TRU law complaint a “subtle drama in the saga”

Karla Karcioglu, Roving Editor Ω

On Sept. 12, TRU law faculty filed a complaint to the Labour Relations Board against the TRU Faculty Association (TRUFA) and its employer, TRU.

The complaint might be seen as "a subtle drama" to some, but the Labour Relations Board will be the decider in the case. Brian Turner/Flickr Commons

The complaint might be seen as “a subtle drama” to some, but the Labour Relations Board will be the decider in the case. Brian Turner/Flickr Commons

The complaint says that there’s been a “breach of the duty of fair representation” and that over the previous two years, the TRU Faculty Association (TRUFA) acted “arbitrarily, discriminatorily and in bad faith on its dealing with [law faculty].”

More specifically, the complaint says TRUFA failed to “properly inform itself as to the needs [and] particular interests of TRU’s Law Faculty” and has rejected “without reason, all proposals made by [the law faculty] for modifications of the collective agreement which would accommodate the specific needs of a new law faculty.”

The agreement was in effect from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2012 and was extended while the university and TRUFA continue negotiations for a new agreement.

The complaint states that the actions by TRUFA “genuinely threaten the continued viability of the law program at Thompson Rivers University.”

TRU Society of Law Students’ external representative Kelly Maw called the complaint a “subtle drama in the saga,” referring to a history of events that also includes the resignation of founding dean of law Chris Axworthy.

Maw said the complaint hasn’t really affected law students and that it wasn’t something students were directly told about.

“It seems pretty contained,” Maw said.

Third-year TRU law student Chris Albinati said it will be students who receive the collateral damage from ongoing issues.

Albinati is concerned about the value a law degree from TRU, based off the school’s reputation, compared to other established law schools across Canada.

“When you are competing in this sort of environment, a new brand is a big question mark,” Albinati said. “The more bad press that’s coming out is making it worse for [students].”

“If [the program] gets limited in terms of salary, and can’t attract the top faculty, then our law program becomes third-rate,” he said.

VP advancement Christopher Seguin said the complaint is not a negative issue but rather “an issue necessary to the creation of the [law] school.”

“All new ventures come with change, and this new venture is a very complicated one,” Seguin said. “However, we are positive that we have found extremely qualified faculty who are providing a world-class legal education to our students throughout this issue.”

TRUFA and the TRU law faculty were contacted by The Omega several times but could not be reached for comment.