In Vanderpol Eggs Ltd. –and– Teamsters Local
Union 213, BCLRB No. B165/2014, the Teamsters Local Union 213
(the "Union") alleged that Vanderpol Eggs Ltd.
("Vanderpol") had engaged in unfair labour practices
during the Union's campaign to organize Vanderpol's
employees. Specifically, the Union alleged that Vanderpol had
breached sections 6(1) and 6(3)(d) of the Labour Relations
Code, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 244 (the "Code"), which
prohibit an employer from interfering with the formation, selection
or administration of a trade union, and seeking to compel or induce
an employee to refrain from becoming or continuing to be a member
of a union.
The Union's certification campaign commenced when a
Vanderpol employee, Liz Ducsay, began to distribute information
about the Union to other employees. In response, management
immediately issued a letter to employees which contained the
Once again, I want to emphasize that you are free to join or not
join any organization. The law also protects your rights to refrain
from engaging in union activities and you do not have to talk to a
union organizer. You are protected from threats, restraint or
coercion by the union or its agents inside or outside the company.
If you feel you are feeling threatened or forced into something you
do not want, please contact your supervisor ...
Several months later, Ms. Ducsay placed union materials in the
locker room and lunchroom. She was told by the plant manager soon
afterwards that distributing union materials was illegal and she
was not to do it on company time. She was told that if she
continued, she would be disciplined. Undeterred, Ms. Ducsay again
placed union materials in the locker room and lunchroom. Management
removed the materials and replaced them with copies of another
letter. The letter contained the following statements:
Unions often make big promises to try to get workers to sign
membership cards. If they are making promises, ask them to put them
in writing. The reality is they cannot guarantee anything aside
from the fact that you will have to pay union dues. If they were to
be certified, all terms and conditions of employment, including
wages and benefits, would be up for negotiation. There is no
guarantee you would even retain the things you have now ...
The B.C. Labour Relations Board (the "Board") applied
a contextual approach to assess the appropriateness of
Vanderpol's conduct during the Union's organizing campaign.
The Board considered the content of Vanderpol's communications
with its employees, and the cumulative effect of Vanderpol's
conduct on the employees.
The Board confirmed that an employer can express its views on
unionization to its employees during the course of an organizing
drive, so long as it does not do so in a way that is coercive or
intimidating. The employer must do so, in other words, without the
use of force, threats, fear or compulsion for the purpose of
The Board held that Vanderpol's communications with its
employees were not coercive or intimidating. Specifically, it was
permissible for Vanderpol to state that terms and conditions of
employment were not guaranteed and would be the subject of
bargaining, and that unions cannot guarantee everything they
promise. Importantly, Vanderpol had not editorialized on the
Union's promises. Moreover, the interactions between Ms. Ducsay
and the plant manager were not in the nature of coercion or
intimidation because the view expressed by the manager was his
genuine view about the limitations on the activities of trade
unions in the workplace. These communications were protected by
section 8 of the Code.
In the result, the Board dismissed the Union's application
in its entirety.
Takeaway for employers
The Code places limitations on what an employer can say and do
during an organizing campaign. It is crucial to be aware of these
An employer can express its views on unionization to its
employees, so long as this is done without coercion or
Board decisions such as this one provide employers with
concrete examples of what can and cannot be said to employees
during an organizing campaign.
The consequences of engaging in an unfair labour practice can
be severe. Although the Board has a range of remedies available to
it, if the Board is satisfied that a union would have obtained the
requisite support to certify the employees but for an unfair labour
practice, the Board may automatically certify the union without a
Previously printed in the LexisNexis Labour Notes Newsletter
– October, 2015
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