Trade union status

To be certified to represent employees under the Labour Relations Code, an organization must meet the definition of a trade union. To meet that definition, an organization must:  

  • be one of the following, either:
    • a local or B.C. organization or association of employees, or
    • a local or B.C. branch of a national or international organization or association of employees
  • have as one of its purposes the regulation of relations between employers and employees in British Columbia through collective bargaining
  • not be dominated or influenced by an employer 

Trade unions can be an association or council of trade unions. They may not be an organization or association of employees that is dominated or influenced by an employer. Relations between employers and employees and trade unions must be regulated through collective bargaining.

If a trade union wants to be recognized by the Board, it must  show how it meets the definition of a trade union in the Code.

If you want your organization to be recognized as a trade union under the Code, you will need to show your organization is viable and:

  • one of the purposes of the organization is to regulate relations between employers and employees through collective bargaining,
  • there was a founding meeting held to elect temporary officers or officers (e.g. President, Secretary, etc.)
  • the organization has adopted a constitution and bylaws through a vote by the members
  • it has membership cards that meet the requirements set out in the Regulations
  • it has a process for membership dues
  • it is local or provincial in nature
  • it isn't employer dominated

If any of these criteria are not met, the Board may not recognize your organization as a trade union under the Code and an application for certification may be dismissed.

The question of whether an organization is a trade union most often arises in the context of trade union certification. When filing an application for certification, the organization can apply to be recognized as a trade union.

To apply for trade union status, file an application using the Board’s online application process when you file the certification application. You will be asked to provide information about how the union was founded, when founding meetings were held, what was discussed at the first meeting, if any officers were elected, and anything else that sets out how the union was founded.

If the Board recognizes  the organization as a trade union, the organization must  go through the certification process and meet all its requirements, including showing that it has the support of the employees.


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This page was last updated: 2021-05-14

Disclaimer: The information on this website is provided for general purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is subject to the Labour Relations Code, the Labour Relations Board Rules, the Labour Relations Regulation and the published decisions of the Board

The Labour Relations Board acknowledges the traditional territories of the many diverse Indigenous Peoples in the geographic area we serve. With gratitude and respect, we acknowledge that the Board’s office is located on the traditional unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.