Employers Must Provide Members Email Addresses to Union Rules BC Labour Board

http://www.bcfederationist.com

CAW Local 114 and UFCW Local 1518 were involved in a significant victory on a recent reconsideration case at the BC Labour Relations Board involving Viking Air and CAW Local 114.

At issue in the case was whether or not a provincially regulated employer was required to turn over email addresses in its possession to the Union upon request and whether or not this right was inherent in the BC Labour Relations Code or something that had to be bargained by unions at each negotiating table.

The CAW filed the complaint against Viking Air when it moved to a paperless pay stub system and required all employees to provide an email address for this purpose. The CAW took the position that the Union should be on an equal footing with the Employer with respect to employee contact information and that this right should not be constrained by a bare necessity approach but instead should be broadly interpreted.

CAW Local 114 had been successful in achieving a ruling that email address should be provided to the Union in a decision involving Port Transport in 2011 (BCLRB No. B50/2011). Incredibly, the same Vice-Chair at the LRB ruled against the Union in the original Viking Air case only a few months later when he found that email addresses did not have to be provided to the Union (BCLRB No. B18/2012).

The CAW filed an appeal of the original Viking Air decision and approached Brother Jim Sinclair to put the word out to other unions to join with us in fighting on this important issue, particularly given the changes in technology and our members’ preferred methods of communication.

UFCW Local 1518 intervened and filed a brief in support of the CAW application with the BC Labour Relations Board.

The BC Labour Relations Board issued its reconsideration decision on April 25, 2012, overturning the original decision and ruling unanimously in favour of the Union (BCLRB No. B87/2012).

As a result, all provincially regulated employer’s in BC must now provide not only names, addresses and phone numbers to any union upon request, but also must also provide email addresses of members if it collects them, as long as the information can be easily supplied and the employer does not have a sound business reason to refuse to provide the information. Viking Air’s attempted reliance on BC privacy legislation was also dismissed as a bar to provision of this information.

We believe that this decision is one of the first in Canada to deal explicitly with the issue of email addresses, and the highest decision from any labour board on this issue to date. We believe this decision is a major step forward into the twenty-first century in the labour movement’s ability to represent and communicate with our members.

Cooperation and solidarity between unions is essential as workers continue to come under attack from ruthless employers and right-wing governments

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