May 9, 2014
Alberta Accepts Recommendations to Construction Labour Relations Legislation
In the fall of 2012, the Alberta provincial government commissioned Andrew Sims, Q.C., former Chair and current Vice-Chair of the Alberta Labour Relations Board, and respected labour arbitrator, to prepare a report reviewing Alberta’s labour legislation in the construction industry. This report was to build upon earlier consultation with stakeholders in the industry.
In preparing his report, Mr. Sims studied current labour legislation, previous work on the issues, and the views and opinions of project owners, labour, and affiliated contractor organizations. The goal of the project was to receive input from all sides and, if necessary, to develop recommendations for possible changes to Alberta’s labour relations legislation.
The Sims Report was received in late 2013. The Alberta Government has now accepted Mr. Sims’ recommendations on a number of issues, and intends to make a number of legislative changes, including:
- Bargaining Unit Structure – Legislative and Labour Relations Board policy changes should be made to permit all-employee bargaining units for collective bargaining (while also maintaining craft-based bargaining units for unions and employers who structure their workforce along craft lines)
- The “Build-Up” Principle – The Labour Relations Board should re-evaluate its practice of not considering the anticipated size of the workforce in determining whether or not to approve a union’s application to represent workers at a worksite in the construction industry
- Stakeholder Dialogue – The government should use the existing tools in the Labour Relations Code (multi-sector advisory councils and round-table conferences) to improve communications among the various participants in the construction industry
- Major Project Agreements – The legislationcurrently permits the Board to “carve out” approved major projects from existing collective agreements and replaces them with Project Agreements. Instead, collective agreements should provide specific provisions to cover work on “major projects”, including a no-strike, no-lockout clause for the duration of the approved major project. This alternative mechanism would continue to recognize all the existing agreements, but require that those agreements must be modified for that project to conform to the project’s requirements
- Scope of Registration – Where a local trade union is party to a registration collective agreement, the obligations in the agreement should apply to the union’s parent union or affiliated local union
- Major Transmission Line Work – The Labour Relations Board should examine whether a major transmission line work should be placed in the “specialty construction” sector for collective bargaining purposes and provide its advice to government
If you have any questions about these changes, or any other questions relating to workplace law, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.
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