Many employers in Ontario that engage in construction work only
for their own needs and benefit work very well together with the
construction trade unions that represent their construction
employees. However, Ontario's "non-construction
employers" should be aware that the Labour Relations Act,
1995 (the "LRA") offers them the opportunity to
apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (the "OLRB")
for a declaration that they are not subject to unionization by
construction trade unions.
For example, a municipality may only construct picnic shelters,
playground equipment, etc. in local parks. A school board may only
renovate and repair school buildings. A retailer of consumer goods
may only build, renovate or expand the retailer's own stores.
Such employers, who do no work in the construction industry for
which they expect compensation from an unrelated person, constitute
"non-construction employers" for the purposes of the
A non-construction employer is entitled, on application to the
OLRB, to a declaration that a trade union no longer represents the
employer's construction employees. When such a declaration is
granted, the trade union's collective agreement immediately
ceases to apply. Similarly, if a trade union applies to the OLRB
for the right to represent a non-construction employer's
construction employees, the application will be dismissed.
The key, in either case, is for the employer to meet the
definition of "non-construction employer" as set out in
the LRA. According to the OLRB, if the employer performs work in
the construction industry, these are the questions to be
Is the construction work part of, or necessary for, the
business of an unrelated third party?
If so, does the employer expect to receive compensation that is
in exchange for the construction work?
If both answers are "yes", then the employer is
not a non-construction employer. Thus, for example, a
retailer of consumer goods that performs construction work in
facilities that its licensees occupy and that "charges
back" the licensees for that work is not a
non-construction employer. In contrast, a retailer that performs
construction work solely on the retailer's own facilities
is a non-construction employer.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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