The Labour Relations Code (LRC) governs the process for unionizing workplaces in Alberta.

In spring 2017, the NDP government took just 36 days to review the LRC, and then introduced major changes to it in Bill 17 – The Fair and Family Friendly Workplaces Act. These changes will make it much easier for unions to get a foothold in workplaces across Alberta – including hotels.

New Rules September 1

The new legislation is dramatically changing the unionization process in Alberta. The following changes take effect September 1, 2017.

  • If over 65% of employees sign a union card, the bargaining unit identified will be certified. The bargaining unit is the segment of workers within a workplace that has been chosen by the union. Employers can be taken completely by surprise.
    • In a hotel with 10 housekeepers, the union only needs 7 signatures to be certified without a vote. The hotel may become unionized without management even being aware there was a union drive.
  • It is up to the employer to prove that it has not committed an unfair labour practice. If an employee or a union believes an unfair labour practice has been committed, such as threatening or firing employees supportive of a union, the onus is on the employer to prove such a practice did not occur.
  • If an employer can’t prove it didn’t commit an unfair labour practice, the Labour Relations Board (LRB) can automatically certify the union without a vote. For example, if an employer is found to have fired employees supportive of unionizing, the workplace could automatically be unionized without a vote.
  • Once a union is certified, if the employer & union cannot negotiate a collective agreement, the LRB has the power to impose one. The first collective agreement is the first contract negotiated between the union and the employer that determines the terms of employment for those in the bargaining unit.

Read More About Unions & You

The Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association disclaims any liability with respect to the use of the information or reliance thereon contained in this publication. Nothing in this publication should be construed as legal opinion or advice.