Sometimes grievances can be difficult for the union and the employer (the parties) to resolve. They may need a neutral person to step in and help.
If either of the parties 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.
What is a settlement officer?
A settlement officer is an employee of the Board who works with the union and employer to help them resolve the grievance informally. Settlement officers have a high success rate in helping parties resolve their disputes by agreement. A settlement officer can't force one party or the other to do anything. They do provide neutral and objective guidance to help the parties resolve their differences themselves.
When can I apply for help from a settlement officer?
The employer or the union can only apply for help from a settlement officer once all of the steps in the grievance procedure have been completed, but before the grievance is referred to arbitration.
What happens when we work with a settlement officer?
The settlement officer will arrange a meeting with the union and employer. Meetings can take place in person or by videoconference. Both the employer and the union must bring someone to the meeting who has the authority to settle the grievance.
The settlement officer may talk to both sides, together and/or separately, (as they think best) to try to understand the issue and find common ground. The settlement officer will work with you to help you come to a compromise to resolve the grievance. The settlement officer may also offer alternatives or suggest ways to resolve the grievance. Any suggestions the settlement officer makes are non-binding, unless the parties agree that the settlement officer can make binding recommendations.
If you come to an agreement on how to resolve the grievance, you can prepare and sign a settlement document. A signed settlement agreement is legally binding and resolves the grievance.
If you don't come to an agreement on how to resolve the grievance, you can still decide to take the grievance to arbitration. Meetings with the settlement officer are on a without prejudice basis. This means if the grievance goes to arbitration, you can't refer to anything that came up during the meetings with the settlement officer. The settlement officer can't be called as a witness in arbitration.
How do I apply for help from a settlement officer?
To apply to the Director of CAAB to have an arbitrator appointed, file an application with the Board by using the Board’s online application process. The $100 filing fee can be paid through the online application process. If you can't use the online application process and need an alternate means of filing an application, contact us.
Once the application has been submitted through the online application process, you will be able to save a copy of the completed application. You must serve the other party as required by the Rules.
There is no fee for a settlement officer's time, but if the settlement officer has to travel, the parties are expected to pay for the settlement officer's expenses (e.g. ferry, meals, hotel, etc.).