Manitoba  -  Construction
How to Decertify a Union

Introduction

Decertification basically means getting rid of a union. It happens when a majority of employees no longer want to remain unionized. If you can prove this is true, you may be able to decertify the union. But, there are a few rules you need to follow.

If the union was “certified” by the Labour Board, then the official name for Decertification is an "Application for Cancellation of Certification."

Sometimes unions are voluntarily recognized by employers. Then, the official name is an "Application for Termination of Bargaining Rights." The timing, requirements and effect of both are the same so we will refer to "Decertification". By the way, others may call Decertification "revocation of bargaining rights" or "termination of bargaining rights".

Using our step-by-step instructions, you can apply to decertify the union. If you need help, go to our Contacts pages.

Open Periods for Decertification

You can only apply to decertify the union during an Open Period. It is very important to find out the start and end dates of the Collective Agreement, in order to find out when the Decertification Open Period starts and ends. This Open Period can be different based on:

  • When you were unionized.
  • If you have a Collective Agreement or not.
  • If you are in a Strike or Lock Out.
  • And a number of other variables.

Look at the headings below. If you still have questions, call us to speak with one of our Employee Advisors.

The Collective Agreement has not expired.

If the Collective Agreement is for less than 18 months, there is only one Open Period: from the 6th month through to the 4th month before the Collective Agreement ends (referred to as the 2nd last 3 months of the Agreement).

For example: If the Collective Agreement was for 18 months or less - January 1, 2015 until June 30, 2016, the only Open Period for a Decertification Application:

  • January 1, 2016 until March 31, 2016.

If the Collective Agreement is for more than 18 months (at least 18 months plus one day):

  • An Application may be made during the last 3 months before any anniversary date of the Collective Agreement.
  • EXCEPT in the last year. You cannot make an Application in the last 3 months - you can only apply from the 6th month to the 4th month before the Collective Agreement ends (referred to as the 2nd last 3 months).

The most common lengths of Collective Agreements are: 2, 3, or even 4+ years. For example: If the Collective Agreement was for 3 years or 36 months - January 1, 2015 until December 31, 2017, the 3 Open Periods for a Decertification Application:

  • October 1, 2015 until December 31, 2015.
  • October 1, 2016 until December 31, 2016
  • July 1, 2017 until September 30, 2017 (** final year 2nd last 3 months)

The Collective Agreement has expired

  • An Application may be made after 90 days from the expiry of the Collective Agreement, BUT a Strike or Lock Out will close the Open Period. (see Strike or Lock Out, below).

New Unionization (Certification) - Without a Collective Agreement

  • 12 months after initial Certification, maybe. The speed of negotiations and possibility of a first Collective Agreement forced by the Labour Board makes it unclear as to whether a Decertification Open Period will be available after the Certification, and for how long. This is because there are a lot of variables with a new Certification like the union or employer giving "Notice to Bargain", if there is a Conciliation Officer (or not), as well as the possibility of a "freeze" being placed by the Labour Board and some other things. The best rule would be that if you have just been unionized and you feel that you want to get rid of the union (Decertify) then you should speak with one of our Employee Advisors. Contact LabourWatch at Contacts
  • If the Certification of the union was challenged in court, 12 months after the date the Court's proceedings ended.

New Unionization (Certification) - With a Collective Agreement

The Labour Board may force a first Collective Agreement where the employer and union cannot negotiate one. The Board may also force a subsequent Collective Agreement after a Strike or Lock Out of 60 days or more. There is no Open Period at all during forced Agreements, which are usually in place for one year.

If the Collective Agreement (not forced) is for less than 18 months, a Decertification Application may only be made from the 6th month through the 4th month before the Collective Agreement ends (referred to as the 2nd last 3 months of the Agreement).

For example: If a Collective Agreement was for 18 months or less - January 1, 2015 until June 30, 2016, the only Open Period for a Decertification Application:

  • January 1, 2016 until March 31, 2016.

If a Collective Agreement is for more than 18 months (at least 18 months plus one day):

  • An Application may be made during the last 3 months before each anniversary date of the Collective Agreement
  • EXCEPT in the last year. You cannot make an Application in the last 3 months - you can only apply from the 6th month to the 4th month before the Collective Agreement ends (referred to as the 2nd last 3 months).

