Where the employer and the union (the parties) are unable to resolve a dispute through the collective agreement grievance procedure, either one can decide to refer the grievance to arbitration and ask a neutral arbitrator to resolve the dispute for them. Most often, the arbitrator is agreed to by the parties and is appointed under the arbitration provision in the collective agreement.
However, the parties can also apply to the Director of the Collective Agreement Arbitration Bureau (CAAB) to have an arbitrator appointed in certain circumstances. CAAB is an administrative body established under the Labour Relations Code (the Code) and the Director is a Board employee.
The Director of CAAB appoints arbitrators and settlement officers to resolve grievances filed under collective agreements. Arbitrators are appointed by the Director from a list of registered arbitrators. CAAB maintains this list. CAAB works with the community in developing new arbitrators, such as through a mentorship program.
What is the grievance procedure?
Under a collective agreement, disputes are resolved through the grievance process. When a grievance is filed, the union and employer work together to resolve it. Most grievances are resolved by the union and employer through the grievance process.
If you want to know what the process looks like, have a look at the grievance procedure in your collective agreement or ask the union. While there are similar processes in most collective agreements, there can be significant differences.
If a dispute is not resolved through the grievance process, the parties can decide to refer the issue to arbitration. This can be done through the process in the collective agreement or through CAAB.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is formal process to resolve a grievance.
A neutral arbitrator is appointed by the union and the employer to hear the grievance.
The union or the employer can also apply to CAAB to have an arbitrator appointed.
The grievance, evidence, witnesses, and argument are presented to the arbitrator. The arbitrator may hear the grievance in person or, in appropriate circumstances, may decide the grievance based on written submissions.
The arbitrator will then decide to allow or dismiss the grievance. That decision is binding.
The arbitrator may also try to work with the union and employer to settle the grievance.
The union or the employer can also ask the Director of CAAB to appoint a settlement officer to try to resolve the grievance.
Learn more about the union's authority in the arbitration process and its ability to settle grievances.
The Board doesn't hold arbitrations. However, it may deal with an application for review of the arbitrator's decision.
Looking for an arbitration decision?
Arbitration decisions are not posted on the Labour Relations Board's website.
An arbitrator must file a copy of an arbitration decision with the Director of CAAB within 10 calendar days of the decision being issued.
When the Director receives a decision, it is assigned a reference number and a copy is sent to the following publishers:
- LexisNexis Canada (Quicklaw)
- Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)
- Thomson Reuters
- Lancaster House
- Courthouse Libraries of BC
If you can't find an arbitration decision through one of the publishers above, email the Director of CAAB at CAAB@lrb.bc.ca and the Director may be able to obtain a copy of the decision. When you email the Director, include as much information about the decision as possible, such as the name of the union and the employer, the date of the decision, and the arbitrator's name.
Every collective agreement must have a process to resolve issues under the collective agreement. One process is grievance and arbitration.
When a dispute arises between the employer and the union (the parties) during the term of a collective agreement, the parties can try to resolve that dispute between themselves using the grievance process in the collective agreement.
If the union and the employer wants help resolving a grievance, they can ask the Director of the Collective Agreement Arbitration Bureau (CAAB) to appoint a settlement officer. While either party can make the application, working with a settlement officer is voluntary.
Some grievances are settled by the employer and the union (the parties to the collective agreement). Some can be harder to settle and the union and employer may decide that a neutral third-party can help them come to an agreement.