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2006 PSLRB 45
Certification -- LA group -- Whether appropriate bargaining unit is a service-wide bargaining unit or one that is geographically-based -- Bargaining units must be co-extensive with the employer’s classification unless such a unit would not permit the satisfactory representation of employees -- Past conflict between groups and regional market forces do not justify the creation of separate bargaining units -- Board favours broad-based bargaining units
As a result of the coming into effect of the Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA), the automatic exclusion of all lawyers in the Department of Justice (DOJ) from the process of collective bargaining ceased -- under the predecessor legislation to the PSLRA, a bargaining certificate had been issued to the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) as bargaining agent for a small group of lawyers who worked in the field of law outside of the DOJ -- with the coming into force of the PSLRA, the Federal Law Officers of the Crown (FLOC) and the Association of Justice Counsel (AJC) filed applications for certification with the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) -- the FLOC application covered all lawyers at the DOJ who are employed at the Ontario Regional Office (ORO), which represents about 10% of DOJ lawyers, whereas the application by the AJC covered all lawyers employed in the DOJ -- PIPSC applied for and was granted intervenor status in the hearing -- the Treasury Board asserted that neither of the proposed bargaining units were appropriate for collective bargaining and it argued that the bargaining unit should be a service-wide unit -- during the course of the hearing, the AJC amended its position to assert that the appropriate bargaining unit should be service-wide -- the FLOC asserted that the history of the relationship between lawyers working in the ORO and lawyers working elsewhere in Canada was such that the AJC could not adequately represent lawyers working in the ORO and indeed was committed to act against the interests of the ORO lawyers -- the goal of parity with Ontario Provincial Crown Attorneys, could, FLOC felt, be realized if they formed their own bargaining unit but was unattainable if they became part of a service-wide bargaining unit -- in determining whether a group of employees constitutes an appropriate unit for collective bargaining, the PSLRB must have regard to the employer’s classification of those employees and must establish units that are co-extensive with the occupational groups or sub-groups created by the employer unless doing so would not permit satisfactory representation of employees within the unit -- the unit proposed by FLOC does not constitute an occupational sub-group -- the existence of a regional rate of pay for ORO lawyers does not create such a subgroup -- the PSLRB disapproves of fragmentation and a multiplicity of bargaining units -- sound labour relations require broad-based bargaining units whenever possible -- regional market forces do not justify the creation of separate bargaining units -- the evidence of conflict between FLOC and the AJC does not establish that a service-wide bargaining unit would lead to the unsatisfactory representation of ORO lawyers -- the PSLRB concluded that a service-wide bargaining unit comprised of all lawyers in the LA group for which Treasury Board is the employer is the only appropriate bargaining unit -- the PSLRB was satisfied that a majority of the LA group wished to have the AJC as their bargaining agent -- the certificate issued to PIPSC was revoked and a certificate naming the AJC as bargaining agent will be issued in due course.