Single-step certification will protect right to join a union (

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B.C. Ministry of Labour union certification facts

The legal right to join a union in Canada

  • The freedom to join a union is guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • Section 2(d) of the charter guarantees Canadian people the freedom of association – this includes the right to organize as workers for the purposes of collective bargaining.

In B.C., the Labour Relations Board (LRB) is the certification authority

  • The LRB is an independent administrative tribunal responsible for resolving issues that arise under the Labour Relations Code (LRC).
  • LRB roles include adjudicating applications for union certification, managing the process and ruling on allegations of unfair practices.
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2019 Labour Relations Code Review Panel recommendations on B.C.’s certification process

  • In 2018 the Ministry of Labour appointed a panel of special advisers to review the LRC and to make recommendations that ensure B.C.’s unionized workplaces are supported by fair laws.
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  • The 2018 report noted concerns with employer interference in the certification process. 
  • The panel of special advisers concluded that the current certification-vote process can be effective for employee choice only if the LRC properly prevents employer interference.
  • One of the panel’s recommendations was to shorten the time between the signing of membership cards and the certification vote.
  • Changes were made to the LRC in 2019 through Bill 30, including reducing the time from application to vote from 10 calendar days to five business days.
  • The panel recommended that single-step certification could be considered if the changes made through Bill 30 do not effectively eliminate interference.
  • Despite the 2019 changes, employer interference and unfair labour practices have continued.

Examples of conduct that would be considered unfair practices by the LRB

  • Threats to close a workplace if a union is certified
  • Threats to fire employees involved in the certification process
  • Requiring employees to disclose their position on potential certification
  • Encouraging employees to support alternatives to unionizing
  • Holding mandatory meetings to influence employees’ decisions on voting to join a union

Examples of unfair practices that have occurred under the current two-step certification process

  • An electrical contractor improperly interfered with their workers’ attempt to certify their workplace by threatening to lay off employees.
  • A waste-management company improperly fired an experienced worker with a good performance record for participating in an attempted certification effort in the workplace.
  • A food-processing company improperly fired two workers for attempting to certify their workplace.