Under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, workers have a
right to seek decertification or representation by a different
union during the last three months of operation of a collective
agreement (the open period). In the construction industry here in
Ontario, most ICI related collective agreements, and all
residential collective agreements in the GTA have a three year term
that expires on April 30th of 2016, and every three years
thereafter. In the last few years an ongoing battle between rival
unions has resulted in multiple 'raids' where one union
seeks to displace another as the bargaining agent of a particular
trade. Construction companies have found these activities to be
disruptive with representatives of one union appearing on jobs and
attempting to convince members of one union to sign cards for
another, thus triggering a raid application.
In a recent piece of proposed legislation, [Bill 146], the
Ontario Government proposes to bring in a number of changes to
several labour related Statutes. One proposal is to reduce this
open period in the construction industry to two months. The
Government wants to reduce the disruption by reducing the length of
time the open period lasts. It is not clear to this author that
this proposed change will have the effect desired. Nothing in the
proposal stops union organizers from commencing their raids prior
to March 1st. They just have to wait until the open period to make
their applications. In any event, even if the amendment passes, the
open period for ICI and residential construction in the GTA will
not be upon us for more than two years. Time will tell if this
amendment has the result intended.
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