Canada: Labour Law - Alberta

Last Updated: December 19 2014
Practice Guide by Blaney McMurtry LLP
ALBERTA Labour Relations Code, RSA 2000, c L-1, s 12
Certification/De-certification Certification:
A trade union may apply to the Board to be certified as the bargaining agent for the employees in a unit 32

Before granting an application, the Board must be satisfied that: (a) the applicant is a trade union, (b) the application is timely, (c) the unit applied for is an appropriate unit for collective bargaining, (d) the employees in the unit the Board considers an appropriate unit have voted, at a representation vote conducted by the Board, to select the trade union as their bargaining agent, and that the application is not barred by section 38 34(1)

Board must be satisfied that at the time of application the union had the support at least 40% of the members of the unit 34(2)

A trade union shall not be certified as a bargaining agent if its administration, management or policy is, in the opinion of the Board, (a) dominated by an employer or (b) influenced by an employer so that the trade union's fitness to represent employees for the purposes of collective bargaining is impaired 38(1)

A trade union shall not be certified as a bargaining agent if, in the opinion of the Board, picketing of the place of employment of the employees affected, or elsewhere, directly resulted in (a) employees becoming members of the trade union, (b) employees applying for membership in the trade union, or (c) employees indicating in writing their selection of the trade union to be the bargaining agent on their behalf 38(2)

De-certification ("Revocation of bargaining rights"):
An application to revoke bargaining rights may be made by the trade union, the employees within the unit, or the employer or former employer to whom the rights relate 51(1)

If the application is made by the employees in the unit, the Board must be satisfied that at least 40% of the employees have indicated their support for revocation 51(2)

No application for revocation of bargaining rights may be made without the Board's consent while a lawful strike or lawful lockout is in effect 52(1)

Before granting an application for revocation, the Board must be satisfied that: (a) the application is timely, (b) where either the employer or employees bring the application, that a representation vote was taken by the board in favour of revocation, and (c) in the case of a former employer, that the bargaining agent has abandoned its bargaining rights or there has been no employees in the unit represented by the trade union for a period of at least 3 years 53(1)
  • The Board may at any time give notice of its intention to revoke the bargaining rights of a trade union to the trade union and the employer or employers' organization affected by the proposed revocation 55(1)
Collective Bargaining Rules Where a certified bargaining agent, an employer or an employers' organization wishes to commence collective bargaining they must serve the other party with notice to commence collective bargaining 59(1)

When a collective agreement is in effect, either party to the agreement may serve notice, however it must be between 60-120 days preceding the expiry of the term of the agreement 59(2)

Once notice has been served, the parties have not more than 30 days to (a) meet and commence to bargain collectively in good faith, and (b) make every reasonable effort to enter into a collective agreement 60(1)

Parties shall exchange bargaining proposals within 15 days of the first time they meet or within any longer time agreed on by the parties 60(2)

Either parties may, at any time after the exchange of proposals, apply to the Board to conduct a vote as to the acceptance or rejection of its most recent offer presented to the other party 69(1)

Each party is entitled to apply for a vote or poll only once during each dispute 69(3)
Dispute Resolution in Collective Agreements Voluntary Arbitration:
The parties to a dispute may agree to refer the matters in dispute to a one or 3-member voluntary arbitration board, whose decision will be binding 93(1)

If the voluntary arbitration board cannot effect a settlement within 20 days, it shall make an award dealing with all matters in dispute 95(1)

The award of the voluntary arbitration board shall be binding on the parties and shall be included in the terms of a collective agreement 95(2)

Disputes Inquiry Board:
Minister may appoint a disputes inquiry board with respect to a dispute 105(1)

If a disputes inquiry board is unable to effect a settlement within 20 days or such longer period as the parties agree, the disputes inquiry board shall make recommendations with respect to each matter in dispute and send them to the Minister, who will notify each of the parties 106(1)

If the parties accept the recommendations, the recommendations are binding and shall be included in the terms of a collective agreement 107(1)

