Unionized employees are angry. Not at their employers and not always at their unions, but at their plight. A plight which has led to the blinding realization that they have far fewer rights than ever before.The pandemic has driven that home with intensifying ferocity.
Unionized employees have no right to claim wrongful dismissal or constructive dismissal. If they are ultimately terminated, their severance is governed by the minimal provisions of employment standards legislation, a fraction of what a court would provide. Some unions negotiate greater severance but few in this country negotiate anything approximating what their members would have been entitled to if they had not been unionized.
In Canada, even if they have a perfectly legal case, the union may decide not to take it, if the union refuses to take a “good” case, the employee still cannot hire a lawyer or otherwise take the case forward themselves either to an arbitrator or to the courts.
Howard Levitt has been involved in about 30 cases of union decertifications, probably more than any other lawyer in Canada, sometimes on behalf of employees, but usually on behalf of the employer. Many management labour lawyers actually discourage decertifications because they end a lifetime stream of revenue for that lawyer, in future arbitration and labour negotiation fees. Those lawyers plead that it’s too difficult to accomplish, but it’s not. This webinar will give a guide to employees on how to decertify.
The first and most important point to note is that decertification must be initiated by the represented employees, not by the employer. If there is evidence that the employer initiated or facilitated a decertification application, that application will fail. Employers can only direct employees to contact a lawyer and only if employee asks for help in the decertification process. That lawyer will direct the employees from that point forward, avoiding any suggestion of management involvement.
Once armed with what to do, the employees must circulate a petition among coworkers. That petition must be circulated by a member of the bargaining unit in question and cannot be by someone who is managerial or, say, the owner’s nephew, to avoid the argument of management involvement in its initiation or circulation. To avoid any inference that management is tacitly supporting it, that petition must be circulated outside of working hours and not on company property.
It is similar, in that respect, to union organizing drives which are conducted away from the property to avoid employer detection. Federally regulated employees in Canada can decertify in the last three months of the collective agreement and provincially regulated employees in Ontario, in its last two months.
There are things that the employer can do legally to facilitate union decertification, such as treating their people well so that they trust that there will be no risk to no longer having the union’s “protection,”.
Many argue that it is nearly impossible to decertify. That simply is not true. Indeed, that is a myth perpetrated by unions and others delighted with the status quo.
There are thousands of labour unions throughout North America. Management and labour relations are continuing to evolve and there is contsant strife between employers, workers and unions.
There are over 20 million workers in Canada and the United States who are members of labour unions, and in Canada over 70 % of public workers are part of a union.
Howard Levitt will speak from his vast knowledge of all parties and his personal experience representing both employers and employees.
Employers and human resource managers need to understand the challenges which come with unionized employees, and this webinar will help to alleviate many of those challenges by listening to the how one of North America’s top employment and labour lawyers has helped others with similar challenges.