Federal and Territories  -  Construction
How to Decertify a Union

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 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 Canada Industrial Relations Board agrees, you cannot apply during the first six months of 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 (in addition to (a) and (b)) above.
  • 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.
  • If a strike or lockout is occurring, you will need the permission of the CIRB.

Get the Forms

You must make your application in writing and need to use a specific form.

Because you need to prove most of your coworkers don't support the union, you need to collect their names and signatures. employees under the Canada Labour Code can use a petition form but must also have an individual letter for each employee who signs the petition. The letter must be confidential and "authorize the applicant to act on my behalf" and also say that "I do not want the bargaining agent to represent me in collective bargaining with my employer".

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 company's idea to start the application, your application or the purpose of the application was not discussed with anyone from management of your company,
  • 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, and
  • you have not been led to believe your application will be funded in whole or in part by your company.

Build Support

You will need to collect the names and signatures of your coworkers and their individual letters. By the way, you may have to prove the signatures on your petition were given "freely" and "voluntarily" - the letters will help with this.

Make sure signatures are not be 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.

Prepare the Forms

To properly complete your application, you will need:

  • 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.

Deliver the Forms

You can send your decertification documents (your application, petition and letters) by fax, hand-delivery, courier or even registered mail. But, the best way is by 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; and
  • 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 company to inform them about your application. If the union or the company have any concerns, they can send them to the CIRB.

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

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

If the CIRB agrees your application was voluntary, it was made at the right time and enough employees support it, the CIRB will call a vote of all employees. If a majority (50% + 1) of employees, who actually vote, vote for decertification, your application will be successful and the union will be decertified.

As stated above, if the application is made a year after certification but before a collective agreement has been reached, it will examine whether the union has made "reasonable efforts" to reach a collective agreement, and not revoke the certificate unless it is satisfied that the union hasn't.

Updated: 2008-03-28
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