling of these complex labour disputes.

For more information, see Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation v. Ontario, 2023 ONSC 6284 (CanLII)

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