By David McDonald
Most Canadian employers are familiar with what they can and can’t do when they’re the target of a union-organizing campaign. Labor legislation across Canada prohibits management from terminating or disciplining employees because of trade union affiliation while a union is attempting to gain representational rights. A recent decision from British Columbia, Playtime Peardonville Ventures Ltd. and USW, Local 2952, warns that those prohibitions may continue in a workplace even months after the employees have voted to get rid of the union.
Union decertified in 2009
The United Steelworkers, Local 2952, had represented the employees at Chances Abbottsford, in British Columbia, since 1997. Chances was a former bingo hall that had been converted into a gaming center. It was clear that some employees weren’t satisfied with the representation they were receiving from the union since employees had unsuccessfully tried to leave the union, or “decertify,” in 2005 and 2008. On their third application, which was filed in July 2009, the employees’ decertification efforts were finally successful and the union’s certification was canceled.
Employees later terminated
By the fall of 2009, Chances was having economic troubles. After reviewing its staffing situation, management decided to reduce the workforce by four people. According to management, the people selected for termination were satisfactory employees, but when compared to others, they were viewed as weaker performers. It terminated the employees in late October 2009.