Trade Union Act (Part II)

Every open shop contractor should understand Part II of the Nova Scotia Trade Union Act, which deals specifically with Construction Industry Labour Relations. The Act states:

“95 (1) A trade union or a council of trade unions claiming to have as members in good standing not less than thirty-five per cent of the employees of one or more employers in the construction industry in a unit appropriate for collective bargaining may, subject to the rules of the Board and in accordance with Sections 23 and 24, make application to the Board to be certified as bargaining agent of the employees in the unit.”

This simply means that on any given day, if 35 per cent or more of the employees on a job site are unionized, the union has the legal authority to submit an application to the Nova Scotia Labour Board to certify your company. Most contractors receive notification in the mail that their company is subject to a future vote or has been certified.

Section 95 (3) of the Act is critical for all open shop contractors. It states:

(3) When, pursuant to an application for certification under this Part by a trade union or council of trade unions, the Board has determined the unit appropriate for collective bargaining and consistent with a geographic area established by the Board,

(a) if the Board is satisfied that the applicant trade union or council of trade unions has as members in good standing less than thirty-five per cent of the employees in the appropriate unit the Panel [Board] shall dismiss the application;

(b) if the Board is satisfied that the applicant trade union or council of trade unions has as members in good standing more than fifty per cent of the employees in the appropriate unit the Board may certify the trade union or council of trade unions as the bargaining agent of the employees in the unit;

(c) if the Board is satisfied that the applicant trade union or council of trade unions has as members in good standing not less than thirty-five per cent and not more than fifty per cent of the employees in the appropriate unit, the Board shall forthwith order that a vote be conducted among the employees in the appropriate unit to determine whether the employees select the applicant trade union or council of trade unions to be bargaining agent in their behalf.

This part of the Act basically confirms that once the Labour Board has determined the validity of the workers on-site, if more than 50 per cent were unionized at the time, your company will automatically be certified without a vote. At that point you will be contacted by the business agent from the local union to begin negotiating a new contract for your employees. If a contract cannot be fairly negotiated within 120 days, under Nova Scotia law you are then subject to First Contract Arbitration, which at that time an arbitrator will impose a settlement.

 

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