Strike Vote Not Valid
The Labour Relations Board has confirmed that strike votes must be meaningful. In effect, collective bargaining must have progressed at least to the point where it is clear what is in dispute before a strike vote can meet the legal requirements of the Labour Relations Code.
There has been a growing frustration over unions quickly moving to strike votes and strike notice in the middle of collective bargaining. The Code requires collective bargaining, followed by a strike vote, followed by 72 hour strike notice before a union is in a legal strike position. Too often, unions have been holding strike votes early in the bargaining process. But it is not helpful, and in many cases actually impedes the process, when the employer has to turn some of its attention away from bargaining to worry about facing strike action in as little as 72 hours.
The recent ruling in All Tech. Transport Ltd. (well known to Vancouver parking violators as Buster's Towing) is an important decision to help prevent normal course collective bargaining from prematurely turning into a full-blown labour dispute.
The parties proceeded in bargaining for a first collective agreement by discussing non-monetary issues before getting into the monetary. There were brief discussions on some monetary issues at a couple of meetings, before the parties returned to discuss non-monetary items. The parties even participated in mediation at the Board. But there was never a comprehensive exchange on monetary issues before the strike vote was taken.
The employer challenged the validity of the strike vote. The Board found in the employer's favour, and summarized the requirements this way:
... [the discussions on monetary items] were not the kind of discussions which satisfy what the Board has characterized as an exchange of views on all the key or central issues in dispute for the purposes of Section 59(1) of the Code.
... there must be an exchange of proposals and there must be some discussion (an exchange of views) on all the key or central issues in dispute ... .
collective bargaining labour dispute strike notice strike vote