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Ontario Labour Relations Board Reaffirms Weekend and Holiday Certification Applications for Construction Unions

Written by
Mathews Dinsdale, Canada’s only national labour and employment law firm.
Ontario Labour Relations Board Reaffirms Weekend and Holiday Certification Applications

The Ontario Labour Relations Board has reaffirmed its practice of allowing construction unions to bring applications for certification on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. According to the Ontario Labour Relations Boards rules, an application for certification that is sent by priority courier is deemed to have been filed on the date it is sent.  With many post offices open seven days a week, unions can file an application for certification on the weekend. This is an important tactical advantage for construction unions in organizing drives because under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, only those workers on a construction site on the date of the application are eligible to vote. Filing an application on the weekend allows the union to select an application date when fewer workers are on site.

In Legacy (Cyber Services Electrical and Fire Alarm Specialists), the union filed its application for certification on a Saturday, when only one of the company's three job sites was active. The company argued that the correct filing date should be the following Monday, alleging that the workers present on Saturday had specifically asked to work that day, contrary to the company's regular practice. The company claimed that this was a subterfuge intended to manipulate the number of workers who would be eligible for the vote. The board rejected the argument without examining the truth of its claim and confirmed that Saturday was the filing date under the Board's rules. In explaining its reasons, the board stated that there is always a degree of arbitrariness in selecting the application filing date, and no day will be perfectly representative. Further, the Board stated it is up to employers to decide whether to let employees work on weekends or holidays, so they can choose whether to expose themselves to the risk of a weekend or holiday application.