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Work camp operator’s attempt to thwart union organizing violates Labour Code

The BC Labour Relations Board has ruled that industrial camp operator Civeo interfered with its employees’ choice of union representation.

“In the face of an imminent (UNITE HERE) Local 40’s organizing drive, the employer sought to put an end to Local 40’s organizing efforts and to steer its employees toward its preferred union, rather than leaving that choice to its employees, as the (Labour) Code envisions,” wrote Brett Matthews, Labour Relations Board vice-chair in an October 12 ruling.

Local 40 had filed a complaint with the board following its attempt to organize employees at Steering GasLink and Trans Mountain camps near Burns Lake and Kitimat. According to the Labour Relations Board ruling, the union notified Civeo that it wanted access to workers in an attempt to organize them.

Shortly thereafter, Civeo approached the British Columbia Regional Council of Carpenters seeking a ‘voluntary recognition agreement’ for representation of its employees. It subsequently notified workers that the Carpenters would be their union, subject to ratification, and denied UNITE HERE members from accessing the camps.

UNITE HERE argued, successfully, that this denied workers the right to choose their own representation. The Labour Relations Board agreed.

“This labour board’s decision is a victory for all camp and construction workers that they should be able to choose their own union without employers picking a union for them,” said Robert Demand, executive director at UNITE HERE and an executive board member of the BC Building Trades. “Finally, UNITE HERE organizers can meet with camp workers and allow these cooks, camp attendants and others to decide if they want a union. I think they’ll be very interested in a fighting union like ours.”

Matthews ruled that the agreement between Civeo and the Carpenters be cancelled.

Civeo must now allow UNITE HERE Local 40 into the 7 Mile, 9A and P2 Lodges on the GasLink pipeline and the Trans Mountain Merritt Camp to speak to employees about joining B.C.’s camp workers union.

UNITE HERE Local 40 already represents Civeo workers at Sitka Lodge in Kitimat, along with other camp workers supporting LNG in Kitimat and the GasLink pipeline.

 

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