UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

First agreement arbitration in British Columbia, 1974-1979 Cleveland, Deborah J.


Sections 70-72 of the Labour Code of British Columbia provide the Labour Relations Board with the discretionary authority to impose a first collective agreement when the actions of the employer, employees or union are motivated by a desire to totally frustrate collective bargaining and prevent the negotiation of a first collective agreement. This thesis examines the application of these provisions and their effectiveness in establishing collective bargaining relationships. The data is based on the thirty cases involving applications for imposition of a first collective agreement which occurred in British Columbia between 1974 and 1979. Research was done by review of the decisions of the Labour Relations Board and by a questionnaire for each case completed by an employee of the Board. Most Section 70 applications involved unskilled workers employed in either the service or manufacturing sectors of the economy. The unions involved organized on either an industrial or miscellaneous basis and were affiliated with the British Columbia Federation of Labour. The most significant feature of the unions involved in Section 70 applications was their tendency to be involved in multiple applications with different employers. The size of the bargaining units was relatively large when compared to the size of all bargaining units certified during the time period of the research. In the cases where the Section 70 application was granted the imposition of the first agreement was not effective in assisting the employers and unions to establish an enduring collective bargaining relationship. Although the imposition of the agreements established first collective agreements which otherwise would not have been concluded, the employers continued to oppose recognition of the certified trade unions. The bargaining units were usually decertified after expiry of the first agreement imposed under Section 70. In the cases where the Section 70 applications were settled without a formal ruling by the Labour Relations Board, the legislation was moderately effective in providing the employees involved with the opportunity to experience collective bargaining. The existence of the Section 70 provisions gave the Labour Relations Board the entree to become involved in these disputes. Through mediation, the Labour Relations Board was able to remedy the parties' initial difficulties in concluding first agreements. In many of these cases second and third agreements were subsequently negotiated by the employers and unions. The emphasis placed by the Labour Relations Board in attempting to settle applications for imposition of a first agreement without issuing a formal order is an important aspect of the deterrent effect of the Section 70 provisions. The major factors which prevented the establishment of enduring collective bargaining relationships were the marginal support the unions had among bargaining unit members at the time of certification; the continued and persistent opposition by the employers to recognition of the unions; and, the role played by small groups of employees who did not support the union. The union certifications were not able to survive the combined influence of these factors.

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