On October 14, 2020, the Manitoba government introduced a number of bills; among them is Bill 16: The Labour Relations Amendment Act.
Bill 16 proposes some significant changes to The Labour Relations Act of Manitoba, as outlined in this blog.
- Employers would no longer be required to establish that a striking employee's strike-related misconduct resulted in a criminal conviction in order to terminate the employee's employment for that misconduct.
- Currently, when faced with an application for certification by a union (and absent other factors such as an unfair labour practice), the Manitoba Labour Board (the "Board") must be satisfied that 40% of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit wish to have the union represent them before it will hold a certification vote among employees in the proposed bargaining unit. Bill 16 would require the Board, in determining whether the 40% threshold exists, to consider whether the number of employees in the proposed bargaining unit at the time that the certification application is received represents the regular or anticipated number of employees that are required to perform the work of the unit. If the Board determines that the number is not representative, the Board would be able to either delay the vote or dismiss the certification application.
- Currently, where one union is the bargaining agent for employees in a bargaining unit and another union applies to the Board to displace the first union as the bargaining agent for that bargaining unit (i.e., a displacement application), if the Board is satisfied that 45% or more of the employees in the bargaining unit wish to have the applicant union represent them, it must conduct a vote among those employees. Bill 16 would reduce that required support for the applicant union to 40% of employees.
- Currently, an employee has the ability (during certain periods of time) to make an application to the Board to decertify a union that represents them. If the Board is satisfied that 50% or more of the employees in the bargaining unit support the application, it will hold a vote among employees in the bargaining unit to determine whether or not the union will continue to represent them. Bill 16 would reduce the required support for the application to 40%.
- Unions or employers would have the ability, at any time except during the last three months of the term of a collective agreement, to apply to the Board for a determination that a bargaining unit is no longer appropriate for collective bargaining. The Board would then have the ability to: 1) confirm whether the bargaining unit is appropriate; 2) include or exclude employees or classes of employees from the bargaining unit; or 3) create one or more bargaining units more appropriate for bargaining.
- Currently, when an employer sells its business to another employer, the employer to whom the business is sold acquires the rights, privileges and obligations of the predecessor employer (for example, the union which was the bargaining agent for the employees of the predecessor employer continues to be the bargaining agent for those employees). Bill 16 would give the Board the ability, upon an application by either an affected union or the successor employer, to terminate or limit the rights, privileges or obligations acquired by the successor employer if the Board is satisfied that the character of the business is now substantially different from the business of the predecessor employer.
- Currently, an employer bound by a collective agreement must provide the union 90 days' notice if it proposes to implement a technological change which would affect the terms and conditions or employment security of a significant number of employees in the bargaining unit represented by the union, or if it would significantly alter the basis upon which the collective agreement was negotiated. Bill 16 would remove that notice requirement.
- Currently, the Board has the power, upon application by either an employer or a union, to settle the provisions of the first collective agreement between the parties (either through the Board itself or an arbitrator) if the parties are unable to do so. Bill 16 would obligate the Board, before so settling, to determine whether the party who made the application has bargained in good faith. If the Board determines that the party has not bargained in good faith, the application for the Board to settle the provisions of the first collective agreement would be terminated. This is similar to the requirement that currently exists in relation to the settlement of subsequent collective agreements.
- Currently, the Board has the power, upon application by either an employer or a union, to settle the provisions of a subsequent collective agreement between the parties (either through the Board itself or an arbitrator) whether the employees have been on strike or locked out for at least 60 days, and the parties have attempted to conclude the subsequent collective agreement with the assistance of a conciliation officer or mediator for at least 30 days during the strike or lockout but have been unable to do so. Bill 16 would remove the provisions allowing for the settlement of subsequent collective agreements.
- The Board would be prohibited from disclosing to any party the names of any of the signatories in support of an application for certification, decertification or termination of bargaining rights.
- The Board would have the ability to make an order for costs against any party whose request, application or complaint has been determined by the Board to be without merit.
- The Board's power to conduct any required votes by telephone or electronically would be confirmed.
- Employers would be prohibited from paying wages or otherwise compensating an employee who takes a full-time leave from their employment to hold an executive position in a public sector union. This prohibition would only apply in respect of collective agreements entered into on or after the day that these changes take effect.
- Public sector bargaining agents would be required to have their financial statements audited by an independent auditor and to provide copies of the audited financial statements to its members. In addition, public sector unions would be required to provide their members with compensation information for all employees of the union earning more than $75,000 annually.
The above proposed amendments are before the Manitoba Legislature. Bill 16 is not yet passed or in force. MLT Aikins LLP will continue to monitor the status of Bill 16. Employers considering the impact of the proposed Labour Relations Amendment Act should contact a member of our labour and employment team.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.