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Relying on Union Security Clause not Unfair Labour Practice

Sibola Mountain Falling Ltd. (Re), [2015] B.C.L.R.B.D. No. 145

Sibola Mountain Falling (“Sibola”) filed a complaint alleging the Union used coercion and intimidation contrary to Section 9 of the Labour Relations Code (the “Code”) by threatening to place a woodworkers’ lien on its wood if the Union did not receive an answer about unionizing.

Sandra Banister QC successfully argued that Sibola had failed to disclose a breach of the Code and the Employer’s complaint was dismissed.

The Union and Western Forest Products Ltd. (“Western Forest Products”) are parties to a collective agreement which prevents contracting out to non-union contractors. Consistent with its collective agreement with Western Forest Products, the Union required Sibola to be a Union contractor and party to the collective agreement.

Vice Chair Terai applied the principles set out in R.M. Hardy concluding that a union security arrangement is not equivalent to illegal coercion under the code.

Union security clauses which prevent contracting out while they seemingly restrict contractor employees’ choice (ie. Unionize or risk losing your contract) are analogous to the typical closed shop arrangement. They allow workers in industries like construction and forestry to maintain their rights to access the labour relations scheme of the Code.

The Board held the Union did not use coercion or intimidation as required to show a breach of Section 9 of the Code.

Section 9 BC Labour Relations Code:
A person must not use coercion or intimidation of any kind that could reasonably have the effect of compelling or inducing a person to become or to refrain from becoming or to continue or cease to be a member of a trade union.