Ontario  -  Construction
How to Decertify a Union

Please Note: These instructions are not applicable in the specific case where your Company is in the Construction Industry, is performing Non-ICI work, and your Application is made within the first year of the unionization of your Company. For all other situations these instructions apply.

Introduction

Decertification basically means getting rid of a Union. It happens when enough of Employees do not want to be unionized. If you can prove this you may be able to Terminate the Union. But, there are rules you must follow.

Voluntary Recognition means the union was never actually “Certified” by the Labour Board. So, getting rid of the Union should not be thought of as Decertifying. Instead think of Terminating the Union.

Using our step-by-step instructions, you should be able to apply to Terminate the 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."

A word about Voluntary Recognition

The Ontario Labour Relations Act says very little about Voluntary Recognition of a Union by an Employer. Generally it happens in 1 of 2 ways:

  • An Employer and a Union make a deal to bargain a Collective Agreement.
  • An Employer and a Union simply reach a deal on a Collective Agreement and there may, or may not, ever be a Ratification Vote about the Collective Agreement.

Either way, the Ontario Labour Relations Act does have a section to allow for the Termination of these Union and Employer deals.

Timing your Deceretification

You can only apply to Terminate the Union during an Open Period. An Open Period can be one of the following:

  • Within the last 2 months of a Construction Collective Agreement;
  • If the Collective Agreement is for a term of more than 36 months, also during the last 2 months of each year of the Collective Agreement after the second year (the 35th and 36th months, the 47th and 48th months, etc.), and the last two months of the Collective Agreement if the overall term includes a partial year (54 months or 4.5 years for example).
  • If the Collective Agreement says that it will continue unless the Union or the Employer gives notice to end it or renegotiate it, there is also an Open Period during the last 2 months of the Collective Agreement and the last 2 months of each year it is continued.

If a Collective Agreement has never been reached or it has expired you may have an Open Period. In these circumstances the timing of your Open Period will depending on whether the Ministry of Labour has appointed a Conciliation Officer and how long you have been unionized without a Collective Agreement in place. If you call the toll free number LabourWatch may be able to help provide you with some information confirming whether or not you are in an Open Period.

Get the Forms

Our website has ALL of the Forms you need in one Download. Although the Ontario Labour Board website has some of the Forms, not all of the Forms you need are located on their website and they are not all organized together in one location for you.

In Ontario, every third year (for example in 2016, then in 2019, and so on) the Board has different procedures. Our download package includes Information Bulletin 32 that applies for these Open Periods.

See the Links section on the website to connect to the Ontario Labour Board's website.

Click here to go to the Ontario Labour Board for MS Word versions of their Forms.

Collecting Evidence of Employee Support – How to decide between a Petition or Individual Decertification Forms.

In order for you or a group of your fellow Employees to Terminate the Union, you need to have Evidence that more than 40% of you working on the day you decide to file the Application no longer want to be unionized. There are generally two ways for you to gather this Evidence.

Option 1: You can have each Employee who no longer wants to be unionized sign an Individual Decertification Form. If using one of these Forms, you should have each Employee sign one Form. It is better that you do not request or ask Employees to sign such Forms while you are at work on paid time. If the people you work with want more privacy then the Individual Decertification Forms might be better than a Petition.

TIP: If you are using the Individual Decertification Forms, print one page (3 Forms per page) and pre-fill in the Employer and Union name, (don't forget the Union Local number if there is one) before making copies. Then, when you cut the pages into three separate Forms, you have made sure everyone has the correct Employer and Union information. Don't pre-fill any more than the Union's name though and read more about Avoiding Mistakes on the next page. It is better that you do not use your Employer’s computer or printer when printing these documents off.

Option 2: You may get all the Employees who no longer want to be unionized to sign a Petition. This way, you have fewer documents as Evidence because you can have many names on one page. You may also have more than one page in the Petition. Sometimes Employees like to sign along with others. It may be easier to get more signatures this way. If you think that would be good, you may want to use a Petition. But with some Employees, privacy may be more important and some Employees may not sign a Petition because other Employees might or will see their name and signature. The Individual Decertification Form will be better to use instead for those individual employees.

The choice is yours in terms of going with option 1 or 2. Or you could use a combination of both types; Petition and Individual Decertification Forms.

Whether you use a Petition or the Individual Decertification Forms (or both) as Evidence, make sure you read our Avoiding Mistakes section that might help the Union and the Labour Board block your effort to become Union-free.

Collecting Evidence of Employee Support – Cancellation of Union Membership or Application for Membership.

