Cancelling a union's bargaining rights

In certain circumstances, the Labour Relations Board can cancel the union’s bargaining rights for a bargaining unit. When an application is filed by employees in the bargaining unit, it is called decertification. A union or employer can also apply to cancel the union's bargaining rights.

Decertification

Employees can apply to cancel a Board order certifying the union as the bargaining agent for a group of employees. Employees can also apply where there is no certification but the union and employer have a collective agreement (called a voluntary recognition). Both are referred to as an application for decertification.

Employees in the bargaining unit may decide they no longer want to be represented by their union. Employees will need to get the support of enough of the other employees in the bargaining unit before making an application to the Board.

Before filing an application, the employees have to:

  • Identify a spokesperson. This is the person the Board will deal with while processing the application.
  • Make sure a minimum of 45% of the employees in the bargaining unit have each signed Form 33A (found on the last page of Form 33 - Employee Application for Revocation of Bargaining Rights (1 MB)) to say they don’t want the union to represent them. These forms must be filed with the decertification application. These forms are confidential to the Board.

If a union is decertified, it is no longer the exclusive bargaining agent for those employees. This means it no longer has the right to represent the employees in their dealings with their employer or to pursue any outstanding grievances on employees’ behalf.

The collective agreement no longer applies to any of the employees in the bargaining unit. An individual’s employment with the employer is now governed by the common law.

If the bargaining unit is decertified, no union can apply for certification to represent employees in the bargaining unit for ten months after the date of decertification.

Generally, employees can apply to decertify their bargaining unit at any time, except during the following time periods:

  • the 12 months after the union was certified
  • the 12 months after an application for decertification is dismissed because there was an unfair labour practice or improper interference and the Board decided not to proceed with or count a vote
  • a time period set by the Board if an application for decertification was unsuccessful

To apply for decertification:

  1. Get at least 45% of the bargaining unit to sign Form 33A (found on the last page of Form 33) 

FORM 33: APPLICATION FOR DECERTIFICATION

  1. Complete the rest of Form 33
  2. Submit the completed Form 33 and signed Forms 33As to the Board by email, mail, or courier
    1. The signed Form 33As must be submitted to the Board within six months of being signed
  3. Arrange to pay the filing fee

Only the Board will see who has signed the Form 33As. The Board will keep the names of the employees who have signed those forms confidential. The Board will also keep the name of the applicant confidential. This information is not shared with the union and employer.

The Board will review the application to make sure:

  • It was filed during the time an application for decertification can be filed, and
  • At least 45% of the bargaining unit have signed forms to say they don’t want the union to represent them

Once the Board confirms the decertification application requirements have been met, the Board will tell the parties—the union, the employer, and the other employees in the bargaining unit—about the application.

Within five business days of the Board accepting the application for filing, the Board will hold a secret ballot vote. The Board will decide how the vote will be held. The Board requires the employer to make sure employees know how and when the vote will be held. The Employer may also be required to provide certain contact information to the Board.

The Board may also hold a hearing. If there are objections to the application or concerns with the vote the Board may seal the ballot box until the issues are dealt with. If the Board dismisses the application, the votes will not be counted.

If 50%+1 of the employees who vote are in favour of decertifying the union, the application is granted. Effective the date of the vote, the bargaining unit will be decertified and the employees will no longer be represented by the union.

Partial decertification

Employees in only a part of a bargaining unit may decide they no longer want to be represented by their union. Employees will need to get the support of enough of the other employees in that group before making an application to the Board. This is called a partial decertification.

The Board may allow a specific group of employees to apply for a partial decertification in some situations. A partial decertification means that a specific group of employees are permitted to leave the bargaining unit and the collective agreement will no longer apply to them. The Board will vary (amend) the union’s certification. The union will continue to represent the remainder of employees in the bargaining unit.

Before filing an application, the employees have to:

  • Identify a spokesperson. This is the person the Board will deal with while processing the application.
  • Make sure a minimum of 45% of the employees in the part of the bargaining unit trying to partially decertify have each signed Form 142A (found on the last page of Form 142(PD): Employee Application for Partial Decertification (700 KB)) to say they don’t want the union to represent them. These forms must be filed with the partial decertification application. These forms are confidential to the Board.

Generally, employees can apply to partially decertify their bargaining unit at any time, except during the following time periods:

  • the 12 months after the union was certified
  • the 12 months after an application for decertification is dismissed because there was an unfair labour practice or improper interference such that the Board concludes that a representation vote is unlikely to disclose the true wishes of the employees
  • a time period set by the Board if an application for partial decertification was unsuccessful

To apply for a partial decertification:

  1. Get at least 45% of the employees in the group proposed for partial decertification to sign form 142A (found on the last page of Form 142 (PD))

FORM 142(PD): Employee Application for Partial Decertification

  1. Complete the rest of Form 142 (PD)
  2. Submit the completed Form 142 (PD) and signed Forms 142As to the Board by email, mail, or courier
    1. The signed Form 142As must be submitted to the Board within six months of being signed
  3. Arrange to pay the filing fee

Only the Board will see who signed form 142A. The Board will keep the names of the employees who have signed the form confidential.  The Board will also keep the name of the applicant confidential. This information is not shared with the union or employer.

Once the Board confirms the application requirements have been met, the Board will tell the parties about the application.

The Board will first confirm that 45% of the employees in the group proposed for partial decertification support the application and the partial decertification application is complete.

The Board will then decide whether to hold a vote of the employees in the group. The Board will consider a number of factors, such as:

  • If the group of employees identified in the application leave the bargaining unit, will the remaining unit continue to be appropriate for bargaining?
  • How  the wishes of the employees in the group impact on the remaining employees in the bargaining unit and the collective bargaining relationship as a whole?
  • Are the parties in collective bargaining at the time of the application? If so, for how long have they been bargaining?
  • Are the parties on strike or locked out at the time of the application?

In considering the above factors, the Board may:

  • dismiss the application without a vote,
  • hold a vote before deciding whether the application is appropriate, or
  • if it decides the application is appropriate and 50+1% of the employees who cast ballots vote in favour, grant the partial decertification.

Where the Board holds a vote, it will require the employer to make sure employees know how and when the vote will be held. The Employer may also be required to provide certain contact information to the Board.

The employer is not allowed to help with an application to partially decertify the union. If they do, the Board may dismiss the application. The decision to partially decertify the union must reflect the true wishes of the employees in the bargaining unit. No one is allowed to intimidate, threaten, or compel a person to be part of or not be part of a union. Learn more about unfair labour practices.

Cancelling bargaining rights

In certain circumstances, a union or employer can apply to cancel a certification. For example, where:

  • the union has abandoned its bargaining rights
  • the union is no longer a trade union as defined by the Code
  • the employer is no longer the employer of the employees in the bargaining unit
  • the employer has gone out of business and it is unlikely they will reopen in the foreseeable future

How to apply to cancel a certification

To file an application, an employer or union needs to:

  1. Complete an application by written submission (i.e. letter)
    1. Make sure the application has the information required as per the Rules
  2. Submit the application to the Board by email, mail, or courier
  3. Serve the other party as required by the Rules
  4. Arrange to pay the filing fee


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This page was last updated: 2021-10-27

Disclaimer: The information on this website is provided for general purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is subject to the Labour Relations Code, the Labour Relations Board Rules, the Labour Relations Regulation and the published decisions of the Board

The Labour Relations Board acknowledges the traditional territories of the many diverse Indigenous Peoples in the geographic area we serve. With gratitude and respect, we acknowledge that the Board’s office is located on the traditional unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.