FAQ - Creating a New Union

 


 
 
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Frequently Asked Questions

Creating a New Union

The Labour Relations Code allows employees to choose union representation. Most commonly, employees choose to have an existing union apply for certification on their behalf. Employees may also choose to create an entirely new union and subsequently have this union apply for certification.

Section 1(x) of the Code states:

1(x) "trade union" means an organization of employees that has a written constitution, rules or bylaws and has as one of its objects the regulation of relations between employers and employees;

This definition contains 3 requirements:

A trade union must be an organization of employees. The definition calls for employees formally joining together. It contemplates a democratic organization run by employees for their benefit.

A union's governing documents must be in writing. This enables employees to understand the rules by which the union operates.

One of the organization's objects must be the "regulation of relations between employers and employees." The exact words are less important than having an objects clause that fits this general requirement. It distinguishes trade unions from social or benevolent organizations unsuited to carrying out trade union duties.

This suggests that creating a new union requires:

Interested people draft a written constitution, bylaws or rules.

The constitution, bylaw or rules include a provision for dealing with the regulation of labour relations between employers and employees and a procedure for electing officers and calling meetings.

A meeting of employees approve the constitution, bylaws or rules.

Employees attending the meeting take out membership in the trade union.

The members ratify the constitution, bylaws or rules.

The members elect officers.

Prior to filing certification applications with the Board, unions must meet some filing requirements. Section 24 of the Code requires the union file with the Board a copy of its constitution, bylaws or other constitutional documents and a list of its officers with their contact information. This filing must occur at least 60 days before the new union applies for certification.

The Board is not able to assist employees in creating a new union. Existing unions or the Alberta Federation of Labour may be able to assist employees in creating a union. Employees may also wish to engage the assistance of a lawyer familiar with labour law. Employees can find the name of such a lawyer by calling the Lawyer Referral Hotline at 1-800-661-1095.

 


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