Canada Industrial Relations Board finds Employer Breached Duty to Bargain in Good Faith by Failing to Inform Union of the Reason for Not Ratifying the Collective Agreement

On December 10, 2014, the Canada Industrial Relations Board (“CIRB”) released its decision finding that an employer, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation Council, breached its duty to bargain in good faith when it failed to communicate to the union its reasons for deciding not to ratify a first collective agreement.

The employer and the union, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, reached a tentative agreement on a first collective agreement on December 2, 2010. However, by February of 2011, the employer had not yet held the Council meeting needed to decide whether to ratify the tentative collective agreement. After the union filed a bad faith bargaining complaint, the Council meeting was held, and on March 17, 2011, the employer advised the union that it had decided not to ratify the tentative agreement. The employer did not communicate the reasons for its decision and did not do so until March 27, 2012, when evidence was given on the issue at the oral hearing into the bad faith bargaining complaint before the CIRB.

The CIRB held that the employer had an obligation to communicate more than simply the decision not to ratify. In the circumstances of the case, the employer also had an obligation to communicate the reasons for its decision not to ratify. Although employer did ultimately communicate the reasons for its decision, it was not until it was compelled to give evidence in a hearing before the CIRB. The communication was therefore not made in a timely matter. The CIRB concluded that the employer was in breach of the obligation under section 50(a) of the Canada Labour Code to make every reasonable effort to enter into a collective agreement.

The CIRB granted extensive remedies for the employer’s failure to bargain in good faith.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada was represented by Andrew Raven, Michael Fisher and Mary Mackinnon of our firm.

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