Prince Edward Island  -  Non-Construction
Union Unfair Labour Practices
What Things Might Be An Unfair Labour Practice (ULP) By A Union?

The Prince Edward Island Labour Act contains numerous provisions that prohibit inappropriate conduct by Unions and individuals acting on behalf of Unions toward individual employees.

It is important to understand that there must be evidence that the inappropriate behaviour actually influenced employees. The behaviour must have made them change their mind and support the Union or not, (i.e., to: sign a card or not sign a card, cancel a card or not cancel a card, sign or not sign for decertification), or oppose another Union. If the Union’s actions did not cause any employees to change their minds, the Prince Edward Island Labour Relations Board may refuse to find an Unfair Labour Practice has been committed. It will usually refuse to reject the membership evidence obtained as a result of the inappropriate behaviour.

  • A Union may not force an employer to bargain with it even though another trade Union represents the employees.
  • Unions are also not entitled to attempt to persuade employees, at the employee’s place of work during working hours, to join, not join, or cease to be a member of a Union, without the employer’s consent. (Consent would include an employer specifically authorizing such activities or failing to stop them when they become aware.)
  • A Union may not discriminate against a person because he or she disclosed something he or she was required to disclose under the Prince Edward Island Labour Act.
  • A Union may not discriminate against a person because he or she made an application or complaint under the Prince Edward Island Labour Act.
  • A Union cannot threaten you, corner you, harass you, or otherwise bully you into signing a membership card - that is “Intimidation”.
  • The Union cannot tell you that if you do not sign you will lose your job.

If you feel the Union has violated any of these points you should go to our ULP Download section and file a ULP.

Updated: 2006-09-01
What Can I Do If I Believe The Union Is Misleading Me?

Unfortunately, Unions are held to a different standard than Employers when it comes to an organizing drive. Compared to Unions or Employees, an Employer is limited in what it can say or do. A Union is allowed and even encouraged to convince Employees of the benefits of Union membership. Employees who oppose or support the Union can equally campaign to encourage their fellow Employees to join, not join or cancel their membership cards, though they too are bound by Prince Edward Island Labour Act.

Fact: Unions very rarely sign up 100% of Employees.

For example, unfortunately Unions often pressure you by telling you that you are the last to sign and surely you don’t want to be the last to sign. When an outside Union organizer or a fellow employee supporting the Union tells you this, you may want to confirm for yourself if other employees have signed. In particular, talk to other Employees and find out who else has been told they were the “only” Employee who had not signed. Unions often say this and it is almost never true. Rarely do 99%, let alone 100%, of all employees sign a card in a Union drive.

The “stack of cards” and the you’re-the-last-one trick.

Another tactic, according to what Union organizers tell LabourWatch, is to have a stack of cards or papers that the organizer claims are signed by other employees. Sometimes they make up cards or they have actual cards on the top of the pile and the rest are blank. They do this to make you think you are one of the last to sign; they also want you to feel like you’re “part of the crowd.”

LabourWatch suggests that you never sign a Union card just because fellow Employees or Union organizers tell you that you are the last to sign, that most have signed, or they show you stacks of cards. Organizers are most likely not telling the truth. If you have signed a card after being told this you may want to cancel it right away. See our Download about how to cancel your card. If the Union uses this sort of tactic you should ask yourself what other lies they tell and whether you can trust them with Union dues and your employment. Check into most everything a Union says before signing a card.

While such lies might be an Unfair Labour Practice – the misinformation “coerced” you into signing a card – it will be very hard to prove. In the end the Prince Edward Island Labour Relations Board might say this kind of technique or “mere puffery” is allowed. It is best to first cancel any signed cards. After that, file a ULP and ensure all other Employees find out what you believe the Union might be doing. LabourWatch suggests you file the ULP because Canada needs more cases of Employees calling into question what Unions do in order to establish more case law on Union actions towards Employees.

Ask questions, talk to your fellow Employees, friends, and family, question and try to confirm the Union’s claims. Find out what the Union has told other Employees.

Membership is not mandatory – unless that is negotiated later

Remember, you are not required to sign a Union membership application or Union card. You are permitted to join the Union after they are certified (if they get certified).

Also, if your Employer gives in to a common Union demand to have a “forced membership” clause in the collective agreement, you will be a member whether you want to or not. A Union card or membership application tells the PEILRB that you want the Union to represent you in your dealings with the Employer. It never means less than that, so if you are unsure, don’t sign.

