Union Employment Relationship

AuthorPaul Wearing
Union Employment Relationship
What You Should Know
If your business becomes unionized, you will face the following:
loss of ability to manage the enterprise according to your values and
loss of ability to recognize and reward individual employees for their
contributions to the enterprise
loss of ability to motivate and encourage excellence through prof‌it-
sharing or a bonus system (such initiatives are permitted only with
union approval)
second-guessing by the union of employee-promotion decisions
limitation of ability, almost to the point of impossibility, to terminate
employment for substandard performance or even to criticize per-
formance or conduct
loss of ability to respond to economic pressures on or to preserve the
viability of your business without the approval of the union
prohibition of individual employment contracts
In Ontario, the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (LRA)1 sets rules for the fol-
unionization of employees (certif‌ication)
negotiation and content of collective agreements
termination of union representation (decertif‌ication)
def‌inition of unfair labour practices (e.g., coercion and intimidation)
termination of employment arbitration
determination of liability for the continuation of existing collective
bargaining relationships after the sale of a business
Rules relating to the unionization of employees in a federally regulated
business are set out in the Canada Labour Code.2
The Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLR B) administers and interprets
the LRA . The Board’s adjudicative function is carried out through hear-
ings presided over by a one-person panel or a three-person panel con-
sisting of a neutral vice-chair, a union representative, and an employer
representative, but more often than not a hearing will be conducted by
a vice-chair sitting alone. The provincial government appoints all Board
members through orders in council. The Board is an administrative tri-
bunal, not a court of record, and this means that there is no transcript of
Board proceedings.
A f‌ield services department staed by lab our relations ocers and
labour relations specialists assists the OLRB in its adj udicative function.
The primary functions of the f‌ield ser vices departme nt are as follows:
to attempt to assist parties to resolve the dispute that brought them
to the Board
to arrange and preside over union certif‌ication and decertif‌ication
to provide conciliation services in appeals under the Employm ent
Standards Act, 2000
to provide conciliation services in applications under the Occupational
Health and Safety Act that allege an employee has been subjected to
reprisals for exercising rights under that Act or its regulations
to provide conciliation services in appeals by employers regarding
orders of health and safety inspectors
A party wishing to engage in proceedings under the LR A must prop-
erly select and prepare one or more forms, of over 177, specif‌ically drafted
by the OLRB for the subject of the party’s dispute or request. Proceedings
before the Board are governed by its Rules of Procedure,3 and Board de-

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