Q. What is an application
A. It is an
application by a trade union for the exclusive right to represent employees in collective
bargaining. A certification order (if
granted) gives the union the right to negotiate for a collective agreement with the
employer, regulating wages and working conditions for the employees.
Q. Do I have any
say in whether my employees unionize?
A. Under the Labour Relations Code, the decision as to whether
or not a group of employees wish to be represented by a union is entirely the decision of those employees.
Q. What support
does a union need to file an application for certification with the Labour Relations
A. A union must
demonstrate membership support of 45% of the employees in an appropriate bargaining unit. The Board will then direct a Returning
Officer to conduct a secret ballot vote to be held within 5 business days of the receipt of the
application of the Board. A union will be
certified if more than 50% of the valid votes cast favour union certification.
Q. How does a union
prove it has the required support?
A. Your payroll
records and the trade union's signed membership cards will be examined by a Board Returning
Officer. This examination is part of the Board's investigation. The
membership information is confidential to the Board.
Q. Now that I've
received this Notice (Notice of Certification Application), what do I have to do?
A. You are required
to post it in a conspicuous place in your business for 5 consecutive working days where
all employees will see it. You are also
required, under the Code, to co-operate with the Returning Officer in making
available to that Officer all records necessary to carry out the Board's investigation and
to conduct the vote. This includes
information necessary to establish your current employees, which may include employees
temporarily absent from work. Before a
hearing is held on the application the report of the Returning Officer will be
made available to the parties.
Q. Can I talk to my
employees about the application?
A. Section 8 of the Code Provides:
Nothing in this Code deprives a person of the freedom to communicate to an employee
a statement of fact or opinion reasonably held with respect to the employer's business.
and intimidation prohibited.
9. A person shall not use coercion or intimidation of
any kind that could reasonably have the effect of
compelling or inducing a person to become or to refrain from becoming a member of a
Q. What kind of
things am I prohibited from doing?
You are prohibited from doing anything
which could interfere with the right of your employees to join a union or have union
representation. Among other things you are
in or interfering with the formation or administration of a union;
suspending, transferring, laying off, or otherwise disciplining an employee during a
certification drive, except for proper cause;
a penalty or promising a benefit in order to compel an employee to refrain from becoming,
or continuing to be a member of a union.
type of conduct is known as an "unfair labour practice". If you have any doubt about the permissibility of
any act, it is recommended that you obtain experienced labour relations advise.
Q. Can I continue
operating my business as usual while this is going on?
A. While an
application is pending you can not, without the permission of the Labour Relations Board,
change rates of pay or alter terms and conditions of employment. This restriction does not affect your right to
suspend, transfer, lay off or discharge an employee for proper cause; however, you may be
required by the Labour Relations Board to
establish that you had proper cause.
Q. If I want advice
do I have to hire a lawyer? As a taxpayer
shouldn't I be able to get it from the Labour Relations Board?
A. The Labour
Relations Board is like a court, dealing with labour relations issues. Board staff are there to provide the public with
general information and assistance; however, they cannot act as your representative or
advisor. If you want legal or other advice
from someone who will represent your interests, you must arrange this at your own expense.
Q. The Returning Officer
has determined that a pre-vote hearing is necessary. What will happen at the pre-vote
A. A Vice-Chair
of the Board will conduct the hearing and may address any issues related to the application.
The Vice-Chair may set a further expedited adjudicative process if necessary, including an
in-person hearing, to address those issues.
The Board will proceed with the hearing despite the absence of any affected person who
has been given notice of the hearing.
The Board also gives notice of the application to other unions that, according to the Board's
records, have a collective bargaining relationship with you.
Q. Why do I have
to go to the expense and inconvenience of coming to Vancouver for a hearing? why can't
it be held here?
A. If you
have no objections to the application, you do not have to attend or be represented.
If you do have objections, it is very important that you attend or be represented at
both the pre-vote hearing (if one is ordered) and any subsequent hearing.
You are entitled to be represented by legal counsel or by any individual authorized
to speak on your behalf.
Hearings are generally conducted at the Board's offices in Vancouver. However, you can
attend the pre-vote hearing (if one is ordered) by telephone by following the instructions set out
in the Notice of Certification Application.
If a further hearing is required and you would prefer that it not be conducted in Vancouver,
you must raise that issue with the Vice-Chair.
Q. The vote has been
ordered, but the Vice-Chair has set a further hearing. What will happen
at that hearing?
A. The Vice-Chair
will set a further adjudcative process to address issues such as whether the applicant union
is a trade union within the meaning of the Code and whether the group of employees applied
for is a unit appropriate for collective bargaining. The Vice-Chair will also use
that hearing to resolve any outstanding questions of threshold and to resolve
The ballots cast at the representation vote will not be counted until all of these issues
Q. Can my objections
be dealt with informally?
A. An officer of the
Board may be in touch with you and the union representatives to attempt to resolve any
issues arising out of the application informally. This may occur before or after the
pre-vote hearing. This process is often successful and may result in the matter
being resolved quickly.
Q. Why is the informal
A. It almost always
saves resources and money, by reducing legal costs and other expenses for all parties involved.
It also provides an opportunity to express general concerns. Nothing discussed in the
informal hearings can be used in the formal hearing which follows. In addition, on the many
occasions when the informal meeting leads to agreement between the employer and the union,
a positive basis has been established for the future collective bargaining relationship.
Q. What happens if
the union is certified?
A. Either you or
the union can serve notice to begin collective bargaining.
Within 10 days of the notice, "good faith" bargaining must begin. For at least 12 months, or until a collective
agreement is reached (whichever is sooner) you are again prohibited from changing wages or
terms or conditions of employment, without written permission from the Labour Relations
Q. What is
bargaining in good faith?
Bargaining in good faith means meeting with the other side, exchanging proposals
for the contents of collective agreement in making a sincere attempt to reach an
agreement. Failure to agree with the other
side's proposals does not, in itself, constitute bad faith. However, a deliberate strategy by either side to
prevent reaching an agreement is bad faith bargaining and contrary to the Labour Relations Code.