Saskatoon (City) (Re), 2015 CanLII 19980 (SK LRB)
The Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 615 (ATU) is the certified bargaining agent for the Transit Branch employees of the City of Saskatoon (City). Members of the ATU participate in the City’s General Superannuation Plan (GSP Plan). The particulars of the GSP Plan are set out in Bylaw No. 8226 of the City. The GSP Plan was found to be significantly underfunded. Changes to and funding for the GSP Plan became the central feature of collective bargaining between the City and its unions and associations, including the ATU. While significant plan amendments were agreed to and subsequently ratified by the other eight unions and employee associations participating in the GSP Plan, members of the ATU repeatedly rejected the City’s proposed pension and wage packages. After the City’s enhanced final offer was rejected, it served the ATU with notice of its intention to lock out the ATU’s members and a lockout commenced on September 20, 2014. On September 22, 2014, City Council met to consider and pass Bylaw No. 9224, which effected certain changes to Bylaw No. 8226. A copy of Bylaw No. 9224 was subsequently filed with the Superintendent of Pensions and registered pursuant to ThePension Benefits Act, 1992 (Saskatchewan).
In a previous decision, the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (Board) found that a statutory freeze was in effect between the period of June 3, 2014 and October 3, 2014, which was the period during which the City gave notice of its intention to lock out members of the ATU, commenced the lockout, and passed Bylaw No. 9224. The Board concluded that these actions were in violation of certain restrictions contained in The Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA).
In light of the finding that Bylaw No. 9224 was enacted by the City during a statutory freeze, the ATU argued that the Board must restore members to the position they would have been in had the violation not occurred and that the City should be directed to reverse the changes made to members’ pension benefits by means of Bylaw No. 9224.
The Board held that it lacked the statutory jurisdiction to strike down or quash legislation enacted by elected officials and, in the face of a conflict between a municipal bylaw and the SEA, the Board’s remedial jurisdiction was limited to reading down the impugned bylaw so as to avoid the conflict. The Board held that Bylaw No. 9224 was not unlawful in its entirety and only the provisions that made changes to the pension benefits and privileges of members of the ATU were in violation of the SEA. The Board held that the appropriate remedy was to read down Bylaw No. 9224 to the extent necessary to avoid the conflict. As a result, the Board ordered Bylaw No. 9224 to be read such that it had no force and effect for members of the ATU for the period of June 3, 2014 to October 3, 2014 and that for this period, the members of the ATU would be entitled to the benefits and privileges as they existed prior to the enactment of Bylaw 9224.