When you and a group of your fellow Employees no longer want a Union to represent you and you sign either a Petition or Individual Decertification Cards and then successfully Terminate the Union, there is the possibility that the Union may re-apply to unionize you again using your Union cards as Evidence that there is support for the Union.

Some Unions are applying right after Termination Applications file. Unions ask the Board to process their Application immediately if the Termination or Decertification wins. It looks like the Union does not need Employee permission to use old cards or other proof such as Union Dues. Unions have been delaying their approval of Application for Union Membership. Why?

Generally in Ontario Construction, employees must also be actual Union Members (in good standing) to sign a card to get rid of the Union, to be the Applicant, to vote.

Some Unions who delayed approval of Membership have quickly and quietly approved employees so that the Union can use the cards of just approved employees – without telling them – to ask the Board to unionize, on Union Cards, without a vote by having 55% or more on cards.

By explicitly Cancelling any Union Membership card with your name on it you prevent the Union from claiming you support the Union. This may seem odd, considering that you and your fellow Employees have just signed a Petition or a Decertification Card, but it is a necessary step to ensure that the Union cannot re-apply to unionize you without a vote right after the Decertification is successful. Unionization in Construction on cards alone is allowed in Ontario.

Use the Form titled Cancellation of Union Membership or Application for Membership along with the other signature gathering Forms to prevent this from being done by the Union.

Avoiding Mistakes

General Mistakes

To succeed, you may have to show that your Employer wasn't involved in Terminating the Union in ways that are not allowed. So, you should make sure that:

  • It was not your Employer's idea to start 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 Employer.
  • It is better to avoid using equipment at work such as computers, copiers and fax machines for your paperwork. It's a good idea that if you make copies at a store where you have to pay for them - keep all receipts as further proof that you did not use Employer equipment.

NOTE: You will not be filling in all the Forms you have received in the Download package. The Labour Board says that you must send the Union and your Employer some blank Labour Board Forms and Information Bulletins that are in our Download package. This means that you will have to make several copies of some of these Forms. In the case of the Information Bulletins you are going to make copies and never fill anything out on them at all.

Application Support Form Mistakes

Whether you and your supporters chose to sign Individual Decertification Forms or a Petition, it is important that each document have the full name of the Employer and the full name of the Union and Local (if applicable) on it because if this wording is not included on each document the Ontario Labour Board may not accept some or all of the signatures:

  • Any Form that people sign to support the Application must have the wording that is at the top of the Petition. You cannot use a blank page of signatures and just attach it, the Labour Board will reject that. That is why the wording on our blank Petition is identical to the wording on our blank Individual Decertification Forms.
  • Before gathering signatures, you must complete the section at the top of our Forms to include the full name of the Union and the Union’s Local, if there is one, as well as the full name of the Employer. The names of each on the Collective Agreement (if there is one) should be acceptable. If there is no Collective Agreement then look online or just ask the Employer and Union officials for their full name and contact information (without telling them why of course).
  • It is always safer to approach and get interested Employees to sign the documents while both you and they are not on paid work time. This is not required by law but it is always better if it is possible. People who support your Application should sign an Individual Decertification Form or a Petition when they are not working or while Management is present - they should be on a break during work or do it before or after work. If the Employer knows you are gathering signatures on working time and does nothing to stop you, the Union might accuse the Employer of supporting the Decertification by "turning a blind eye" to your efforts.
  • As well as signing, Employees have to print their name so that it is easy to read. This is a recommendation not a legal rule.
  • Every person who signs support Evidence must write in the date while they are signing. You must not date it before they sign. The date must be added immediately after they sign and while they are still present. Do not add it at a later time.
  • If the Union has a Local number make sure to include it in the Union name on anything you send to the Labour Board, including support Forms.
  • If you are using a Petition with multiple pages, number the pages that you use in the format of “page 1 of 5", then "page 2 of 5" and so on. If you have more than one page of the Petition in circulation this will become important.

Gather Proof of Work Performed on the Day of Application

It is common for the union to claim that you were not working, or that you were not doing Bargaining Unit work on the Day of Application. To handle this probability, it is important that you are able to prove that the people who signed for Termination or Decertification were actually working on the day that you file the Application. So gather evidence to oppose the Union claim that people were not doing such work. Examples of evidence that you can collect and present to the Board to refute the union's claims are:

  • Photos of the location where you worked, both from the outside of the jobsite as well as the specific areas within the jobsite where you worked.
  • Photos of any jobsite logs that you may sign in and out of. Note: it is especially important that you sign in AND out if this is a regular step.
  • Send the photos to another Employee or Manager on the day you take them.
  • If there is a Security Guard, Police, or other people at the jobsite such as a Site Supervisor, then make sure to interact with them a couple of times, both when you start and when you finish. You may need a statement from them.
  • Copies of any parking passes or payments made while at the jobsite.
  • Some smart phones have GPS location tracking features that track and store (for a while) where you were.
  • Any other evidence you can find that proves that you were on the job on the Day of Application.

