November 22nd, 2017

U of L, Faculty Association headed to arbitration


By Schnarr, J.W. on October 8, 2017.

J.W. Schnarr

Lethbridge Herald

jwschnarr@lethbridgeherald.com

The University of Lethbridge has had their attempts at avoiding arbitration with the Faculty Association over the suspension of a professor halted following a judge’s decision on the matter.

At issue is the suspension of Professor Tony Hall, a tenured member of the U of L’s Faculty of Arts and Science. Before he was suspended, he taught Globalization Studies at the university and has a history of activism.

Hall provided a brief statement via email and referred future request for comment to his lawyer.

“I congratulate the executive of (ULFA) for successfully defending the integrity of our collective agreement against the litigious predations of the U of L Board of Governors,” he wrote.

The U of L released the following statement:

“The University of Lethbridge is in receipt of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta’s decision pertaining to a procedural dispute regarding the suspension of one of its faculty members. The U of L has no further comment on the matter at this time.”

In October 2016, the university suspended Hall without pay over concerns he had contravened Section 3 of the Alberta Human Rights Act, including providing a platform for hate speech regarding some of his online activities. He later had his pay restored but is still on suspension.

The ULFA has taken the position that the suspension is in violation of the Collective Agreement and moved forward to appoint an arbitrator for the issue. The U of L took the position that the Collective Agreement does not apply in this instance and did not accept the appointment.

In December, ULFA filed an application with the Court of Queen’s Bench and a hearing was slated for Aug. 8.

ULFA then sought an earlier appointment of an arbitrator which the U of L opposed in part due to the upcoming August court date.

The Minister of Advanced Education declined to get involved in the issue while the matter was before the courts.

On May 4, Bill 7, “An Act to Enhance Post-Secondary Academic Bargaining” came into effect. For the first time, the collective bargaining arrangements between the U of L and ULFA were governed by the Labour Relations Code instead of the Post-Secondary Learning Act.

The Act allows for either party to request for the appointment of an arbitrator should the two parties involved be unable to jointly agree on one.

On May 5, ULFA made the request to the Director of Mediation Services. The U of L opposed the resulting appointment, and the decision by the Director that it was not his place to decide on whether an issue required an arbitrator – though an arbitrator could make that decision.

The U of L then filed for a judicial review of the Director’s decision.

Arbitration has been scheduled for November.

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