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Supervisors included in main bargaining unit
July 22, 2000

In Barrier Packaging, BCLRB No. B264/2000, IWA Local 2171 applied for certification of a bargaining unit of production employees. At issue was whether three shift supervisors should be included in the proposed unit. The union argued that the supervisors should be excluded from the unit because their duties were sufficient to raise a potential conflict of interest. According to the employer, the supervisors were functionally integrated with the proposed production unit and should be part of it. The Labour Relations Board stated that the proper test is whether the duties performed by the supervisors create potential conflict of interest of such a degree that they cannot be accommodated in the proposed unit without threatening industrial stability (Highland Valley Copper, BCLRB No. B289/98). The factors to be considered are hiring, firing, discipline, promotion and labour relations input. The supervisory duties performed were quality control duties which were as much an integral part of the employer’s production process as manual labour. The function of quality control is not real supervision as understood in the authorities and is outside the Highland Valley Copper factors. The supervisors reported information to the employer which may be used as a basis for employee assessment, discipline, or hiring, but the supervisors themselves did not participate in the discipline, assessment or hiring decisions. While employees could not leave without advising a supervisor, it was management that determined whether to take the issue on and the supervisor was only a disinterested observer. Nothing in the circumstances of the supervisors’ employment could lead to the conclusion that there was any potential conflict of interest of the degree necessary to require their exclusion from the proposed unit. The Board ruled that the supervisors were properly part of the proposed unit (click here for full text of decision).