Build Support

You should not use illegal threats or promises or illegal pressure to get fellow Employees to sign whatever Evidence of support you chose, Individual Decertification Form or 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 40 percent or more of your group sign a document and you file your Application, there will hopefully be a secret ballot vote, supervised by the Labour Board, where every Employee in the group can vote in private. Not everyone who signs in support will necessarily vote for Decertification, but some who are reluctant to sign may vote for Decertification in the secret ballot vote. The vote will typically take place 5 to 8 days after the Union and the Employer are served with your Application.

Check your Collective Agreement and read the section or definition about "Bargaining Unit." This is often called the "Recognition" or “Scope” clause, and is usually located near the beginning of the Collective Agreement. You will need to collect the names and signatures of at least 40% of the group mentioned in that definition who are working on the day you file your Application with the Ontario Labour Board. It is important to note that you and supporters of the Decertification can file the Application for Decertification with the Ontario Labour Board on any day, including weekends.

You should also remember that it is quite likely that you will have to prove the signatures on your support Evidence were given "freely" and "voluntarily."

Prepare the Application Forms

To properly complete your Application Form, you will need:

  • The contact name, address, facsimile (or fax) & phone number and an email address for all three "Parties" involved:
    1. The Applicant - that's the person leading the Decertification or Termination.
    2. The Union - that would be the most senior Union official responsible for your Bargaining Unit, likely the President of your Local. A Shop Steward will not be good enough.
    3. Your Employer.
  • A description of your "Bargaining Unit" (see a copy of your Collective Agreement if there is one). Only use the full Union name including a Local if there is one. If there is no Collective agreement then you need to find out the names of the Employer and Union that signed the Voluntary Recognition Collective Agreement or, if Certified, get the Bargaining Unit description from the Labour Board ruling. Go to CanLii.org or the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Online Labour Library the Collective Agreements e-Library Portal and search for your Employer’s name.
  • The addresses of all locations where Bargaining Unit Employees are working on the day that the Application is to be filed with the Labour Board, known as the Application Filing Date.
  • An approximate number of Employees who were performing Bargaining Unit work for the majority of the day on the day the Application is filed with the Ontario Labour Board.
  • The date the Collective Agreement was signed, when it became effective and when it expires (if one exists).
  • "Evidence" that Employees don't want the Union - The Individual Decertification Form or Petition mentioned above and the Cancellation of Union Membership or Application for Membership Form.
  • A list of the names of the Employees who signed "Evidence" Forms. This list must be alphabetical and on a separate page - we have provided a Form for you to do this.
  • You also need to recommend a date, time and place for an Employee vote. The vote will normally take place 5 to 8 days (excluding weekends and public holidays) after the Application Filing Date. You should recommend who you want to "scrutinize" the counting of the votes. This person should not be a supervisor or Manager working for your Employer. It can be you or another Employee who is helping support the Decertification.
  • We suggest you make four separate piles of all the Forms you have to work with. Make piles for: the Union, your Employer, the Labour Board (who, where possible must get the Originals), and yourself. Keep a photocopy of all Original documents that you send to anyone else.

Deliver the Forms

When you apply to Terminate a Union in the Construction industry you have to file/deliver the packages described below as follows:

  1. First you file with the Ontario Labour Board. These materials may be filed using any means except Registered Mail, e-mail or fax. This means you can hand deliver the materials to the Ontario Labour Board (open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm except Statutory Holidays) or you can you deliver the materials by using Canada Post's Priority Courier service at any Canada Post outlet that is open, including retail stores such as Shoppers’ Drug Mart. This can be done on weekends should you file your Application on a Saturday, Sunday, or Statutory Holiday. If the Application is sent to the Labour Board by Canada Post's Priority Courier service, the Application Filing Date is the date the Application was accepted by Canada Post. When planning ahead to file on a weekend or Statutory Holiday be sure that there is a Canada Post that will be open.
  2. Second, deliver two separate packages, one to the Union and another your Employer. These must be delivered within 2 business days of the Application Filing Date. You can deliver your Application and supporting documents to the Union and your Employer by hand-delivery, Canada Post's Priority Courier Service or fax. Keep any proof of delivery that you can get from any Courier or fax machine.
  3. Finally, you deliver one last Form to the Labour Board (A-81) that tells them when you did all of this. Once again, you can hand deliver the materials to the Ontario Labour Board or you can you deliver the materials by using Canada Post's Priority Courier service.

