On April 6, 2020, B.C.’s Labour Relations Regulation was amended by Order in Council No. 171-2020 to extend the validity of union membership cards from 90 days to 6 months.
This change comes after the B.C. Minister of Labour, the Honourable Harry Bains, appointed an independent panel (the “Panel”) to review the BC Labour Relations Code (the “Code”) in February 2018. After meeting with various groups across BC, including the BC Federation of Labour, the BC Business Council, the Arbitrators Association of BC, the Labour Relations Board, and the Labour Subsection of the Canadian Bar Association, the Panel wrote and released its report, titled Recommendations for Amendments to the Labour Relations Code, in August 2018.
Amongst other changes, the Panel recommended extending the period of time for which union membership cards remain valid, stating that the 90-day time-frame “unduly restricts organizing beyond single sites, and particularly in the context of changes to the economy and workplaces.” The Panel referenced longer periods for card validity in other provinces, including Ontario (1 year) and Alberta and Manitoba (6 months).
For employers, this change will mean longer organizing drives, and as a result, a prolonged period during which they will be subject to heightened scrutiny that any action taken to discipline employee or alter terms and conditions of employment are improperly motivated by anti-union animus. For advice on issues that may arise in an organizing drive, please contact Vincent Johnston or Chris Leenheer.