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16 reasons why Alberta trade unions are celebrating the Fair And Family-Friendly Workplaces Act

Topics: - Top 10 Lists
Jurisdiction: - Alberta

Alberta tabled the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act on May 24, 2017. See my post on this proposed legislation here: "Recap of changes proposed by Alberta to modernize workplace legislation".

A lawyer at McLennan Ross LLP in Edmonton, Hugh J.D. McPhail, Q.C., has written an article listing out "16 Reasons Why Alberta Trade Unions Are Celebrating The Fair And Family-Friendly Workplaces Act."

In his words, these are the 16 reasons why unions are celebrating this bill: 

  1. If they can persuade 65% of employees to sign union membership cards (by hook or by crook), they can become the certified bargaining agent, avoiding the messy consequences arising from employees having sober second thoughts. They can also become certified if they happen to catch an employer at a time when 65% of its bargaining unit employees are members in good standing of a union even though that could have been mandated through prior employment and had nothing to do with their wishes for unionization of their current employer. There will be no more mandated secret ballot votes in those cases. This is NOT mainstream in Canada with only Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia (for construction only), New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island allowing card-check certifications. Newfoundland and Labrador had a provision like this for a brief time from 2012 to 2014, but got rid of it in favour of democracy. Card based certification is also contrary to the opinion of the International Labour Organization Committee of Experts which speaks of employee votes on these issues of exclusive representation.
  2. They can now launch unionization campaigns against employers that last 6 months, not just 90 days. Applications for membership and petition signatures will be valid for 6 months now - lots of time for employees to change their minds, but no secret ballot vote in many cases to communicate that.
  3. They can be content that revocation applications will only happen after a secret ballot vote.
  4. They are going to be able to get access orders allowing them access to private property and remote locations in order to try to unionize employees there. They will also be able to get access orders to meet with employees they represent.
  5. They are going to be able to gain certifications to represent farm and ranch workers. Some form of union recognition was mandated by recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions, but NOT full-blown Labour Relations Code collective bargaining rights as in this Bill.

The rest of the article and the 16 reasons can be found here.