LABOUR LAW 

The world of labour law is increasingly complex. Unions and professional associations have to navigate an overlapping array of laws and regulations that are frequently changing. This field of law requires highly specialized expertise, which the labour lawyers at RavenLaw have developed over the past three decades. 

We offer a full range of services to our union clients, from timely strategic advice to effective representation in all manner of legal proceedings. We represent workers across Canada, including federally regulated unions, and those in several provincial and territorial jurisdictions with lawyers called to the bar in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories. Our clients span a variety of industries in the public and private sectors, including manufacturing, health care, and education. Regardless of the type of work your members perform or the legal issue they are facing, we are here to help.

 

Some of the services we provide include:

  • Advising unions on a range of matters affecting the collective bargaining relationship, including privatization and contracting out;
  • Preparing and presenting grievances regarding violations of the collective agreement, and representing unions at labour mediations and arbitrations;
  • Drafting, filing, and arguing unfair labour practice complaints, certification applications, related and successor employer applications, and countless other matters before provincial, territorial and federal labour boards and other administrative tribunals;
  • Representing unions in civil proceedings such as injunctions arising out of work stoppages or picketing activities;
  • Appearing before all levels of court in jurisdictions across the country, with particular expertise in judicial review and appellate litigation;
  • Advising and drafting language during collective agreement negotiations, as well as routinely acting as union nominees on both rights and interest boards of arbitration;
  • Assisting with Access to Information requests and providing advice on privacy legislation. In addition to using access to information requests as a strategic tool in our litigation practice, our firm provides guidance and representation throughout the process. This includes complaints and court applications, and advice on how to maximize results and reduce delays.
  • Providing advice and representation regarding federal, provincial and territorial workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety matters, including the Federal Government Employees Compensation Act (GECA), work refusals and workplace harassment. 
  • Offering presentations to labour organizations on topics pertaining to labour arbitrations and effective labour representation;
  • Preparing and presenting courses teaching advocacy skills to union representatives. Basic courses cover the elements of the grievance, arguing a grievance, the referral to arbitration, preliminary objections, and more. Advanced advocacy training courses include advocacy skills like opening statements, developing arguments, and cross examination. We design courses that focus on particular areas of the law relevant to the client; discipline and discharge, innocent absenteeism, or disability issues (including the duty to accommodate) are only a few examples. To find out more about presentations we can offer, please contact us.

 

RECENT NOTABLE CASES

RavenLaw is proud to represent workers’ organizations across the country. Some of our recent cases include: 

 

  • Trillium Health Partners v Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 5180: in this grievance arbitration in the healthcare sector, the Canadian Union of Public Employees argued that its members were eligible for pandemic pay under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The Hospital argued that the legislation should be interpreted to exclude support workers represented by CUPE, some of whom performed essential pandemic-related tasks like fitting masks, coaching staff on the proper use of PPE, COVID-screening, and patient relations. Arbitrator Randazzo agreed that these workers were vital to the Hospital’s pandemic response and confirmed that the legislation should be given a broad interpretation “to compensate those frontline workers fighting the spread of COVID-19.”

 

  • Office and Professional Employees International Union v Canadian Helicopters Limited (Canadian Helicopters Offshore): the Office and Professional Employees International Union argued before the Canada Industrial Relations Board that the employer had violated the statutory freeze period when it unilaterally implemented a new schedule and wage structure for six newly hired temporary pilots, contrary to its existing practice. The Board agreed with the union and held that the employer was required to receive the union’s consent before it changed the terms and conditions of employment within the statutory freeze. The Board’s decision was upheld by the Federal Court of Appeal on judicial review

 

  • Public Service Alliance of Canada v. Canada Revenue Agency: in this recent complaint before the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board, the Canada Revenue Agency had denied the right of the Public Service Alliance of Canada to post a communique to its members following a breakdown in bargaining. The Board found that the employer’s actions constituted an unfair labour practice, holding that employers “cannot be allowed to determine what the bargaining unit members hear about bargaining, to prevent them from mobilizing to job action in the workplace.”

 

  • Kingston (City) v Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 109: in this grievance arbitration, the City of Kingston enacted a policy denying CUPE members’ rights under the Collective Agreement to personal leave for reason of illness. Arbitrator Parmar confirmed CUPE’s interpretation of the Agreement and held that the employer was not entitled to interrogate whether the reason for a worker’s leave was “appropriate”. She further found that the union’s initial silence when the policy was communicated did not prevent them from insisting on their members’ rights under the Agreement. 

 

  • Office and Professional Employees International Union v Cougar Helicopters: in this grievance arbitration, OPIEU successfully received an interlocutory injunction against Cougar Helicopters when it attempted to implement company-wide random drug testing on its members. Arbitrator Ashely found that OPIEU and its members would suffer irreparable harm if the policy were to be implemented and that the balance of convenience favoured maintaining the existing policy until the matter could be heard. In the hearing on the merits, the same arbitrator found that the employer’s random testing was “an unjustified affront to the dignity and privacy rights of the affected employees.”

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