Legal News

Arbitrator Upholds School District's Decision to Post Only a Portion of Vacant Position

A school district’s decision to split up a vacant full-time position by boosting an existing part-time position to full-time and then posting a further part-time position did not breach the collective agreement, an arbitrator recently held.

The dispute arose when a teacher holding a full-time position transferred to another school, leaving her position open. Rather than post another full-time position, the employer increased an 0.72 FTE position (which was currently occupied) to 1.0 FTE and then posted a 0.5 FTE position.

The union took issue with the fact that the school district “re-jigged” the vacant position and posted what was left over. In the union’s view, the district was not entitled to manipulate the vacant position so that another position was filled instead. Rather, once the district made a decision to fill a portion of the former 1.0 FTE position, the district had to post it. It could not simply increase an existing position, as it had done.

The collective agreement provided that a vacancy existed when it was decided to “fill a position to which no other teacher was assigned.” The arbitrator held that the district’s decision to increase an existing 0.72 FTE position to a 1.0 FTE was not filling a position to which no other teacher was assigned and therefore did not require posting. The district had then properly posted the 0.5 FTE which it wished to fill.

Based on the collective agreement and past practice, the arbitrator concluded that the employer did not breach the collective agreement by breaking up the position and posting only a portion.

Harris & Company acted for the school district in the arbitration.

Board of School Trustees of School District 49 (Central Coast) –and- Central Coast Teachers’ Association, (December 1, 2006), unreported, (Pekeles)