In a decision issued last month, the Labour Relations Board granted IOUE Local 115 organizers access to an access-controlled employee residence (i.e. a company work camp) for the purpose of organizing employees on the Site C dam project. This was a “raid”, or rather a “liberation”, of the workers from CLAC and the organizing period was time-sensitive. The employer was also ordered to provide union representatives food and lodging and a place to meet with workers during the period of access.
The application was brought under Sections 7(2) and 7(3) the Labour Relations Code. It was opposed by the employer, ATCO and CLAC who all argued that an access order was not necessary as the camp was near Fort St. John and the union could meet the workers there. They also argued that granting the order would provide the union a greater level of access than what is normally available in organizing non-resident employees.
The Board dismissed these objections as follows:
In the present case, I am satisfied that the Union does not enjoy the same access to PRHPC's workers that reside in the Lodge as they do to non-resident workers. While the Lodge is geographically proximate to Fort St. John, there was no evidence led before me to suggest that resident workers leave the Site C Project except at the beginning and end of their shift cycles. I am further satisfied that, unlike the non-resident workers who live within a relatively contained geographic area, the resident workers fly home to different regions when their shift cycle ends. Finally, following the Board's policy in Sidhu & Sons, I am not convinced that granting an access order would put the Union in a greater position with respect to organizing the resident workers than it would in organizing non-resident workers.
Back in November 2015 the Teamsters won the right to represent attendants at the work camp over the objections of ATCO and CLAC: click here for that Board decision or here for an interesting news article on that organizing.
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