Recent amendments to the Labour Relations Act in Newfoundland & Labrador provide for automatic certification of a union if the application for certification contains evidence that at least 65% of the workers have signed union membership cards. Prior to this amendment, all certification applications were subject to a mandatory secret ballot vote. Removing the secret ballot vote, conducted by a neutral third party, eliminates an employee’s ability to freely and privately choose on union certification. This amendment significantly shifts the balance of our legislation in favour of organized labour, and will have a damaging impact on the labour relations climate in this province.

It is the unequivocal position of the NLEC that the Government of Newfoundland & Labrador rescind the provision for automatic certification of a union where the application is supported by at least 65% of the workers signing union membership cards, and reinstate mandatory secret ballot voting.

Removal of the right to a secret ballot vote on union certification is a step backwards in labour legislation. Secret ballot voting ensures the democratic right of all workers in a non-unionized environment to choose for themselves, without fear of pressure or coercion from either union or employer, whether or not they would like to be represented by a union.

Until this provision is rescinded, regulatory changes must be made to protect against the dangers of automatic card based certification.

The NLEC has identified six recommended regulatory changes that, in combination, will help mitigate the dangers of this legislation and improve the chances that the true will of the employee is captured when signing a union membership card. See a summary of these recommendations here.

The NLEC has developed a detailed position paper on automatic certification, details of which were presented to Minister Terry French and government representatives last Wednesday. We are currently awaiting a response from Minister French’s office on thes proposed regulatory changes.

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