The most common length of Collective Agreements are: 2, 3, or even 4+ years. For example: If a Collective Agreement was for 3 years or 36 months - January 1, 2015 until December 31, 2017, the 3 Open Periods for a Decertification Application:

  • October 1, 2015 until December 31, 2015.
  • October 1, 2016 until December 31, 2016
  • July 1, 2017 until September 30, 2017 (** final year 2nd last 2 months)

If the Certification of the union was challenged in court, 12 months after the date that the Court's proceedings concluded.

Get the Forms

In Manitoba there are 5 things to be completed.

  1. Form "A" General Information Form. You must make your Application in writing with this Form. Only one of these is needed for the overall Application to decertify the Union. It must be sworn or affirmed by a Commissioner of Oaths or Notary Public. Lawyers are all Notaries.
  2. Either a Form VIII or a Form IX . Find out if the union was certified. The Collective Agreement often includes the Certificate Number. It is most likely that you will need a Form VIII (Cancellation of Certificate) for a certified union but the less frequent "Voluntary Recognition" requires the use of a Form IX (Termination of Bargaining Rights) instead. If the union was voluntarily recognized, use the Form IX. Call the Labour Board if you are unsure of which applies to you.
  3. A Petition. This is used because you need to prove that 50% or more of your coworkers don't support the Union. To do this, you need to collect their names and signatures. We have included an Individual Decertification Form with our Decertification Download. We recommend individual Petitions in the form of our Decertification Download because the union may allege that someone was improperly influenced by seeing another person's name on a group Petition. We don't agree with that, but we want to avoid arguments that might delay the democratic process. Once submitted to the Labour Board, the Individual Decertification Forms become part of the Application. The Board serves the Application the Employer and the union.
  4. Applicant's List Of Employees For Manitoba Labour Board (MLB) ONLY.. This is used by the Manitoba Labour Board only. It is not to be sent to the union or Employer.
  5. Applicant's List Of Employees For Employer And Union Only. This is forwarded by the MLB to the Employer and the union.

Many Applications for Decertification have failed because they don't include necessary information on the Petitions, even with majority support. We strongly recommend that you use the forms in our Download. If you make up your own form, it should include the same information as our Download.

You must name the specific person who will be filing the Application and include it on the Petitions.

You must determine how many employees are in the Bargaining Unit that you wish to decertify. It is a good idea to have as many sign as possible, since there can often be a dispute about how many employees are included in the group, for example, an employee on maternity leave, or sick leave, or layoff usually counts. REMEMBER THAT YOU NEED A MAJORITY OF EMPLOYEES IN THE BARGAINING UNIT TO SIGN A PETITION SUPPORTING YOUR APPLICATION.

The organizer for your Application then completes Form "A" (on Form IX if applicable) and takes it to the Labour Board along with the completed Petitions and lists of employees who have signed.

You can get these forms from our Decertification Download (they are listed at the bottom of this page) or from the Manitoba Labour Board web site under "Forms".

Avoiding Mistakes

  • The forms for Decertification must be filled out fully and accurately.
  • You must use the full, correct name of the union and their local number if they have one.
  • You must have each employee date the Petition at the same date and time as it is signed.
  • Each employee signature must be witnessed and signed off by the person who is asking the employee to sign.
  • If you are going to be the Applicant, ask another employee to witness your signature on your petition.
  • The Application will fail if it is unlawfully promoted or assisted by the employer.
  • You should not approach fellow employees during working time. Meal or coffee breaks are okay and of course, before or after work.
  • You must not use an employer board room or employer photocopier and it is best not to use the employer e-mail system.
  • The employer is not allowed to make promises or offer rewards if a Decertification is successful.
  • The employer cannot offer to pay legal fees for you.
  • Avoid discussing your Application with management and do it on your own.

Other Suggestions

  • It is better if only one person witnesses the signatures on Petitions. The number of employees or shifts may make this impractical. It is still better to limit the number of witnesses to signatures.
  • • We recommend that you get Petitions signed off the worksite, to avoid allegations that the employer participated in the Decertification. There is a space on the Petition for you to indicate the location of where you were when you collected an employee’s signature.
  • Avoid discussing your Application with management and do it on your own.
  • While it is not unlawful to tell your employer about the Decertification, it is best to limit such discussions or not have them at all.

If you need help, consult our website or ask for advice from someone who does not work for your employer. You can ask a lawyer for legal advice, if necessary, but hopefully, the instructions on this web site are all that you need.

