Union wins award against employer that denied Union Rep access

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March 2, 2018

In December 2016, the Union filed a grievance when the John Howard Society of Waterloo-Wellington (the employer) tried to limit the Union Rep’s access to the facility.

Access and visibility of the Union Rep in the workplace is essential.

When Union Reps have reasonable and regular access to the Membership, it helps cut down the number of grievances and deals with problems as they arise. Workplace visits are the best opportunity for Union Reps to:

  • Discuss issues;
  • Inform the Members of their rights, and;
  • Enforce the collective agreement.

The Union Rep had advised the employer that they would be in the facility on a specific day. The purpose of the visit was to service and extend a Happy Holiday message to the Union Members. The employer denied access to the Union Rep because it did not accept the reasons for the visit as legitimate Union business. Over multiple meetings, the Union sat down with the employer to try and resolve the grievance prior to arbitration, with no success.

Arbitrator Marcotte upheld the Union’s grievance and did not accept the company’s argument: That the Union ‘can meet after hours with the members, but not during working hours.’ In the decision, dated February 5, 2018, Arbitrator Marcotte stated:

“…I find the Employer breached art. 7.09 of the collective agreement when it denied the Union representative’s planned workplace visit on December 16, 2016. I find the purpose of the visit falls properly within the provisions of art. 7.09. I find the Employer’s decision to deny the Union access was unreasonably withheld.

The grievance, therefore, is upheld.”

The Canadian Labour Reporter published an article on this decision in February 2018.


Read more articles from the UFCW Local 175 Legal Team!