Unions & Labour Relations

The mass resignation of the Executive Committee of the Board of the Ontario Medical Association is not ‘abandoning ship’: the individual members are remaining on the Board of Directors because “They have a wealth of experience and knowledge that would be a significant loss to us if they were to leave the Board. The Executive Committee is making this choice in the hope that this will help unify doctors and advance the interests of the profession at this critical juncture”: “Ontario Medical Association head resigns following no-confidence vote.” The Globe and Mail, 6 February 2017. Continue Reading “Too Legit to Quit”: When a Board Executive Resigns, Sort Of

In what looked outwardly as a mercurial development, management of the union local that represents Toronto Transit Commission workers was itself subject to discipline and it didn’t involve the proverbial requisite remedial form that unions promulgate to employers. Incestuously, this was Big Brother telling a younger — and foreign — sibling to ‘leave the sandbox’ immediately: “TTC union heads fired in power battle with U.S. union.” The Globe and Mail, 3 February 2017.  Continue Reading ‘Disturbance in the Force’: When Unions Look Inward

On July 15, 2016, we wrote about the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision in Wilson v. Atomic Energy, 2016 SCC 29 (“Wilson”). In that case, the SCC held that most federally-regulated, non-union employees with 12 or more consecutive months of service can only be dismissed for “just cause”. See our earlier blog post here.

Following the Wilson decision, many federal employers were left wondering whether they still have the right to downsize or impose layoffs in response to a decline in their business. Such employers will be happy to learn that “downsizing” imposed for legitimate business reasons is still possible (subject to certain restrictions). Under s. 242(3.1)(a) of the Canada Labour Code, RSC, 1985, c L-2 (the “Code“), an adjudicator will not consider the complaint of an employee who has been laid off due to a “lack of work” or “discontinuance of a function”. Continue Reading Federal Employers May “Downsize” Despite Recent SCC Decision

Does the workplace extend into cyberspace?  In a precedent setting decision with potentially far-reaching implications, a labour arbitrator has found an employer liable for failing to protect its workers from harassment and discrimination in customer posts on the employer’s Twitter account (Toronto Transit Commission and ATU, Local 113, 2016 CarswellOnt 10550).  Employers using social media to communicate with clients, customers or the general public may need to rethink how to they respond to uncivil, abusive or threatening online posts targeting their workers. Continue Reading Are Employers Responsible for Protecting Their Employees on Social Media? “Yes” According to a Recent Decision

On January 11, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States (“SCOTUS“) heard oral arguments in Freidrichs v California Teachers Association. If questions from the bench are any indication of the Court’s perspective on the matter, public sector unions in the United States may be in trouble.

Freidrichs considers whether California State law requiring non-union members to pay “agency fees” violates the first amendment right to freedom of speech. Agency fees are charged to cover the cost of services performed by the union on behalf of all employees – in particular, collective bargaining activities.

Continue Reading What if I Don’t Want to Join the Club: Skepticism Rising on Mandatory (Public) Union Fees

On December 10, 2015, Bill 109, the Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act, 2015 (the “Act“) received Royal Assent. The Act introduces new labour relations provisions for two large groups of employees in Ontario: firefighters and public sector employees. Most significantly, the Act also amends the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (“WSIA“), increasing employer liability (retroactively, in some cases) regarding workers’ compensation claims and survivor death benefits.

Continue Reading Retroactive Liability and Other Amendments to Labour and Employment Legislation in Ontario

Back by popular demand, we highlight the ten most significant developments in Canadian labour and employment law in 2015: Continue Reading Top 10 Canadian Labour & Employment Law Developments of 2015

Franchisors who place strict controls on their franchisees may also have to answer for their franchisee’s human rights practices.

Product and service consistency is the backbone of coffee giant Tim Hortons’ successful business model. Tim Hortons, like many other successful franchisors, imposes a strict regime on its stores in order to ensure that all Canadians can get the same cup of coffee, in the same cup, regardless of where they order it. Control manifests itself through an extensive franchise agreement, detailed operations rules and regular audits of individual stores.

Continue Reading Is the price of a consistent cup of coffee shared human rights liability?

In British Columbia Teachers’ Federation v. British Columbia (“BCTF“) the British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA“) decided that legislation cancelling terms in a collective agreement, for the benefit of achieving education policy objectives, did not infringe the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Practically speaking, BCTF demonstrates that legislators can impose narrow, reasonable restrictions over what can be negotiated at the bargaining table without breaching the Charter‘s freedom of association. Needless to say, this is a welcome development for public sector employers and legislatures who seek to impose reasonable limitations on the collective bargaining process.

Continue Reading Trilogy not a Triumph for Teachers: BC Court of Appeal Upholds Law Putting Education Policy Ahead of Collective Bargaining

Our U.S. colleagues recently wrote a great piece about the long-awaited and much-debated decision of the National Labour Relations Board (the “NLRB”) in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, 362 NLRB No. 186,  (“Browning-Ferris”) which has dramatically changed the concept of “joint employment” south of the border.  U.S. employers who – on the basis of 30 years of NLRB precedent – have operated on the basis that workers supplied by temporary staffing agencies were not their employees should take heed.  The rules have changed and employers will need to adapt.  Readers who want a purely U.S. analysis of this landmark case can link to it here. Continue Reading Meet the New Boss…. Same as the Old Boss? Temporary Workers and Joint Employment in the U.S. and Canada