Castlegar city council will be debating how the city’s Stage IV Labour Management committee should operate in the future at its Dec. 21 meeting.
The topic was placed on the agenda through a Notice of Motion brought forward by councilor Florio Vassilakakis.
The composition of the committee has been questioned by several councilors since Mayor Bruno Tassone appointed himself, councilor Cherryl MacLeod and councilor Maria McFaddin to the committee at this council’s first meeting after the 2018 municipal election.
At the time, Vassilakakis was joined by councilor Dan Rye and councilor Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff in voicing concerns over Tassone’s and MacLeod’s union affiliations.
MacLeod is a member of CUPE, the same union as city staff, although she is part of a different local.
As a former City of Castlegar employee, Tassone spent about 30 years as a member of the same CUPE local as current city staff.
“Since there has continued to be a reappointment to that committee, I thought it was time to address the concerns that we have had and that perhaps the mayor would reconsider his appointments based on those concerns,” Vassilakakis told the Castlegar News.
Labour management committee appointments are made annually.
Vassilakakis says his concerns primarily revolve around a perceived conflict of interest, the potential for an actual conflict of interest and impartiality issues.
“We are always told [in our training] if there is a perceived conflict, to walk away, whether there is an actual conflict or not,” he said.
Vassilakakis also wants to change the power structure of the committee. Currently, the committee makes grievance decisions themselves. Vassilakakis wants to see the decisions come before the whole council for approval.
Down the road, he would like to see politicians removed from the equation altogether.
“Why are we as politicians dealing with labour management issues?” said Vassilakakis.
Castlegar News reached out to Mayor Tassone with a series of questions related to the motion.
Tassone declined to answer, stating: “I am not willing to make a comment at this time as council has had no discussion on the notice of motion.”
The Notice of Motion reads:
Whereas the City of Castlegar has an established Stage IV Labour Management committee process to adjudicate escalated Grievances by unionized employees;
And whereas the Mayor of the City of Castlegar appoints council members to the committee each and every year;
And whereas Mayor and councillors are elected to protect the interests of the municipality, its taxpayers and its citizens;
And whereas municipalities in the Province of British Columbia have a best practice of removing politics from the management of union relations and disciplinary action;
And whereas Councillors have raised concerns about the impartiality and potential and perceived conflicts of the committee numerous times in the past;
And whereas the aforementioned concerns could impede on and hinder the position of the City;
Therefore be it resolved that the Council of the City of Castlegar respectfully call on the Mayor to reconsider and reappoint new members to the Stage IV Labour Management Committee;
And be it further resolved that the Stage IV Labour Committee be required to bring all its findings on individual cases to the entirety of council for a decision and approval by resolution thereon;