Recent History – 1999
June 11, 1999
By Rachel Clarke, Alaska Highway News
FORT ST. JOHN – Changes to a clause which controls the lifestyle of employees outside of the their place of work are at the heart of the dispute which has closed a local Catholic school. The biggest issue on the table, according to Lloyd Glibbery, head of the local BCGEU which represents 17 teaching and non-teaching staff at the Immaculata Catholic Independent School, is the need for a third party mediator, other than the bishop, in issues of employees being discharged.
Immaculata is the only Catholic school in the province whose teachers are organized by a government union and not a Catholic Teacher’s Association union. If an employee teaches or acts contrary to catholic teaching in the classroom, or lives a lifestyle outside of school contrary to catholic teachings, they can be disciplined or fired by the school.
Union negotiators want any such charges against teachers to be adjudicated by a third party, and that job-loss not be determined by the word of the Diocese or Bishop alone.
Adding this to the catholicity clause upset board members and the bishop, said Glibbery. The agreement outlined by the diocese of Prince George says, “a breach of this paragraph (the catholicity clause) shall constitute just cause for dismissal.”
The catholicity clause, which outlines proper standards for conduct, is not at risk, Glibbery insists. “The problem is not the catholicity clause. We recognize that this is a Christian, Catholic organization,” said Glibbery. “We can live with the clause as long as a worker has the right to have a discharge dispute adjudicated by a third party. Workers are entitled to their day in court,. said Glibbery. “You don’t have the employer being judge and prosecutor.”
Wiesner said earlier that changes to the catholicity clause undermined the power of the church and his office.
Glibbery, however, says that the bishop should not have the last word in matters with labour relations, but he could see how the church may feel threatened by the need for an outside third party mediator.
Glibbery said it was unfortunate it had to come to a fight and that they have tried to negotiate all along without much cooperation from the church.
“We would still be willing to negotiate,” he said. “We are prepared to go back to the bargaining table tomorrow.”