To the Labour Board:

You can send your Decertification documents by any means including hand delivery or Canada Post's Priority Courier service. You may not send your documents to the Labour Board by Registered Mail, e-mail or fax.

You must deliver or send the following documents to the Ontario Labour Board:

  1. 2 copies of the completed Form A-77: Application for Termination of Bargaining Rights. Send them the original and another photocopy. Don't forget to keep a copy for your records too.
  2. "Evidence" - Individual Decertification Forms or Petition mentioned above (proving that the Employees do not wish to be represented by the Union) and the Cancellation of Union Membership or Application for Membership Forms (proving that the Employees don’t want to be unionized again). The Evidence must be in writing, signed by each Employee who no longer wishes to be represented by the Union and the date that the Employee's signature was obtained. (If you haven't yet, read the section above about our Forms and their use.) Put the full Union name in the proper space on all Evidence. Keep copies for yourself. The original Petition pages or Individual Decertification Forms go to the Labour Board.
  3. A completed list of Employees who signed the Petition or Individual Decertification Forms and the Cancellation of Union Membership or Application for Membership Form, in alphabetical order (you can use the suggested Form for this that is on our website in the Download package - you do not use the Employer's Schedule C Form).
  4. A completed Form A-80: Declaration Verifying Evidence of Employee Wishes (Form A-80), also keep a photocopy for your records.
  5. Later - After you have delivered all of the required Forms to your Employer and the Union, you have to send the Labour Board one last Form, the A-81. Note that near the bottom of this Form, the Board says that if you use Canada Post Priority Courier Service you must include a copy of the receipt Canada Post gave you when you sent the documents to the Labour Board the first time. Keep the Original Courier Receipt and a copy of the A-81 for your records.

Our website has ALL of the Forms you need in one Download. The Labour Board website has some of the Forms, but not all and each one is a separate Download.

The Labour Board refers to the day that they receive your document package as the Application Filing Date. If you use Canada Post's Priority Courier service the Labour Board will count the Application Filing Date as the date that Canada Post accepted the documents from you. If you use any other courier service then they will count the date they actually receive your documents in their offices as the Application Filing Date. Keep any receipts for delivery.

Remember to keep a copy of everything you sent for your records. Here is where you have to send it:

Ontario Labour Relations Board
2nd Floor - 505 University Avenue
Toronto, ON M5G 2P1 - (416) 326-7500 - main phone number

To the Union:

The package you deliver to the Union must contain very specific documents and be in a very exact order. The Labour Board calls this the "Construction Termination Package (Union)".

You must deliver the Construction Termination Package (Union) no later than two days after the Application Filing Date, mentioned above. Deliver your Forms package to the most senior Union official responsible for your Bargaining Unit - likely the President of your Local. Generally your Steward will not be considered to be the "most senior" and unions have been known to fight Employee Decertifications on the technicality of who is and is not the "most senior".

You can deliver your Application and supporting documents to the Union by hand-delivery, Canada Post's Priority Courier Service or fax. Keep any proof of delivery that you can get from any Courier or fax machine.

You are required to deliver the following documents to the Union, remember that they must be in this order:

  1. A completed Form A-77: Application for Termination of Bargaining Rights. Send them a photocopy because the original has to go somewhere else.
  2. A completed Form C-34: Notice to Union of Application for Termination of Bargaining Rights Under Section 63 or 132 of the Act, Construction Industry. You just have to fill in page 1 with your Applicant's name, the full Union name (including the Local if there is one) and then date the Form on page 3. Send them the Original and keep a photocopy for your records.
  3. A blank Form A-78: Response to Application for Termination of Bargaining Rights Under Section 63 or 132 of the Act, Construction Industry.
  4. A copy of Information Bulletin No. 7 - Termination of Bargaining Rights in the Construction Industry Under Section 63 or 132 of the Act.
  5. A copy of Information Bulletin No. 8 - Vote Arrangements in the Construction Industry.
  6. A copy of Information Bulleting No. 10 - Status Disputes in Termination Applications in the Construction Industry.
  7. A copy of Information Bulletin No. 32 - Resolving Disputes in Displacement and Termination Applications in the Construction Industry during the Construction Open Period; and
  8. A copy of Part V of the Ontario Labour Board Rules of Procedure.

