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Guiding Principles

Introduction

We believe that individual Employees are key labour relations stakeholders. Our Guiding Principles provide a framework for improving Canada's labour laws and their application in order to protect and advance the rights of all Employees.

Employees who want to become or remain Unionized are assisted by Unions that are funded by a mandatory dues regime. Some Employees may not want to become or remain Unionized, while other Employees may not be as interested as the Employee advocates. We are concerned with the latter two groups, who are without the same level of resources as those Employees who want to become or remain Unionized.

Employers and industry associations should advocate for both Employer and Employee rights as Unions do not always represent Employee's interests at all times.

LabourWatch does not engage in any government lobbying to effect legislative change. We encourage our Members and users to look to our Guiding Principles as a reference point to bring balance to Canada's labour laws.

Employee Rights Are Paramount

Labour legislation should direct Labour Boards throughout Canada to recognize that individual Employees are appropriate parties in all applications which affect their rights. Individual Employees should, at a minimum, be given a status of equal participant to Employers and Unions.

Protecting Employee Choice

Employees should be given the right to decide - free of threats, coercion, intimidation, inducements, fraud or misrepresentations - whether or not to be represented by a Union, whether or not to join a Union and whether or not to remain Unionized.

Employees should be free to select a Union of their choice, providing the proposed bargaining unit is appropriate. Voluntary recognition of a Union must be approved by an Employee's secret-ballot vote. Voter eligibility should be based on Labour Board criteria.

Democratic Right to Secret-Ballot Vote

Employees should always be allowed to exercise their choice whether or not to be represented by a Union through a secret-ballot vote. Certification and decertification votes, as well as strike votes and ratification votes, should be conducted by a neutral third party such as a Labour Board or Electoral Office.

Certification or decertification should be based on a simple majority of secret ballots cast. There should be no remedial certification or decertification. Labour Boards have sufficient remedial powers to address unfair labour practices committed by Employers, Unions or any person acting on their behalf.

After an initial bargaining unit has been found to be appropriate by a Labour Board, groups of Employees who were not subject to the original application for certification should not be compelled to become part of a bargaining unit without the appropriate secret ballot vote.

Employee Access to an Employee Advisor

Employees who do not wish to be Unionized, who are interested in decertifying a Union, or who have a Duty of Fair Representation Complaint against their Union, should have access to information and guidance from an Employee Advisor. Tax-funded assistance through an Employee Advisor is consistent with other employment legislation that provides financial and legal assistance to Employees seeking recourse against their Employer. Labour codes are the only form of employment legislation that leave certain Employees concerned about a Union without government or legislated assistance.

Employee Rights to Access Labour Relations Board Communications and Resources

Labour Boards should be required to communicate, in plain and simple language, relevant information to all Employees when their status is under consideration by the Board. Employees should have equal access to Board resources and information on decertification as they have when seeking the certification of a Union.

Employees should be given wide latitude in complying with procedures and forms when they are not represented in Board proceedings by a labour relations specialist (such as a Union representative or a lawyer). Forms should be simple and brief.

Employee Right to Access Union and Employer Information

The legislative concept of "undue influence," which operates on the presumption that Employees are automatically unduly influenced by Employer communications, represents a paternalistic and outdated view of Employees. Employees should have the right to know both Union and Employer opinions on the Unionization of their workplace.

Labour legislation should protect Employees' freedom of expression in terms of the right to hear information that enables them to make an informed decision about Unionization. Free speech rights for Unions that are greater than the rights of Employers limits or even negates the ability of Employees to make properly informed decisions.

Equal Standard for Union Certification and Decertification

The processes, procedures, administrative guidelines and adjudicative practices for certification of a Union should equally apply to the decertification of a Union. Legislation and regulation should not make decertifications more complicated and less available than Union certifications. These practices should be simplified to enable Employees to participate effectively in the certification and/or decertification process.

Decertification should be permissible at any time once a collective agreement is in place (just as certification is generally permissible at any time that a collective agreement is not in place). The use of limited time windows for decertification is unequal relative to the unlimited window available for certification applications. Limited-time windows demonstrate a legislative bias against Employees who want to decertify their Union. Decertification should also be available within reasonable, legislated time periods after certification if no Collective Agreement is reached.

Free Choice for Partial Decertification

Employees should have the option of "Partial Decertification". Over time, Unions can add new groups of Employees or different workplaces of the same Employer to a Collective Agreement. This principle should apply equally to decertification. As in the case of certifications, Employees should be able to decertify their distinct group or workplace location without having to involve Employees outside of their group or location in the application and vote process.

Protecting Employees from Intimidation and Misrepresentation

Employers and Unions should be restricted by the same rules of conduct and subject to the same penalties. Legislation should equally restrict Unions and Employers from the use of coercion, intimidation, threats, promises, inducements, fraud or misrepresentations of any kind, including the use of deceptive or misleading information, with respect to any Employee or member of a Union. Deceit or misrepresentation by Unions or Employers during organizing campaigns and decertifications should result in appropriate and similar remedial measures so that Employees can make decisions based on truthful information.

Employee Right to Reverse Support

Employees should be entitled to revoke any signature they may have put on any document relating to certification, decertification, raid or variance process up until appropriate steps in these processes. Employees should not be required to advise a Union of a card cancellation in an organizing campaign, or of their support for decertification. Employees should only be obliged to advise the Labour Board of their card cancellation or support for decertification confidentially and only advise the Union when and if they chose to do so.

Ensuring the Integrity of Bargaining Unit Adjudication

Labour Boards should determine which bargaining units, jobs or classes of jobs are eligible or ineligible for certification without any knowledge of who has or has not signed cards, let alone how classes of Employees may have voted. Bargaining unit adjudications should only be rendered once the unit and eligibility conditions are ruled upon. If votes must be held in advance of such decisions, ballots should be segregated appropriately and sealed pending a decision on the scope of the unit.

Advancing Employee Rights
Federal or Province
Caution

In most cases you will select the province where you work.

However, select "Federal and Territories", if any of the following apply:

  • You live in Northwest Territories, Nunavut or Yukon.
  • You work as a federal civil servant anywhere in Canada.
  • You work in one of the following industries:
    • airports or air transportation
    • broadcasting - radio, television or cable television
    • telecommunications
    • banking
    • fisheries (but only if your business relates to the protection and preservation of fisheries as a natural resource)
    • shipping and navigation (including loading and unloading vessels)
    • grain handling
    • uranium mining and processing
    • certain federal crown agencies
  • You work in one of the following industries AND (a) your activities connect one province to another OR (b) extend beyond the limit of one province:
    • air transport
    • canals
    • ferries, tunnels and bridges
    • highway transport of good or passengers
    • railway transport of goods or passengers