QUFA Protocol Regarding Representation: Carriage, Confidentiality, Disclosure and Duty of Fair Representation

Approved by QUFA Executive Committee July 27, 2011
Amended and approved by QUFA Grievance Committee September 18, 2013.
Amended and approved by QUFA Executive Committee October 1, 2013
Approved by QUFA Council October 16, 2013


If a Member wishes QUFA to proceed with a complaint or inquiry about their terms and conditions of work, the Member will give QUFA control of the process by allowing the union to decide strategy, mode, substance of representation and advocacy, and how far to take the matter. The member’s input to these decisions will be sought. This form of control is called carriage.

If Members take complaints to forums where QUFA does not have carriage, this Protocol does not apply. It is important for Members to remember that strategy and actions in those other forums may have a bearing on what QUFA is able to accomplish, and so ongoing communication is advised.

Confidentiality is important to QUFA’s work. QUFA will treat information provided by the Member as confidential. This does not mean that the information will remain only between the Member and the QUFA person contacted. It means that the information will be shared only with those who need to know.

Some of the people who may need to know as the process unfolds are:

  • QUFA staff dealing with member services: Grievance Officer, Administrative Officer,  Labour Relations Officer, and Executive Director;
  • Grievance Committee volunteers who sometimes accompany a Member to meetings;
  • Grievance Committee or JCAA (Joint Committee to Administer the Agreement ) Members may be asked for advice, but they are given only limited and necessary information;
  • Office of Faculty Relations and anybody they might have to contact at the university to achieve resolution of the issue.

Everyone involved in this process is aware of or made aware of the requirement of confidentiality. Nonetheless, it is important that Members realize that other people at the university may come to know about issues and attempts to resolve them.

Breach of confidentiality can have serious repercussions, including tainting the process or
jeopardizing resolution of the matter. If QUFA has carriage of a matter, then the Member must treat all information about the case as confidential unless given permission by QUFA to discuss specific issues with designated persons. QUFA staff will let the Member know if they find it necessary to involve others so that the Member may decide whether to continue with the query or complaint.

If QUFA is assisting a Member,she or he must provide all relevant information, whether favourable or unfavourable, so that QUFA can put forward the best case possible. It is a common misunderstanding
that unfavourable information should be hidden because revealing it will reflect negatively on the Member. However, at some point, unfavourable information will come out and it is best for the QUFA representative to know about it in advance so that she or he is not surprised; it is much easier to come prepared to deal with unfavourable information. In addition, concealing information can reduce the credibility of the Member and of QUFA, and could stand in the way of reaching a satisfactory solution.

QUFA has an obligation to all Members of the bargaining unit. It may have to investigate complaints in order to make an informed decision about whether to pursue them or not. If QUFA must speak to someone other than QUFA staffto gather information about a complaint, then it will seek the Member’s permission. If that permission is denied, then QUFA will have to assess whether and how it may take the complaint forward.

Duty of Fair Representation
The union owes a duty of fair representation (DFR) to Members and this is described in the Ontario Labour Relations Act:

    74. A trade union or council of trade unions, so long as it continues to be entitled to represent employees in a bargaining unit, shall not act in a manner that is arbitrary, discriminatory or in bad faith in the representation of any of the employees in the unit, whether or not members of the trade union or of any constituent union of the council of trade unions, as the case may be.

This is a procedural right rather than a right to a particular outcome. It may be that a Member is dissatisfied with the outcome of a grievance process, for example, but that does not necessarily mean that the union (QUFA) acted in a manner contrary tothe DFR provision. It is necessary to keep in mind that QUFA represents the whole Membership, so that sometimes the best interests of the bargaining unit as a whole might override the best interests of a particular Member.

If a Member believes QUFA has not represented him or her fairly as per the Duty of Fair Representation, the Member may file a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.