June 27, 2012
The Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, MHA
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
Office of the Premier
Confederation Building, East Block
P.O. Box 8700
St. John's, NL
I am writing to express our astonishment and dismay at the quick passage of Bill 37 without the knowledge and support of the business community in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Bill, which fundamentally and decisively tips the balance of power in favour of unions, was introduced to the House of Assembly and passed over a period of four days! There was no consultation with the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) and no opportunity for debate or to consider amendments.
The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association represents Newfoundland and Labrador’s $860-million restaurant industry, which is the province’s third-largest private-sector employer directly employing more than 13,000 people.
CRFA is strongly opposed to the amendments to the Labour Relations Act, which deny employees their basic democratic right to a secret ballot vote. A government-supervised secret ballot vote is the only fair and accurate mechanism in which to determine the true wishes of employees. In fact, a Nanos Research poll found that 84% of Canadians believe a secret ballot vote should be required when forming or removing a union from a workplace. The percentage increases to 87% in Atlantic Canada.
Under a card-based system there is no obligation on the union organizer to inform employees in advance about the rules of certification and the significance of the signed card in the certification procedure. Because a union organizer’s goal is to obtain as many signed cards as possible, it is unrealistic to expect that the organizer will voluntarily provide a full and balanced account of the individual’s right to accept or reject the union’s campaign. The union can make whatever statement it chooses about the employer, including comments on the financial viability of the business. However, efforts by employers to advise employees of their rights or provide information about their business are labeled as “interference” by unions.
The secret ballot vote is the only fair process in a democratic environment. It allows employees to make an important decision free of peer pressure and intimidation from both employers and unions. It also respects the intelligence of employees to make reasoned judgments and improves the degree of choice which employees exercise in the certification process.
CRFA is also surprised that the process for revocation of certification of a union doesn’t parallel that of a certification and we ask you to introduce further amendments to the Labour Code to ensure, at minimum, that it is no harder or easier to revoke a union relationship than to establish one.
Again, CRFA is extremely disappointed that opposition to this amendment by the employer representatives on the Employment Relations Committee was ignored and that this fundamental change to labour relations was rammed through the House of Assembly without proper consultation with the business community.
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
c.c.: Hon. Terry French, Minister of Environment and Conservation and Minister
Responsible for the Labour Relations Agency
Members of the House of Assembly