Federal and Territories  -  Construction
How to Decertify a Union

New

PLEASE NOTE: New Federal legislation that was passed into law on December 16, 2014 came into force June 16, 2015. New procedures were issued on June 17, 2015. Our review of the new procedures has revealed that there are a number of errors in the instructions and the forms. We will be contacting the CIRB to address these errors.

We will not be able to properly update our procedures and forms until further notice.

Introduction

Decertification basically means getting rid of a Union. It happens when a majority of employees no longer support the union or don't want the union to represent them. If you can prove this you can decertify the union. But, there are a few rules you need to follow.

Using our step-by-step instructions, you should be able to apply to the Canada Industrial Relations Board to decertify your union. If you need help, go to our Contacts pages and get in touch with someone listed there. By the way, others may call decertification "revocation of bargaining rights" or "termination of bargaining rights."

Time Your Decertification

You can only apply to decertify the union during an open time period. Also, unless the CIRB agrees, you cannot apply during a legal strike or lockout.

The open time periods are:

Where a collective agreement is in force

  • If the Collective Agreement is for 3 years duration, or less: during the last 3 months of the collective agreement.
  • If the collective agreement is for greater than 3 years: during the last 3 months of the third year, during the last 3 months of each year thereafter, or during the last 3 months of the collective agreement.
  • If the employer voluntarily recognized the union: at any time during the first year of the collective agreement. After the first year of the collective agreement, the timing rules set out in (a) and (b) above apply.
  • If a collective agreement is for 3 years or less and if the collective agreement has expired and if a new collective agreement has not been negotiated, a decertification application may be filed.

Where a collective agreement is not in force

  • If it has been 1 year since the union was certified by the CIRB, and if the Board is satisfied that the Union has not made reasonable efforts to reach a collective agreement.

Get the Forms

You must make your application in writing and provide certain information. Because the Board does not provide a Form for employees to use, LabourWatch provides one for you to use.

Because you need to prove most of your coworkers don't support the Union, you need to collect their names and signatures. You must use Individual Decertification Forms.

You can get copies of these forms along with a copy of these instructions in the Downloads section. Alternatively, click here to view the form for the Federal jurisdiction and the Territories.

Avoid Mistakes

To succeed, you may have to show that your employer wasn't involved in decertifying the union. So, you should make sure that:

  • It was not your employer’s idea to start the application and that management was not involved with the application.
  • No one from management offered anyone any reward or benefit for starting or continuing the application.
  • No one from management threatened anyone, if they would not support the application.
  • You have not been led to believe your application will be funded in whole or in part by your company.

Finally, if you can, try to get more signatures on Individual Decertification Forms than the minimum of 50% + 1. Many things could happen to affect whether or not you have the right numbers. For example, there is always a possibility that someone resigns or is fired the day before your application goes in that you may not even know about. Finally, the more support you have on paper when applying the better chance you have of winning a vote, if you get to have one.

Gather Support

You will need to collect the names and signatures from the unionized employees in the bargaining unit who support decertifying the union. employees should be signing off on the fact that they no longer want the Union to represent them and that they authorize you to bring an application for decertification on their behalf. You will have to collect signatures from employees totalling at least 50% + 1 of the bargaining unit. By the way, you may have to prove the signatures were given "freely" and "voluntarily."

When planning to gather signatures, you may want to consider a standard union approach: gather first from fellow employees who you know or who you think want to decertify the Union, then ask employees who you think could go either way or you just don’t know. You may want to leave the Shop Stewards, Bargaining Committee members and other known Union supporters until last or not approach them at all if you can at least get a vote without talking to them. Union supporters and the Union will have time to campaign to keep the Union before any vote.

Make sure signatures are not being gathered during working hours; however, they can be collected when you and the person signing are on break or before or after work. Also, make sure everyone who is signing the document is given a chance to read it first.

The signatures you gather in support of your decertification application are only good for six months so if you do not get your application filed before then you may have to go back and get the Individual Decertification Forms re-signed.

Prepare the Forms

To properly complete your application form to become union-free, you will need to collect or prepare the following information:

  • The name, address, and phone number of the applicant, your contact person, the union, and your employer.
  • The date the union was certified and the certificate number, if known (check with the CIRB).
  • Approximate number of employees in your bargaining unit.
  • A description of your bargaining unit (see your collective agreement).
  • The start date and expiry date of your collective agreement.
  • Information about any orders or decisions made by the CIRB relating to the decertification application.

Deliver the Forms

You can send your decertification documents (your application and Individual Decertification Forms) by fax, hand-delivery, courier or registered mail. But, the best way is by fax in order to establish the date and time of your application. If you apply by fax, you MUST also send originals of your application, and your Individual Decertification Forms to the Regional Office of the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) that looks after your part of Canada. You may also want to call the Board to ask what office to submit to. Do not use your employer’s fax.

If you fax your documents to the CIRB, make sure you use a fax cover sheet with the following information:

  • Your name, address, phone and fax number.
  • The address, phone and fax number of the CIRB office that you are sending them to.
  • The date and time of your fax.
  • The fax number from where you are sending your documents (if different from your fax number).
  • The fax number from where you are sending your documents (if different from your fax number).

Conclusion

Once the CIRB gets your application, it'll contact the Union and your employer to inform them about your application. If the Union or the employer have any concerns, they can send them to the Board. Unions quite often write the Board to say that there is or might be employer involvement. In the end they will have to provide some evidence or try to get the Board to hold a hearing and ask employee and employer witnesses questions under oath.

The Board will review your application. The Board almost always looks at the "voluntariness" of applications. It'll look to see if your employer was involved in any way. If the Board has concerns, your spokesperson will have to address them at a hearing.

If no objections are received, the hearing can be canceled. But, if there is hearing the Board will contact you to find out how many witnesses you'll call and about how long they will each talk.

If the Board agrees your application was voluntary, it was made at the right time and enough employees support it, the Board will call a vote of all employees. If a majority of employees vote for decertification, your application will be successful and the Union will be decertified.

Updated: 2014-11-07
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