Member complaint against CLAC must proceed to hearing, LRB rules

The Christian Labour Association (CLAC), Local 66, suffered a setback at the Labour Relations Board earlier this month.  CLAC claims to be a trade union but is not recognized to be a legitimate workers’ organization by anyone within the labour movement.  A recent decision by the LRB illustrates some of the reasons why this is so.

In a decision issued June 16, 2016, Re Clark Reefer Lines Ltd,  a reconsideration panel of the Labour Relations Board headed by Board Chair Brent Mullin directed that the Board hold a hearing into the merits of a complaint by a member of the Christian Labourer’s Association of Canada (CLAC) Local 66 that the union had violated its duty of fair representation when it failed to represent him in his termination.

 The worker alleged that when he was hired he was never told who the union was; he was not given a collective agreement and when dues were deducted there was no indication as to which union they were being forwarded.  

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Can my boss monitor my online activity?

When was the last time you went offline…truly offline? I’m talking about actually turning off your phones, computers, tablets, laptops, Fitbits, Apple Watches, or any of the many other ways we connect electronically. 

Now, do you ever use work devices for personal reasons? Do you occasionally check Facebook, plan your next vacation, maybe do a bit of banking or search Cuteoverload for stress-relieving kitten GIF’s? (No judgement.) 

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Labour Board dismisses raid of health unions by BC Nurses

In a decision issued on April 11, 2016, the raiding activities of the BC Nurses suffered a set-back. About 5 years ago, the then British Columbia Nurses Union was expelled from the Canadian Labour Congress and the BC Federation of Labour for its raiding campaigns against other health unions in the province. This came on the heels of BCN’s successful application at the Labour Relations Board to raid some 6500 licensed practical nurses from their traditional unions, the Hospital Employee’s Union and the BCGEU. 

Unfortunately, the ultimate sanction of expulsion from the central labour body has not dissuaded the BCN from its raiding activities. Its latest efforts have been aimed at signing up psychologists and psychometrists who are members of the Health Sciences Association or the Professional Employees Association. BCN applied to the Labour Relations Board to be certified as their representative in late 2015.

Let’s hope that with this setback, the leadership of the BCN will decide to redirect their efforts and resources towards advocating for better healthcare and better working conditions for their members and all healthcare workers, rather than attacking other unions. And let’s hope that nurses themselves will call upon their leadership to do just that. 

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Are your members doing too much under essential services orders?

Each time the Supreme Court of Canada issues a new ruling, it takes some time for the effects to ripple out through tribunals and courts across the country. One change we're still waiting to see here in BC after the 2015 SFL decision is a restriction on the amount and type of work performed by essential service workers pursuant to the BC LRB's standard Global Order.

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Supreme Court Rulings Squeeze Utility Workers

Once every decade or so, the Supreme Court of Canada issues a decision in the field of utility regulation. These are invariably landmark cases that have a huge impact on the regulation of energy and other utilities across the country, and the tens of billions of dollars that these public and private companies collect from Canadian customers each year. These decisions are very important not only for the companies and their customers, but also for their employees.

Two Supreme Court rulings released today are about utility workers’ pay and benefits.  One was about compensation costs in the collective agreement covering Ontario nuclear plant employees, and the other was about pension cost-of-living adjustments at ATCO, a large private utility in Alberta. 

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Damages awarded against employer who uses replacement workers

In the course of its four-month-long lockout of CUPE Local 7000 members, Southern Railway kept a fraction of its trains running by using excluded managers as replacement workers. But a railway can’t run unless its track is maintained. Track maintenance is work that CUPE members do and not many managers are qualified to operate the machinery that’s involved. On January 23, 2015 Southern Rail brought in a contractor, A&B Rail Services, to replace a number of railway ties at a switch area on Annacis Island.

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Right to Strike Protected by the Charter

Today the Supreme Court of Canada issued the decision in the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour case on the right to strike---and yes, it is constitutionally protected.
The case can be found at the SCC website at

My favourite quote from the majority 7 to 2 decision written by Madam Justice Abella is this:

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No discrimination on the basis of family status

I had occasion to participate on a panel at the Bargaining in the Broader Public Sector 2014 Conference organized by Lancaster House. The panel, “What’s on the Bargaining Table: Emerging Issues, Creative Solutions”, canvassed a number of topics including pensions, health and welfare benefits and work-life balance. The obligation to accommodate employees on the basis of family status came up under the topic of work-life balance. The leading case in British Columbia is Health Sciences Association v.Campbell River and North Island Transition Society available on Canlii at:

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Supreme Court confirms union’s right to employee contact information

A few days ago, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down a decision confirming a union’s right to personal contact information about the people it represents, in Bernard v. AG of Canada and PIPSC

Under federal legislation, Elizabeth Bernard was able to opt out of membership in the union representing her government service bargaining unit, but she retained the obligation to pay union dues. She was what is called a “Rand formula” employee – union membership is optional, but the union has a duty to represent all the workers, and has the right to collect their dues in return.

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Disclipline Investigation – when the police are also involved

Some of the trickiest situations unions face when representing members facing disciplinary investigations by their employers arise where the same activity has attracted the attention of the police.  That is because the rules surrounding police investigations and workplace investigations are incompatible.

One of our most fundamental democratic rights, enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is freedom from self-incrimination

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Essential Services and The FortisBC Inc. Lockout of IBEW 213

British Columbia deals with essential service labour disputes differently from most jurisdictions.  Rather than the familiar game of industrial “chicken” (where unions press their strike actions as far as they can before government intervenes with back-to-work orders and lopsided arbitration) we have a “controlled strike” mechanism.  The Labour Relations Board designates specified levels of services and staffing as essential;  the parties are free to strike or lock out so long as the designations are maintained.

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Busters' tow truck drivers--owner operators and their employees in the same bargaining unit

If your car has ever been towed in Vancouver,  because it was parked illegally for example, you will undoubtedly have come into contact with Busters Towing.


And if you're like me you will have wondered whether these folks are unionized.  Well it now turns out that they may soon be.


In a decision handed down on April 23, 2013 Busters v. Teamsters Local 31, Associate Chair Matacheski, rejected the first of a number of employer preliminary objections to the application for certification.

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