Bill 18 Undermines Charter Rights Say Union Presidents
VANCOUVER, June 11, 2012 /CNW/ - Two labour groups representing
post-secondary education workers filed notice today in the B.C. Supreme
Court of a constitutional court challenge to the B.C. Liberals'
recently adopted Bill 18, the Advanced Education Statutes Amendment
Cindy Oliver, president of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators
(FPSE) and Darryl Walker, president of the B.C. Government and Service
Employees' Union (BCGEU) joined forces to ask the court to overturn
parts of Bill 18, which bans union activists from serving on college,
institute and university Boards of Governors.
"The provincial government has made a fundamental error in passing Bill
18," said Cindy Oliver, FPSE president. "We met with the Minister after
Bill 18 was first tabled and pointed out the constitutional problems
embedded in her legislation, but she has ignored our input and that
leaves us little choice but to launch a court challenge of the
legislation. That's what we have done this morning."
Court documents detail how Bill 18 has forced one of FPSE's
faculty-elected Board members at Vancouver Island University (VIU) to
be removed from that institution's Board of Governors because the
member also sits on the local faculty association executive. Under
provisions of Bill 18, local union executives are barred from serving
as an elected faculty or staff representative on Board of Governors.
"To date, the B.C. government has not been able to point to a single
problem that Bill 18 is supposed to fix," said BCGEU president Darryl
Walker. "We've joined this court challenge because our members'
democratic rights have been significantly impacted by Bill 18."
Walker noted that a BCGEU faculty member at Northwest Community College
(NWCC) was forced off the college's Board of Governors because he is an
elected member of the local union executive.
"For as long as there have been faculty-elected positions on the Boards
of our public post-secondary institutions, the issue of those faculty
also being active in their local union has never been a problem, at
least not until the BC Liberals decided to make it a problem," said
Oliver. "The provisions in Bill 18 that bar our members from standing
for the position of faculty-elected representatives on their
institution's Board of Governors are wrong-headed, uncalled for, but
most of all, unconstitutional."
"Forcing a duly elected Board member to be removed because of
involvement with their union is an affront to democracy," Walker said.
"The government's conflict of interest claim is unfounded, because
elected board members don't receive any special benefit from their
decisions. That's the case we are making to the court, in asking that
the government withdraw the offending provisions of Bill 18."
"The real frustration for our two unions is that we are forced to engage
in lengthy and expensive litigation because the B.C. government isn't
prepared to listen and draft legislation that respects existing
rights," concluded Oliver. "Our post-secondary institutions deserve
better leadership from the provincial government. However, in the
absence of that leadership we are turning to the courts and look
forward to advancing this case as quickly as possible."
SOURCE Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC
For further information:
Phillip Legg (FPSE) at 604-788-2877; Chris Bradshaw (BCGEU) 604-369-8411