Yes, you really do have to provide copies of these Information Bulletins even though there is nothing you have to fill out on them. Our website has ALL of the Forms you need in one Download. The Labour Board website has the Forms too, but each one is a separate Download. They will also mail their blank Forms to you if you call them.

Click here to go to the Ontario Labour Board for MS Word versions of the Labour Board Forms.

To Your Employer:

The package you deliver to your Employer must contain very specific documents and be in a very exact order. The Labour Board calls this the "Construction Termination Package (Employer)".

You must deliver the Construction Termination Package (Employer) no later than two days after the Application Filing Date, mentioned above.

You can deliver your Application and supporting documents to your Employer by hand-delivery, Canada Post's Priority Courier Service or fax.

  1. A completed Form A-77: Application for Termination of Bargaining Rights. Send them a photocopy because the original has to go somewhere else.
  2. A completed for C-35: Notice to Employer of Application for Termination of Bargaining Rights Under Section 63 or 132 of the Act, Construction Industry. You just have to fill in page 1 with your Applicant's name, the full Union name (Including the Local if there is one) and then date the Form on page 3. Send them the original and keep a photocopy for your records.
  3. A blank Form A-79: Intervention in Application for Termination of Bargaining Rights Under Section 63 or 132 of the Act, Construction Industry;
  4. A blank Form A-124: Confirmation of Posting;
  5. A blank Schedule C, Construction Industry and Instructions: list of Employees for your Employer to fill in;
  6. A copy of Information Bulletin No. 7 - Termination of Bargaining Rights in the Construction Industry Under Section 63 or 132 of the Act;
  7. A copy of Information Bulletin No. 8 - Vote Arrangements in the Construction Industry;
  8. A copy of Information Bulletin No. 10 - Status Disputes In Termination Applications in the Construction Industry; and
  9. A copy of Information Bulletin No. 32 - Resolving Disputes in Displacement and Termination Applications in the Construction Industry during the Construction Open Period; and
  10. A copy of Part V of the Labour Board's Rules of Procedure.

Yes, you really do have to provide copies of these Information Bulletins even though there is nothing you have to fill out on them. Our website has ALL of the Forms you need in one Download. The Labour Board website has the Forms too, but each one is a separate Download. They will also mail their Forms if you call them.

Click here to go to the Ontario Labour Board for MS Word versions of the Labour Board Forms.

You must file the above first with the Labour Board and then within 2 days you must deliver everything else to the Union and your Employer. The Labour Board calls the date you deliver your package to them the Application Filing Date. Remember, if you use Canada Post Priority Courier Service then the Application Filing Date is the date on which Canada Post accepts the delivery from you. If you use any other means of delivery, then the Application Filing Date is the date the Labour Board actually receives your delivery.

NOTE: We strongly recommend you take no chances and, if filing times are close, make sure the Labour Board gets their documents from you BEFORE 5 pm Eastern time, when the Labour Board officially closes. Any documents received after 5 pm Eastern time are considered to have been received on the next business day that the Labour Board is open. People may say you have until midnight, but the Board closes at 5:00pm. A fax received by the Labour Board after 5:00pm is considered to have been received on the next business day.

A Final Word on Delivering Your Documents

A Construction Industry Termination Application of a Voluntary Recognition must be filed with the Labour Board before the packages are sent to the Union and the Employer. The day that the Application is filed is called the "Application Filing Date". Only those Employees performing work in the Bargaining Unit affected by the Application on the Application Filing Date will count for the purposes of the Termination Application. So, it is important to decide on exactly what date you will file your Application with the Labour Board Once you have delivered the required documentation to the Union and to the Employer you must complete and file a Form A-81 (Certificate of Delivery). If you sent the Labour Board the Application and supporting documents by Canada Post Priority Courier you will need to include a copy of the receipt to go with the Form A-81. It is recommended that you keep a detailed summary of the work performed by each Employee for the entire day on which the Application is filed with the Labour Board.

Conclusion

Once the Labour Board gets your Application, it will review it for a few things. It will look to see if your Employer was involved in any way. If the Labour Board has concerns or receives an objection from the Union or your Employer, your spokesperson may have to address them at a hearing. If your Employer (members of Management) were illegally involved in your Termination Application the Union could make a case that the Labour Board should throw it out and there might not be a vote held and you might have to wait for the next Open Period which could be at least a couple of years away.

If your Application is not found to be illegally initiated by the Employer, was made at the right time, and enough Employees support it, then the Labour Board will call a secret ballot vote of all Employees. If a majority of the Employees who cast a ballot actually vote NO to being unionized, your Application will be successful and the Union’s Bargaining Rights will be terminated.

Updated: 2016-06-29

Forms

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