If you believe that the Union is misleading you, the best thing to do is not sign a membership application or Union card until you are satisfied that the Union has given you correct information. If you have signed and later get information that concerns you, cancel your card immediately. See our Download for cancelling a Union card.

Unions don’t have to tell you everything

A Union is not required to give you all of the relevant information to help you decide to join or not join. PEILRB decisions make it clear that it is your responsibility to have all your questions answered before you sign an application for Union membership. If you allege that the Union obtained membership cards through fraud (signing cards for employees who never agreed to sign or paying the legally required card fee) (see What If The Union Uses A Card I Did Not Sign, Or That I Cancelled? for more information on these topics), the PEILRB will decide how to deal with those allegations. If you do allege that there were irregularities about how the Union obtained membership cards, you must present proof to the PEILRB. It’s not enough to simply make the allegations.

If you’ve been misled

If you find out that you have been misled, or have reason to feel you have been lied to it is very important that you act quickly – there may be little time once you have signed a Union card. It could be used to get a vote on the Union or even a card certification (certification without a vote). If you feel the Union, or someone representing the Union has misled you, and that you signed a card in an organizing campaign because of that information, the first thing you should do is cancel your Union card. After that, file an Unfair Labour Practice Complaint with the PEILRB. See our Downloads section – Cancellation of a Union Card for a how-to description with forms.

Updated: 2006-09-01
What If The Union Uses A Card I Did Not Sign, Or That I Cancelled?

If an application for certification is filed before you cancel or “resign” your membership, then you have the right to file a notice of objection, stating the circumstances that led you to sign the card, with a statutory declaration. If you believe this to be the case, we suggest you seek independent legal advice, or you can file it on your own, using the download from our website. If you are considering this, don't delay. The Prince Edward Island Labour Relations Board requires that a notice of objection be filed promptly, usually within 10 days after a notice of application for certification is posted in a workplace.

A Union card filed with a certification application is only valid if you, the Employee, have paid at least $2.00 as Union dues within 3 months of the filing date of the application. If you know that you signed a card more than 3 months before you knew about the application, chances are there may be other cards which may have become “stale dated.” Those cards should not have been used by the Union to give the PEILRB evidence of support for the Union. The Union is not allowed to use cards older than 3 months or cards where the person signing does not personally pay at least $2.00.

It is fraud for a Union to submit a card that you did not sign or a card that you told the Union you cancelled. It should result in your membership or Union card not being counted. In some cases, the PEILRB may take a more serious action against the Union. At a minimum they should not count your card in the decision of whether or not the Union gets a vote. Given the very tight timelines involved in Union certification drives, by the time you realize what has happened, it may be too late. If you believe there has been “card fraud,” work with your fellow Employees to gather the necessary evidence and submit it quickly.

If someone else signed your name on the card without your permission, this is forgery, and it may also be appropriate to call the Police in addition to filing a ULP.

Updated: 2006-09-01
I Signed A Union Card But The Union Did Not Tell Me About Dues.

Prince Edward Island law is silent on when dues begin, but it is common practice that Unions do not start collecting dues until a first Collective Agreement is accepted or ratified by the members of the Union.

There is no requirement for the Union to tell you about dues. However, if the Union has misled you about Union dues, or told you that you will not have to pay Union dues - that may be an Unfair Labour Practice. You should ask the Union Representative about Dues, Initiation Fees, and Special Assessment Fees that might be payable.

Get as much information as possible. Do not sign a Union card when it is first given to you. You should make yourself knowledgeable about what it means to sign any document – especially one that removes your right to deal with your Employer directly. You should find out as much as possible about how your signature on a Union membership card can affect your future. You should ask questions of the Union representative or whoever is trying to get you to sign, and you should help others become knowledgeable about what you have learned.

If you have signed a Union membership card or application, but did not receive the required information about dues, or you believe that the Union committed fraud, intimidation or coercion in getting your membership, then you can resign the membership if the resignation takes place before an application for certification is filed. Go to our How to Cancel a Union Card FAQ

Updated: 2006-09-01
I Was Told That I Would Lose My Job if I Did Not Sign a Union Card.

No, that is not true. This is a threat and it is an Unfair Labour Practice for a Union Organizer to make this kind of threat.

If your workplace is Unionized, your Employer and the Union may agree that all Employees must be members in “good standing” of the Union. If your Employer agrees to this common Union demand and you refuse to join the Union (or the Union refuses to grant you membership), you will be unable to continue employment with your Employer. Further, in the construction industry, some collective agreements automatically apply once an Employer is unionized and the requirement that the Employer’s Employees are members in “good standing” will exist in these agreements and your Employer has no choice but to apply them to you.

