Sometimes unions merge or reorganize themselves. The bargaining rights the unions held before the change can transfer to the merged or reorganized union (called the successor union). The transfer of bargaining rights from the original union (called the predecessor union) to the successor union is known as a union successorship.
There are three ways a union successorship may happen:
- A merger of two unions
- An amalgamation of several unions
- A transfer of jurisdiction from one union to another
To have this change recognized by the Labour Relations Board, the successor union can make an application to the Board. This applies to certified and voluntarily recognized bargaining rights.
What does the Board look at?
The Board considers whether the predecessor and successor union are both trade unions under the Labour Relations Code.
The Board will next consider if the predecessor union has the authority to transfer its bargaining rights to the successor. The Board will also confirm that the successor union has the authority to receive the transfer. That authority could be found in the unions' constitution or by-laws, but this is not required.
If they are trade unions under the Code, the Board will consider whether
- the affected employees were given a chance to express their wishes on whether to merge, amalgamate, or transfer the bargaining rights, and
- a majority of them agreed to the merger, amalgamation or transfer of bargaining rights.
If not, the Board may order a vote. A vote may be counted membership wide. It doesn't have to be held bargaining unit-by-unit.
What happens if the application is successful?
If the Board decides there is a successorship, it may declare the successor union is now the exclusive bargaining agent. The successor union will bargain with the employer, inherit the collective agreement, and inherit any outstanding grievances. However, not all the bargaining units represented by the union need to be included in the successorship. It is possible to have a successorship with only some bargaining units. This is called a partial successorship.
In addition to the Board deciding whether to order a vote among the employees, it may also decide the date the successorship comes into effect.
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.