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UNFAIR LABOUR PRACTICES - By employer - Failure to bargain

Wednesday, August 02, 2017 @ 8:25 AM  


Appeal by the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (Union) from the dismissal of its application for judicial review of a decision of the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board (Board). The Board dismissed the Union’s unfair labour practices complaint and its application for a common employer declaration. In April 2014, the Union was certified to represent taxi drivers employed by Comfort Cabs Ltd. (Comfort Cabs) in Saskatoon. The parties then negotiated a collective bargaining agreement. Comfort Cabs refused to bargain with the Union over the allocation, issuance, and leasing of taxi plates that operated under its name on the basis that they were not matters over which Comfort Cabs had any authority or control. The Union subsequently applied to the Board, claiming unfair labour practices by Comfort Cabs for its failure to bargain on the issue. At the same time, the Union sought a declaration that Comfort Cabs and the three respondent franchise owners were one common employer for the purpose of collective bargaining. The Union also claimed the respondent franchise owners violated a statutory freeze imposed by the Saskatchewan Employment Act by providing lease agreements without first negotiating the terms of those agreements with the Union. The Board found that the leases were not properly subject to the collective agreement negotiation process. It also found that the three franchises should not be declared one employer with Comfort Cabs as the prerequisites for a common employer declaration had not been met. Specifically, the Board determined that the Union had not established any erosion of its bargaining rights. The Union’s application for judicial review was dismissed on the basis that the Board’s decision was reasonable.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. Comfort Cabs did not engage in an unfair labour practice by refusing to negotiate the terms and conditions of taxi plate leases while, at the same time, having lease operators sign new lease agreements with Comfort Cabs’ affiliated franchise owners. The terms and conditions of the taxi plate leases were distinguishable from the terms and conditions of the employment relationship between Comfort Cabs and its drivers. Furthermore, the certification order only applied to Comfort Cabs as an employer, and its taxi drivers. Franchise owners were not part of the order and the Union was not certified to represent the taxi drivers to negotiate terms of their relationship with franchise owners. With respect to the unfair labour practices application, there was no evidence that an erosion of the union’s collective bargaining rights was likely.

United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (United Steelworkers) v. Comfort Cabs Ltd., [2017] S.J. No. 234, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, P.A. Whitmore, G.R. Jackson and J.A. Ryan-Froslie JJ.A., June 15, 2017. TLD-July312017006