Build Support

You should not use unlawful pressure, threats or promises to get fellow employees to sign the Petition. You should think of one or two good reasons why you believe the Union should be decertified. A businesslike and friendly approach works best. Remember, once you have 50 percent or more of your group sign a Petition, and you file your Application, there should be a secret ballot vote, supervised by the Labour Board, where every employee in the group can vote in private. Not everyone who signs will necessarily vote for Decertification, but by the same token, some employees who did not sign may vote for Decertification. The outcome of the vote is determined by those who vote, whether or not they signed a Petition.

The union and fellow employees who support the union may use pressure tactics to oppose your efforts. However, the same rules apply to them - they cannot use threats or promises either. They will look for evidence that the employer is helping you with your Application as you gather support, so play by the rules!

Prepare the Forms

Form A

To properly complete Form A, you will need to collect or prepare the following information:

  • The name and address of the Applicant, or your contact person, (if different than the Applicant).
  • The full name, address, and phone number of the union and your employer.
  • A brief description about what kind of business your employer is involved in.
  • You will fill in the kind of Application (Cancellation or Termination)
  • There is other information to be filled in the blanks on the form. Contact LabourWatch at Contacts if you have questions.

Form VIII – Cancellation of Certificate

To properly complete Form VIII, you will need to collect or prepare the following information:

  • The "Certificate No." for the unionization, and the date it was issued. You can get this from the Labour Board.
  • Fill in the start date and expiry date of the Collective Agreement, along with a copy of the Collective Agreement. This will show that you are in an Open Period to decertify.
  • Our version of the form, included in this download, has spaces for this to be filled in.
  • The number of employees in the Bargaining Unit. Use your best efforts to find out the overall number when you are about to file. Consider whether there are employees on leave or lay-off (they would normally be included).
  • Form VIII says: "The specific grounds for the Applicant's belief and allegation that the Bargaining Agent has lost the support of the majority of the employees in the Bargaining Unit are as follows:" You will need to explain why you think the union has lost support. It is usually stated simply - "A majority of employees approached agreed to support an application to decertify the union and authorized me to apply for them." Our version of the form, included in this download, already has this filled in.

Form IX – Termination of Bargaining Rights

To properly complete Form IX, you will need to collect or prepare the following information:

  • Fill in the start date and expiry date of the Collective Agreement, along with a copy of the Collective Agreement. This will show that you are in an Open Period to decertify.
  • Our version of the form, included in this download, has spaces for this to be filled in.
  • The number of employees in the Bargaining Unit. Use your best efforts to find out the overall number when you are about to file. Consider whether there are employees on leave or lay-off (they would normally be included).
  • Form IX says: "The specific grounds for the Applicant's belief and allegation that the Bargaining Agent has lost the support of the majority of the employees in the Bargaining Unit are as follows:" You will need to explain why you think the union has lost support. It is usually stated simply - "A majority of employees approached agreed to support an application to decertify the union and authorized me to apply for them." Our version of the form, included in this download, already has this filled in.

Applicant's List Of Employees For Manitoba Labour Board (MLB) ONLY

This is an alphabetical list of all of the employees who have signed. This list includes the addresses of the employees and is for the Manitoba Labour Board only because there is no need to send the addresses of the employees who have signed in support to your employer or the union.

  • This report says “Send to MLB as a copy for MLB ONLY” at the top.
  • You prepare one copy of this document. You may use our online form for this purpose.

Applicant's List Of Employees For Employer And Union Only

This is an alphabetical list of all of the employees who have signed. This list DOES NOT include the addresses of the employees who have signed in support because there is no need to send the addresses of the employees to your employer or the union.

  • This report says “Send to MLB as a copy for Employer and Union” at the top.
  • You prepare one copy of this document. You may use our online form for this purpose.

Deliver the Forms

To ensure that your documents get to the Labour Board (especially if you have a deadline for the Open Period) we recommend that you deliver them to the Board or have them delivered. The Board date-stamps Applications on the date received.

The Board requires that any Application must be filed in triplicate - 3 copies, including the originals. Don't forget to keep a copy of everything for yourself too.

Manitoba Labour Board
500-175 Hargrave Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
R3C 3R8
Phone: (204) 945-3783
Facsimile: (204) 945-1296

Conclusion

Once the Labour Board gets your Application, they will contact the union and your employer to inform them about the Application. If the union or the employer have any concerns, they can send them to the Board.

Next, 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 the Board agrees your Application was voluntary, it was made at the right time and 50% or more of the employees support it the Board will call a vote of all employees. If a majority of employees (50% + 1), who actually vote, vote for Decertification your Application will be successful and the union will be decertified.

Updated: 2016-12-16
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