B.C. anti-vaccine nurses have union complaint dismissed by labour board

File photo. A nurse loads a syringe with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at an inoculation station. Rogelio V. Solis / The Associated Press

A group of B.C. nurses, who claimed their union represented them in “bad faith” after they were fired for flouting provincial health orders requiring COVID-19 vaccinations, failed to get the labour relations board to come around to their way of thinking.

Jacqui Bohmer, Cynthia Dykstra, Andrea Henders, Vera Meuleman, Anita Roulston and Corinne Mori worked for Interior Health and Celina Gold worked for Vancouver Island Health until COVID-19 vaccine requirements went into effect  and they made decisions to not comply.

At first that resulted in them being put on leave.  Then came health authority dismissal letters which they, in turn, filed grievances about with the B.C. Nurses Union.

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The union, according to a BC Labour Relations Board decision posted last Friday, went about the business of grieving their dismissals and informing of the steps they’d made, but the nurses felt its actions fell short.

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“They say that the process has ‘stalled’ and that the union has given ‘vague’ details and provided ‘no updates’ regarding the grievances and the grievance process,” Gurleen S. Sahota, labour board vice chair, wrote.

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In the end, they claimed the union “represented them in an arbitrary, discriminatory, and bad faith manner.”

The labour board acknowledged their frustration but said that the union didn’t fail in its communication efforts or fail to move forward with the grievances. More importantly, however, the union process has yet to be completed and Sahota said that needed to play out first.

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“As such, I find the applications are premature and dismiss them on that basis,” Sahota said.

The nurses will have the option to file new applications once the union has made a final decision in relation to the grievances and  internal union appeal processes have been exhausted.

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After this complaint was made, one of the nurses raised some additional concerns about Sahota.

Mori sent a letter in March stating that upon discovery that Sahota was assigned to their complaints, they also learned he was appointed to his position one year ago by Minister David Eby, who was minister
of housing at this time.

“This raises concerns, as I would expect the minister of labour to be the appropriate party to appoint Vice Chairs in the BC Labor Board,” Mori said.

“As Premier Eby has adamantly refused to allow health-care workers back to work, I am prepared to highlight the possible conflict of interest, and bias that may be contributing to the delay of our hearing, and/or fair process.”

Sahota dismissed the argument, given in part to the fact that the position was awarded on merit.

“Other than alleging that it was not appropriate that the premier appointed me when he was the attorney general, alleging the premier has ‘adamantly refused to allow health-care workers back to work’, and alleging that ‘political influences’ are involved, the applicants have not raised any circumstance or ground that suggests that I should be disqualified on the basis of a conflict of interest or reasonable apprehension of bias,” Sahota said.

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