Unless the parties notify the Minister of acceptance of the recommendations within 10 days, a vote will be conducted and if the majority of the employees or employers who vote and the other party are in favour of the recommendations, the recommendations are binding on the parties and shall be included in the terms of a collective agreement 107(4)

If either party neglects or refuses to participated in the preparation of a collective agreement based on the recommendation and as outlined in section 107, then the other party may prepare a collective agreement, giving effect to the recommendations, and submit it to the disputes inquiry board 108(1)

If the board agrees that it gives effect to its recommendations, the board shall certify the collective agreement and the collective agreement shall be binding on all the parties 108(2)
Conciliation Mediation:
Either of the parties to collective bargaining may, any time after service of notice, request the Director to provide the services of a mediator to informally assist in the negotiation process 64

Minister may also require that the Director appoint a mediator 65(1)

Mediator shall, in any manner that he considers fit, inquire into the dispute and endeavour to effect a settlement 65(3)

During the inquiry the mediator shall: (a) hear nay representations made by either of the parties, (b) mediate between the parties, and (c) encourage the parties to the dispute to effect a settlement 65(4)

If no settlement is made within 14 days of the later of (a) the appointment of the mediator, or (b) in the event of a vote conducted on an offer under section 67, the date the parties are notified of the results of the vote, the mediator shall (c) recommend terms for settlement for the parties to either accept or reject, or (d) notify the parties that it does not intend to make a recommendation 65(5)

A 14 day cooling off period shall follow the latest of (a) notification by the mediator to the parties that he does not intend to recommend a settlement, (b) the date fixed by the mediator for acceptance or rejection of the recommendations, and (c) if a vote is requested under section 65, the date on which the parties are notified of the results 65(6)

If the parties accept the terms of the mediator, the terms shall become binding on the parties and shall be included in the terms of a collective agreement 66(1)

If one party accepts the mediator's recommendations, the party may request the Board to conduct a vote on the acceptance or rejection of the recommendations by the other party 66(3)
Strike / Lock-out Procedures No parties shall strike or cause a strike or threaten to strike unless that strike is permitted by the Act 71

73
A party is entitled to strike or cause a strike if:
  • No collective agreement is in place
  • A strike vote was held that (a) remains current, (b) for which results were filed with the Board, and (c) that resulted in a majority in favour of a strike
  • Strike notice is given in accordance with this Act
  • The strike commences on the day and at the time and location specified in the strike notice
  • Where a disputes inquiry board has been established before a strike, the time limits referred to in section 103(3) have expired
No parties shall lock out or cause a lockout or threaten to lock out or to cause a lockout unless that lockout is permitted by the Act 72

74
A party is entitled to lockout if:
  • No collective agreement is in force
  • A lockout vote was held that (a) remains current, (b) for which results were filed with the Board, and (c) that resulted in a majority in favour of a lockout
  • Lockout notice is given in accordance with this act
  • The lockout commences on the day and at the time and location specified in the lockout notice
  • In a case where a disputes inquiry board is established before the lockout, the time limits referred to in section 103(3) have expired
Parties may apply to the Board to supervise a strike or lockout vote 75; however no strike or lockout vote will be supervised where a collective agreement is in force or until a mediator has been appointed and the cooling-off period has expired 75
Unfair Labour Practices Where a trade union has applied for certification, no employer affected by the application shall alter the rates of pay, any term or condition of employment or any right or privilege of any of those employees during the time between the date of the application and its eventual refusal or 30 days after certification 147(1)

Where notice to commence collective bargaining has been served, no employer shall alter the rates of pay, a term or condition of employment or any right or privilege of any employee represented by the bargaining agent or the bargaining agent itself until 60 days after the date on which notice is served 147(2)

