a group of employees who want union representation will contact an established
union. Employees are also free to form their own union. A union is defined as
an organization or association of employees whose purposes include the regulation of
relations between employees and their employer through collective bargaining. The
Code requires that a union be local or provincial in character, and this can include local
branches of national or international unions. A union must be viable for collective
bargaining that is, it must be capable of carrying out its responsibilities as the
bargaining agent for employees.
association or organization must be free from employer control or influence to fairly
represent employees. It must also comply with the provisions of the Human Rights
Code of British Columbia that is, it must not exclude or otherwise discriminate
against individuals on the grounds of sex, race, religion, physical or mental disability,
colour, age, marital or family status, ancestry, sexual orientation, place of origin,
political belief or a criminal conviction unrelated to employment activities. If the
Board finds that the organization is either employer-dominated or engages in
discrimination contrary to the Human Rights Code, it cannot certify the
organization or association of employees under the Code.
Appropriate bargaining unit
a union applies to be certified, it is applying to represent a specific group of
employees. The Board must decide whether that group of employees is appropriate for
collective bargaining purposes. In order to make that determination, the Board must
specify which employees should be covered by the certification. This is called the
determination of the appropriate bargaining unit. The Board has the exclusive
authority to make that determination.
Board usually determines the appropriate bargaining unit before it can decide whether or
not the union has the support of a majority of the employees in that unit. In
seeking to determine whether a group of employees is appropriate for collective
bargaining, the Board will consider a number of factors, including:
in skills, interests, duties and working conditions;
physical and administrative structure of the employer;
practice and history of the current collective bargaining relationship; and,
practice and history of collective bargaining in the industry or sector.
practical, the Board prefers large bargaining units to small or fragmented groups.
However, a smaller unit will be permitted as long as it is appropriate.
the Board decides that the unit is not appropriate for collective bargaining, it must
dismiss the unions application.
As already indicated, certification will
be granted only if a sufficient number of the employees in the appropriate bargaining unit
want union representation. Under the Code, the wishes of the employees are
Code contains provision for two or more unions to be designated as a single bargaining
agent. The Board will consider creating such a council of unions on the direction of
the Minister of Labour and Citizens' Services.
a council of unions is formed, it becomes the exclusive bargaining agent for all employees
previously represented by the individual unions. This does not mean the previous
unions no longer have a role to play but, in the conduct of collective bargaining, they
must act together under a constitution prepared by them or the Board.
Accredited employers' organizations
are also entitled to band together for bargaining purposes. If a group of employers
decides to seek accreditation under the Code, the result is the formation of a single
bargaining agent to represent them. Like a council of unions, an accredited
employers' organization will have a constitution.
employer member who wishes to withdraw from the organization may apply to the Board to be
deleted from the accreditation. The Board will grant such an application if the