Unions must include evidence of membership when making an application to be certified to represent a group of employees. The group of employees a union applies to represent is called a proposed bargaining unit.
The membership evidence is intended to show that the union has the support of a minimum percentage of the employees in the proposed bargaining unit. This is called threshold support.
A union needs to show threshold support before the Labour Relations Board will order a vote among the employees in the group. The Board looks at the membership evidence to see whether the threshold support requirement is met.
The percentage of threshold support depends on the type of application for certification.
What is membership evidence?
There are two types of membership evidence the Board will accept:
- copies of membership cards signed by the employee within six months of the date of the application for certification, or
- proof of dues payment to the union within six months of the date of application, if a membership card was signed more than six months before the date of application
The Board treats membership evidence as confidential information. This is why a union does not, and should not, give copies to the other parties, usually the employer, when they file the application.
Requirements for membership cards
The Board reviews the membership cards to make sure they meet the requirements in the Labour Relations Regulation, Part 2 - Membership evidence
A membership card needs to:
- have the minimum wording set out in the Regulation
- be signed and dated at the same time by the individual named on the membership card
- be signed within six months of the application date
Important things to remember:
- another person can't sign the card for you
- write the date so the Board can clearly tell when the card was signed
- we encourage you to refer to the month using letters, not numbers, to avoid any ambiguity, e.g. 10 SEPT not 10/09
A union can file electronic membership cards if the cards meet the membership evidence requirements and are created by a software platform with an acceptable audit trail, such as Adobe E-Sign.
Working Enterprises, BCLRB No. B67/2016 (738 KB) decision that describes audit requirements for electronic membership cards.Read the
If the Board isn't satisfied these requirements have been met, the membership card will be rejected and won't count towards the calculation of threshold.
Will the Board reject membership cards for other reasons?
The Board may also reject membership cards if it decides the card doesn't reflect the true wishes of the employee. For example:
- there were fraudulent or illegal organizing tactics,
- the card was signed due to coercion or intimidation, or
- misrepresentations were made which render the card conditional or equivocal
If the rejected membership cards mean threshold is not met, the Board may dismiss the application.
What happens when the Board receives the membership cards?
When the union makes an application for certification it must include copies of union membership cards to show it has threshold support.
The union must keep the original membership cards because the Board may ask to inspect the paper cards or the audit trail if the union filed electronic membership evidence.
When the union files membership evidence with an application by email, the membership cards must be:
- scanned and attached in pdf format
- scanned in color
- scanned clearly, so that the cards are legible
- submitted as a single pdf document, without a password (the Board will add its own password upon receipt)
What if I signed a membership card and have changed my mind?
If an employee signs a membership card but changes their mind, they can revoke (withdraw) their membership card filed in support of the union's application.
To do this, the employee must sign a written statement that clearly says they want to cancel or revoke their membership in the union.
The Board must receive the statement before midnight on the day the union filed its application. The statement must be sent to both the union and the Board.
If the statement meets these requirements and is filed on time, the revoked membership card will not be counted in deciding whether the union has met threshold.
Leading decisions provide useful information on how the Labour Relations Board applies the Labour Relations Code (the Code) and information on what is or is not covered by the Code.