Prohibited by Employer

No employer or employer's organization shall:
  • Refuse to employ or continue to employ any person or discriminate against any person because the person: is a member or applicant of a trade union, has indicated a trade union to be the bargaining agent on the person's behalf, has been expelled or suspended from membership in a trade union for a reason other than not paying mandatory dues and fees, has testified or participated in a labour proceeding, has made or is about to make disclosure required in a labour proceeding, has made an application or filed a labour complaint, has participated in any strike, or has exercised any right conferred by this Act 149(a)
  • Impose any condition in a contract of employment that restrains an employee from exercising any right conferred by this Act 149(b)
  • Seek by intimidation, dismissal, threat of dismissal or any other threat to compel an employee to refrain from becoming or cease to be a member of a trade union 149(c)
  • Suspend, discharge or impose any penalty on an employee by reason of that employee's refusal to perform anything prohibited by this Act 149(d)
  • Bargain collectively with a trade union if that employer knows or in the opinion of the Board ought to know, that another trade union is the bargaining agent for that unit 149(e)
  • Suspend, discharge or impose any penalty by reason of that employee's refusal to perform all or some of the duties of another employee who is participating in a strike that is permitted 149(f)
  • Discriminate against a person, or intimidate or threaten a person because the person has (i) testified or participated in a labour proceeding under this Act, (ii) made or is about to make disclosure in connection with a proceeding, and (iii) has made an application or filed a complaint under this Act 149(g)
Prohibited by Trade Union

No trade union shall:
  • Seek to compel an employer to bargain collectively if the trade union is not the proper bargaining agent for the bargaining unit 151(a)
  • Bargain collectively or enter into a collective agreement with an employer or employer's organization if it knows, or in the opinion of the Board ought to know, that another trade union is the bargaining agent for that unit of employees 151(b)
  • Participate or interfere with the formation or administration of an employers' organization 151(c)
  • Except with employer consent, attempt, at an employee's place of employment during working hours, to persuade the employee to become, to refrain from becoming or to cease to be a member of a trade union 151(d)
  • Authorize, encourage or consent to a refusal by any employee in a unit in respect of which the trade union is the bargaining agent to perform work for the employee's employer for the reason that other work was or will be or was or will not be performed by any persons who were or are not members of a trade union or a particular trade union 151(e)
  • Use coercion, intimidation, threat, promises or undue influence on any employee with a view to encouraging or discouraging membership or activity in or for a trade union 151(f)
  • Require an employer to terminate the employment of an employee because that employee has been expelled from the trade union for any reason other than a failure to pay the periodic dues, assessments and initiation fees uniformly required to be paid by all members of the trade union as a condition of acquiring or retaining membership in the trade union 151(g)
  • Expel or suspend a person from membership in the trade union or impose any penalty on a person for having refused to perform an act contrary to the Act 151(h)
  • Expel or suspend a person from membership in the trade union or impose any penalty on a person for (i) engaging in employment in accordance with the terms of a collective agreement, or (ii) engaging in employment who is not a party to a collective agreement with that trade union if the trade union fails to make reasonable alternate employment available, unless the trade union and person are participating in a permitted strike 151(i)
Statutory Tribunal Labour Relations Board

Powers:


12(2) The Board may:
  • Receive applications, reference and complaints
  • Conduct any inquiries or investigations that it considers necessary
  • Conduct any hearings that it considers necessary
  • Require, conduct or supervise votes only by secret ballot
  • Make or issue any interim orders, decisions or declarations it considers necessary pending the final determination of any matter before the Board
  • Make or issue any orders, decisions, notices, directives, declarations or certificates it considers necessary
  • Make rules of procedure, rules for giving notice, rules for service of fees, and for any other matter within its jurisdiction
  • Undertake efforts to assist parties to a proceeding to settle the matter
  • Award costs as it sees fit
12(3) The Board may decide whether:
  • A person is an employer
  • A person is an employee
  • An organization or association is an employers' organization
  • An organization of employees is a trade union
  • An employer has given an employers' organization authority to bargain collectively
  • A collective agreement has been entered into
  • A person is bound by a collective agreement
  • A person is a party to a collective agreement
  • A collective agreement is in effect
  • A group of employees is a unit appropriate for collective bargaining
  • A person is included or excluded from a unit
  • A strike is lawful
  • A lockout is lawful
This document is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should not act or rely on any information in this document without first seeking legal advice. This material is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have any specific questions on any legal matter, you should consult a professional legal services provider.

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