The B.C. government has opted to keep secret ballot votes in union certifications, but is moving to make union organizing easier.
Labour Minister Harry Bains introduced amendments to the Labour Relations Code Tuesday that he says will protect employees who are joining a union or are facing a change of employer through contract flipping.
B.C. remains one of a minority of Canadian provinces to require a secret vote to certify a union, rather than the “card check” policy that allows unions to sign up more than 50 per cent of potential members. The changes reduce the time it takes for certification to be determined from 10 days to five business days, and the Labour Relations Board has increased ability to order a certification if it finds evidence of employer misconduct.
Bains said his preference was to move to a card-check system, but B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver was opposed, so he accepted that position, which was also the majority view of his expert panel.
Contract flipping to a new employer has been a feature of senior care facilities for many years, with some employees having to re-apply multiple times for the same job as employers change. The amendments are designed to preserve successorship rights for those employees, and those of security services and bus transportation services. The amendments also extend successorship rights to food services contractors.
The legislation also aims to restrict the ability of one union to “raid” another to sign up its members, as the B.C. Nurses’ Union absorbed licensed practical nurses in 2012.
It adds a provision to restrict raids in the construction industry to the summer, to avoid efforts to convince members to switch unions during the winter when construction activity and membership is low.
The changes also remove the automatic essential services designation for schools. Bains said B.C. was the only province with that provision, and the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2015 that employees have a constitutional right to collective bargaining.