November 5, 2015
The BC Labour Relations Board recently denied a union’s request to picket at or near the homes of five truck drivers who were lawfully performing replacement work during an ongoing labour dispute.
The decision concerns the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) and the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union, Local 378 (COPE). After BCAA legally locked out COPE dispatch workers, the employer assigned some duties normally performed by the dispatchers to its non-union truck drivers who were able to perform these duties from their vehicles.
In a prior decision, the Board ruled that the Union was permitted to engage in picketing at the building where fleet operations had been moved (BCLRB No. B143/2015). COPE also sought to picket the drivers’ trucks, no matter the location (BCLRB No. B144/2015). However, the Board determined public safety concerns overwhelmingly weighed against granting the union’s request and found that road safety issues would arise if picketers were permitted to follow trucks through traffic or to picket roadside stops.
In this context, COPE subsequently applied to picket the private homes of the truck drivers, on the basis that the employer’s trucks were parked at these locations when not in use. COPE argued that no public safety concerns would arise from this picketing.
The Board ultimately determined that although attempting to dissuade individuals from performing replacement work serves a valid labour relations purpose for picketing, that purpose was adequately satisfied by COPE’s ongoing picketing activity at other locations. The Board determined no labour relations or Constitutional purpose would be served by extending this right to allow picketing at the drivers’ homes, and that COPE’s application had the potential to allow picketing pressure at times and places where the drivers were not performing replacement work.
This decision emphasizes important limits on picketing in British Columbia. The decision also makes clear that the Board will consider not solely whether there is a labour relations purpose in support of an application to picket a specific location, but also whether that purpose can be, or has already been, met by picketing activity at other, perhaps less intrusive, locations.
A full text of the decision can be found here: BCLRB No. B214/2015
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