This is the second article in our three-part series highlighting recent changes to Alberta’s labour and employment legislation.  Here we focus on changes to Alberta’s labour relations regime. As a result of recent enactments, a number of significant changes to Alberta’s Labour Relations Code (“LRC”) are now in effect, as outlined below.

Certification:  “Card-based” certification has been implemented generally (not just in particular sectors).  If between 40% and 65% of employees sign union cards, a vote will still be required, and certification will only occur if a majority of employees vote in favour of certification. If over 65% of employees have signed a card, certification will occur without a vote. The Alberta Labour Relations Board (“ALRB”) may order a vote in any situation where there is doubt as to the authenticity of the support or where the ALRB feels it is necessary.

First Contract Arbitration: First contract arbitration will now be directed to end difficult negotiations between an employer and union. The post-certification freeze on changing terms and conditions of employment has been extended from 60 days to 120 days. Unions may request assistance from the ALRB if 90 days have elapsed and no collective agreement has been reached.

Expanded Arbitrator Powers: Unions and employers may ask for a supervised strike or lockout vote prior to the expiry of a collective agreement. Arbitrators may extend the time available for a grievance matter after the expiration of the time frame set out in a collective agreement. Arbitrators may also:

  • make interim orders;
  • expedite proceedings;
  • set dates;
  • work with parties to resolve differences; and
  • apply solutions in accordance with other employment legislation.

In addition, various incremental changes are now in effect.

See here for our first article in the series in which we outlined the changes to Alberta’s employment standards.