“This is disappointing news, but we will continue to support other court actions to ensure that our rights are protected,” said Cindy Oliver, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators. Oliver was reacting to the announcement by the Supreme Court of Canada that it would not hear an appeal of a lower court decision that upheld arbitrator David McPhillips’ ruling in a case involving the UBC Senate’s bypassing of provisions in a signed collective agreement. “While the Supreme Court of Canada has not granted us leave to appeal the McPhillips decision, that does not close the door on being granted that right at some point in the future,” Oliver added. “If we can advance a number of court actions in other provinces where post-secondary governance bodies have taken similar action as in the UBC case, those actions could provide enough impetus for the Supreme Court to finally hear an appeal of the McPhillips case. That process is certainly not our preferred course of action, but we are not going to concede the point that university Senates or other post-secondary governing bodies can unilaterally override provisions in signed collective agreements. The Supreme Court has already established some important jurisprudence on this issue when it ruled that the BC Liberal government’s 2002 contract ripping legislation was illegal. We wanted to expand on that ruling, but with today’s announcement, it seems our struggle will take more time to resolve. We will be discussing some of our options with our partners at the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) who have played such an important role in coordinating a national response to this very important issue,” Oliver concluded.
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 19 public and 5 private sector institutions.