Just prior to beginning the holiday season themselves, the
Senate of Canada gave federally regulated employers an early gift:
the passing of Bill C-525. The Bill, which received Royal
Assent on December 16, 2014, enacts changes to the Canada
Labour Code, the Parliamentary Employment and Staff
Relations Act and the Public Service Labour Relations
Act. The legislation effects significant changes with
respect to the certification and decertification processes for
federally-regulated employees; for this reason the legislation is
known as the Employees' Voting Rights Act (the
The reason it is described above as a gift to employers is that
the Act changes the representation process on both sides (i.e.
certification of a union and decertification of a union) to make
each one a fairer process than the ones currently in place, often
said to be skewed toward the unions, and therefore unfair to both
employers and employees.
With respect to certification, when the Act comes into force on
June 16, 2015, it will remove the current "card-based"
system under which all three of these pieces of legislation operate
– where a union applies to represent the employees of an
employer and can be certified based solely on the number of people
who signed union cards – and replace it with a right to a
secret-ballot vote. This is similar to the process in many
provinces, including Ontario (excluding the Construction Industry),
and is intended to allow employees to voice their true wishes
without being intimidated by either the union or the
employer. If the majority of employees who vote decide that
they want the union to represent them, the union is certified as
the bargaining agent.
Each of the 3 pieces of legislation affected by the Act have
also always provided a process for the decertification of a
union. However, when the Act comes into force it will
introduce the same procedure for decertification as it will do for
certification, under each of the enabling statutes: namely, a lower
threshold of support (40%) that needs to be demonstrated for a
representation vote to be ordered, which is then conducted by
secret ballot vote.
In short, upon the Act coming into force, neither type of
representation application will any longer be decided on the basis
of cards alone.
In addition, one significant change is noted under the
Canada Labour Code. Currently, the Code
places a restriction on decertification that, except in extreme
cases, effectively prevents a decertification from being granted if
no collective agreement is in place. However, once the Act
comes into force, that restriction will be lifted and the new
decertification process described above will come in to effect,
regardless of whether or not a collective agreement is in
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