It is important to note that if a Union certification application is successful, you may be required to join the Union if a Collective Agreement is ratified (approved). It depends on the Collective Agreement that your Employer agrees to. Also if a collective agreement does not require you to join the Union, you will be free to join the Union at a later time.

In Unionized workplaces in Prince Edward Island, you must (in most cases), join a Union that is certified by the Prince Edward Island Labour Relations Boardonce a Collective Agreement is negotiated. You must remain a member in good standing. If you refuse to join or are thrown out of the Union they may be able to force your Employer to fire you, It depends on what is in your Collective Agreement. You may recall or sometimes see media stories about Unions threatening their members with this possibility.

Updated: 2006-09-01
I Was Told That The Initiation Fee Would Go Up After The Union Certifies.

If a Union tells you that the fee for becoming a Union member will be higher after they unionize your workplace, it would likely not be considered an Unfair Labour Practice as long as the Union does not break its own by-laws or constitution in doing so. The Union has sole power to decide its Dues, Fees, and Special Assessments including the right to raise them. This is why it is so important for you to obtain a copy of the Union’s bylaws and constitution.

Before signing a Union card or any membership document, you should review the Union’s by-laws and constitution. This should be your main source of information about how the Union will act. Reviewing these documents will give you the information to help you decide if signing a Union membership document is in your best interest.

A Union that, or a person who – acting on behalf of a Union, solicits support for an application for certification should provide an Employee with information about the amount payable, or reasonably expected to be payable, for any initiation fees and regular membership dues if the Employee asks for it. If you are not provided with this information, ask for it!

If you cannot get these documents you should not sign a Union card. Demand that the Union organizer give them to you first. If they tell you that you have to sign a card first, consider what sort of Union you are joining.

Updated: 2006-09-01
What Can An Employee Do About A Union Unfair Labour Practice (ULP)?

LabourWatch provides a Form for employees covered by the Prince Edward Island Labour Act along with a set of instructions to help you file an Unfair Labour Practice Complaint against a Union. It sets out all the required information you must complete when making a complaint. There may be Prince Edward Island Labour Relations Board information officers who should answer any questions you have. At LabourWatch we are very interested in learning about Employee concerns about Union conduct. Please call or email us (see Contact Us) and tell us about your experience with a Union and the PEILRB if you file an Unfair Labour Practices Complaint.

If you believe that someone from the Union or acting on behalf of the Union has acted in a way that amounts to a ULP as described in Questions 2 - 7, you may file an Unfair Labour Practice Complaint against the Union. Get the filing instructions from our site and follow the instructions. If you are confused or do not understand anything make sure to speak with one of the Employee Advisors in our Contacts section or Contact us at LabourWatch. The PEILRB website also has Forms available that cover this topic.

If you want to officially complain that your Union has disciplined, expelled or suspended you in a discriminatory manner, you may have to go through your Union’s grievance or appeal process before you can make a complaint to the PEILRB. If your Union won’t let you use its grievance or appeal process, you can make your complaint to the PEILRB and explain why you haven’t gone to your Union first.

An Employee or group of Employees should get independent legal advice, but an Employee or a group may file a ULP with or without a lawyer. An example of a basic form of a ULP complaint and the required statutory declaration may be downloaded from this site.

Updated: 2006-09-01
What Would The Labour Board Do About Union Unfair Labour Practice (ULP)?

If the Prince Edward Island Labour Relations Boardupholds a complaint, it may order a remedy that is not aimed at punishing the party that committed an infraction, but rather at putting the complainants in the position they would have been in had the infraction not occurred.

It is important to identify who it was that broke the law, because the PEILRB applies a different standard of conduct for Employee organizers or Union supporters, than for the people that the Union pays to organize your workplace. The PEILRB considers whether the Union has acted illegally, but also whether the illegal conduct actually influenced anyone to sign a card. If the illegal conduct didn't change the Employee's mind, the PEILRB has usually dismissed the objection.

Some of the other possible remedies, depending on the ULP complaint would be:

  • If it occurs during a certification drive, the PEILRB may throw out the certification application.
  • They would require the Union to remove any discipline applied against a Union member.
  • Require the Union to pay an Employee for any money lost because the trade Union did not follow the law.

Generally, the more serious the breach of the Prince Edward Island Labour Act the more serious the penalty.

Updated: 2006-09-01
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