B.C. teacher’s request to opt out of union on religious grounds rejected

B.C. teacher’s request to opt out of union on religious grounds rejected

LRB ruling finds his fear of a ‘grand Marxist agenda’ an ideological opposition not a religious one

A Chilliwack teacher won’t get out of paying union dues because of his belief in a Marxist conspiracy taking over Western civilization.

That’s the ruling from the Labour Relations Board (LRB) for the case of Robert Bogunovic who, in his own words, says he adheres to the conspiracy theory of cultural Marxism’s “long march through the institutions.”

“Trade unionism is a major part of the grand Marxist agenda,” he said in his application to the LRB.

Bogunovic brought the case to the LRB asking for an exemption from union membership under section 17 of the Labour Relations Code, which states that the LRB can exempt an employee from joining a union due to his or her religious conviction or belief. If granted, those dues would be directed to a recognized charity.

The Chilliwack secondary social studies teacher argued that unions support Marxist organizations and causes while using union dues from members, and in so doing “render all of us partakers in a repressive agenda that is irreconcilable to my religious and political views.”

The trigger for Bogunovic’s action was when the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) and the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association (CGA) filed a human rights complaint against trustee Barry Neufeld for his ongoing vitriol towards transgender youth and his campaign against the LGBTQ community.

• READ MORE: BCTF files human rights complaint against Chilliwack school trustee

Specifically, Neufeld has been outspoken – even calling himself a prophet – for his opposition to the provincial education tool, SOGI 123, designed to prevent bullying and increase inclusion for LGBTQ students.

Neufeld wrote in a Facebook post: “If you don’t get off your duffs and push back against this insidious new teching [sic], the day is coming (maybe it is already here) when the government will apprehend your children and put them in homes where they will be encouraged to explore homosexuality and gender fluidity.”

While Bogunovic admitted the timing of his Section 17 application along with the Neufeld/SOGI 123 controversy was “not inconsequential,” he argued the it was largely irrelevant to his application for religious exemption.

Still, he argued the Neufeld case illustrated the threat of “cultural Marxism” marching through institutions.

“The controversy pitted a lone Christian voicing his support for traditional family values against the media, the government, public-sector trade unions, a mob fueled by outrage spewing hate and bile, and all of them were calling Neufeld the bully.”

Part of the LRB’s rejection of Bogunovic’s claim stems from the fact that Bogunovic said he came to believe in God in his 20s while already a member of a union. And having been in a union since 1998, this is his first application for an exemption.

Bogunovic was actually quite active in the union, front and centre during labour strife in 2014.

“We want to put pressure on our local MLAs; they have the ability to move this forward,” he was quoted as saying four years ago while protesting in front of Chilliwack MLA John Martin’s office.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack teachers ramp up strike presence

But the clincher was Bogunovic’s political, rather than religious, opposition to unions, expressed overtly by his belief in the conspiracy theory of “the rising menace of Marxism,” a belief hardened by following YouTube bloggers during the last U.S. election.

“The trade union movement, as well as the Labour Relations Board, must be wary of converts suddenly overcome with religious zeal in their opposition to unions, in place of their previously stated political opposition to unions,” according to the LRB decision.

Bogunovic tried to get around this by arguing while “Marxism did not exist as an ideology at the time the Bible was written,” that “doesn’t mean the Bible does not strongly argue against it.”

The LRB found his ideological opposition to unions generally does not provide a basis for granting the religious exemption.

“[T]he Applicant’s submissions establish his application arises from the negative view of unions he has developed generally and from his recent ideological disagreement with the Union over what he calls the Neufeld/SOGI 123 controversy.”


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Pedestrians have rights to use highways

A highway is not the exclusive domain of drivers.

Sahtlam Volunteer Firefighters Association has stepped up, in spite of COVID, for a number of charities. (Submitted)
Sahtlam firefighters step up

Sahtlam Volunteer Firefighters Association has a long history of supporting charities

A mobile home fire prompted a quick response from firefighters Saturday around 3:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Mobile home up in flames at Duncan RV Park

One patient burned, EHS on scene

Phaecelia used as a cover crop attracts bees and provides them with high quality nectar. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Cover crops keep soil healthy and productive

We don’t harvest a cover crop and instead dig the tops under when they’re immature and soft

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Home is where you know your neighbours

My mom has lived at that address for 43 years.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read