The Labour Relations Board engages in informal dispute resolution and fact-finding to support the parties and address issues that come up in an application. These processes encourage and support the union and employer (the parties) to cooperate and reach an outcome they can each live with or narrow the issues that need to be resolved. They also provide a faster and more cost-effective process for resolving a dispute than a formal hearing process.
Most informal dispute resolution and fact-finding processes are done by the Board’s Special Investigating Officers (SIOs).
Informal dispute resolution
After the Board receives an application, it often encourages the parties to try to reach a settlement. Settlement discussions are non-binding and intended to explore options for resolving some or all of the issues in dispute. This type of process is called informal dispute resolution.
Informal dispute resolution can happen at any stage of the process for dealing with an application. This process can be conducted by a vice-chair, a mediator, the Registrar, Deputy Registrar, or Associate Chair or the Chair. However, the Board’s SIOs are most often the ones helping the parties resolve their differences.
The SIOs deal with a wide range of issues, including:
- differences that come up during a certification or decertification process, such as:
- unfair labour practices
- strikes, lockouts, and picketing
- essential services
- any other proceeding before the Board
SIOs have a very high rate of success in helping the parties reach an agreement due to their expertise. They bring a well-informed, problem-solving approach and have a strong understanding of the Labour Relations Code and the Board’s case law, policies, and procedures. SIOs also act as settlement officers with the Collective Agreement Arbitration Bureau to assist in informal dispute resolution of grievances.
SIOs can also engage in fact-finding or issue reports that help to narrow issues that come up in applications filed with the Board, including:
- certification or decertification applications
- whether essential services are a factor in a labour dispute
- when the Board feels it will help clarify matters in dispute