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Industrial Stability A Factor In Initial Certifications
September 17, 2003

In a September 15, 2003 decision, the Labour Relations Board confirmed that industrial stability is a factor to be considered in initial applications for certification. In Vancouver Film School and Vancouver Film School Faculty Association, BCLRB No. B291/2003 the Board reconsidered an earlier decision in which the Board concluded that a group of faculty and teaching assistants working at one Vancouver Film School building was an appropriate unit for collective bargaining. The Board’s decision was based primarily on the fact that the Vancouver Film School operates out of several buildings in the downtown core and that employees were therefore geographically separated to a sufficient degree that they could develop separate communities of interest.

On reconsideration, the employer argued that the Board misapplied the factors outlined in Island Medical Laboratories, BCLRB No. B308/93 (“IML“), that are to be considered in determining the appropriateness of a bargaining unit for less than the full complement of employees. In addition, the employer challenged the Board’s policy in IML on the basis that it did not adequately address instability which may result from a small group of unionized employees disrupting non-union areas of an employer’s operations.

The Board overturned the original decision on the basis that the original panel failed to properly apply the IML factors. In addition, while the Board declined to reformulate the IML “building block” approach, it acknowledged that some Board decisions regarding initial certifications had focused almost exclusively on the goal of fostering access to collective bargaining, thus failing to adequately consider industrial stability concerns. The Board reaffirmed that the IML approach is intended to consider both access to collective bargaining and industrial stability as fundamental to any determination of appropriateness, even on an initial applications for certification.

The Board’s comments in the Vancouver Film School decision suggest that, in the future, industrial stability concerns will be one of the important factors considered by the Board when determining appropriate bargaining units in the context of initial applications for certification.

(click here for full text of the judgment)