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Union Organization Before and After Work not a Violation of Code
September 8, 2006

A recent decision from the BC Labour Relations Board permits unions, in certain cases, to organize employees while they are walking to and from their place of work. The LRB’s decision was made after Gateway Casinos filed a complaint maintaining that that the union had organized its employees during working hours in contravention of the Labour Relations Code.

According to Gateway Casinos, union organizers had stood in a publicly accessible area of the employer’s parkade and attempted to persuade employees to join the union while they walked to and from work. The employer argued that the Code prohibits organizing at all times by non-employees on the employer’s property without the consent of the employer or an order from the Board.

The LRB ruled that section 7(1) of the Code limits unions’ organizing activities only when all the following five conditions are present:

1. The employer has not consented to the organizing activities occurring during working hours;

2. The attempt to persuade must be by a union or a person acting on behalf of a union;

3. The attempt at persuasion must occur at the “employer’s place of employment”;

4. The attempt at persuasion must be made “during working hours”; and

5. There must be an “attempt” to persuade an employee of an employer to join or not to join a trade union.

In dismissing the employer’s complaint, the Board found that the fourth condition had not been met. Specifically, the LRB concluded that “working hours” does not include the time an employee travels to and from work. In the Board’s view this time of the day is part of an employee’s off-duty hours.

Gateway Casinos LP and BCGEU, BCLRB No. B195/2006, August 17, 2006 (Saunders): :