The BC Labour Relations Board has recently confirmed that an employer does not commit an unfair labour practice under the Labour Relations Code by soliciting employee comments on workplace issues.
In this case the employer circulated to its employees a voluntary survey seeking workplace improvement suggestions. The results of a previous survey were used by the employer during collective bargaining to refute the merits of the union’s proposals. The union argued this practice undermined its status by interfering with its exclusive authority to identify and table issues raised by its members.
In dismissing the union’s application, the Board noted that an employer has a right to communicate directly with its employees so long as it does not coerce, intimidate, or attempt to bargain directly with them. Here, there was no evidence that the employer was attempting to bargain with the employees rather than the union. The fact that the employer could use the information it gathered during collective bargaining negotiations was part and parcel of the bargaining process and did not prevent the union from engaging in the same course of action.
This case will be of interest to unionized employers seeking to address employee concerns generally, and during collective bargaining.