Abby Schools

Abbotsford school bus driver’s labour complaint parked

Michael Wester claimed a disciplinary action was ‘conspired and fraudulent’ to cover up another incident

An Abbotsford school bus driver’s complaint against the school district and his union over a “conspired and fraudulent” disciplinary action has been dismissed in a recent ruling by the B.C. Labour Board.

The years-long dispute stems from a pair of incidents on May 1, 2015, which resulted in Michael Wester, a bus driver of 15 years, getting a written warning from the school district.

In the warning, the district said Wester turned off his engine when reminded of the no-idling policy by a co-worker at Ross Road Elementary, before driving away in an “aggressive manner” with children still standing in the aisle. Wester denies that he did so.

RELATED: School bus fees eliminated for some Abbotsford students

RELATED: UFV and union headed to labour relations board

“The Employer also said that after the Complainant completed his route that day he approached another driver who was with a trainee and used profanity and made inappropriate and threatening remarks to him,” B.C. Labour Board vice-chair Andres Barker wrote in the Jan. 3, 2019 ruling.

“The Employer also conveyed through the Written Warning that the Complainant’s actions during the investigation meeting indicated he was unwilling to accept responsibility and was not honest and forthright during the interview process.”

In his complaint, Wester said the Ross Road Elementary infraction was manufactured to cover up a minor bus crash during the second incident. Before he was alleged to have approached his co-worker with profane and threatening remarks, Wester claimed he witnessed a trainee, coached by the co-worker, crash into another bus while backing into a stall.

“The Complainant describes [his co-worker] as then being in an agitated state and adamantly asserting there was no damage to either bus despite the damage being apparent to the Complainant,” the ruling reads.

A few days later, Wester found that the crash was not reported and brought it to the attention of a supervisor, who said he did not know about the crash.

In his ruling, Barker did not buy Wester’s arguments.

Wester claimed the union, a Teamsters local, was not aware of all relevant information and therefore acted arbitrarily, unable to make a reasoned decision.

Among the six items of relevant information that Wester claimed the union did not know was that his supervisor and two co-workers were “discrediting and conspiring against (him) in order to ‘cover up’ the bus collision he witnessed,” according to the ruling.

Barker wrote that Wester did not explain “how he or his Counsel were deprived of the opportunity to provide this information to the Union for its consideration during the almost 3.5 years between the incident and the Union’s final refusal to proceed to arbitration.”

“Although the Complainant believes he was the target of an organized conspiracy to [suppress] his witnessing of the bus collision, what is absent in his submissions to the Board is an explanation of how the allegations against the Complainant could have served to ‘cover up’ the bus collision,” Barker wrote.

“A union is not obliged to accept a complainant’s version of events and proceed to arbitration on that basis. The Complainant does not say his version of events was never communicated to the Union, and has otherwise provided no evidence upon which I could find the Union did not consider his version of events.”

It is not immediately clear whether Wester is still employed with the school district. An offer had been made by the school district to pay him to voluntarily resign, and eventually to strike the written warning from his record, but the settlement was not accepted prior to the B.C. Labour Board arbitration.

Find more of our coverage on the Abbotsford School District here.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Abby Schools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford veteran survives cancer scare, celebrates 95th birthday

Second World War veteran Andy Anderson receives socially distanced birthday party after health scare

Bank robber who was on the lam receives three years in jail

Lucas Bradwell was wanted for robberies in Abbotsford, Sidney and Vancouver

UPDATE: Abbotsford high school killer back in court for ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing

Gabriel Klein was previously convicted of stabbing Letisha Reimer to death

Rivers could rise rapidly as heavy rains hit Lower Mainland

Larger rivers to reach peak levels on Thursday or into Friday, according to high streamflow advisory

Missing Chilliwack man not seen for eight days

Bruce James Madill last known location was on Paula Crescent on Sept. 16

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Mounties cleared by watchdog in fatal shooting of man with schizophrenia in Maple Ridge

Kyaw Din was killed by the RCMP during a mental health incident in August 2019

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

Most Read