Attention Employers: It May Become Easier for Your Employees to Unionize

Currently in British Columbia there is a two-step process to certify a bargaining unit. A union must first get 45% of workers at a job site to sign membership cards, and once that threshold is reached, workers must then restate their preference for a union through an additional vote. Because employees can often be pressured into signing union cards, without full understanding of the potential consequences of unionization, the current two-step system in British Columbia (which exists in most provinces) helps ensure that union certifications are based on the actual wishes of employees.

However, on April 6, 2022 (with a second reading on May 5), the Provincial NDP government introduced, Bill 10, the Labour Relations Code Amendment Act, 2022,  which proposes labour friendly changes to the Labour Relations Code. Among other changes, the Bill introduces a single-step (“card-check”) union certification system:

  • If 55% or more of employees in a workplace indicate their intent to unionize by signing union membership cards, a union will be certified, and no further vote is required.
  • If between 45% and 55% of employees sign union membership cards, a second step consisting of a secret ballot vote is still required for certification.

If the Bill is passed into law, in some scenarios, the second step of an additional secret vote will be eliminated. Therefore, employers can expect union campaigns to ramp up in the province, especially in sectors that have traditionally been harder to unionize.

Employers who feel at risk of unionization should seek legal advice.

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