Certification, Revocation of Certification and Successor Rights

Certification is the process whereby an employee organization is recognized by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) to represent a group of employees in their staff relations with their employer. Certification is granted for a specific bargaining unit, which generally corresponds to a group of positions within the employer's classification system.

Certification is granted when an employee organization that has applied for it is able to demonstrate that the majority of the employees within the bargaining unit wishes to be represented by it. This is achieved by having the employees in the bargaining unit participate in a secret ballot vote. The vote is administered by FPSLREB staff.

When the FPSLREB is satisfied that the majority of employees in a bargaining unit wishes to be represented by the employee organization that is applying for certification, the FPSLREB certifies the union and issues a certificate to that effect. Once it has been certified by the FPSLREB, the union obtains the right to bargain collectively on behalf of the employees included in the bargaining unit and thereby becomes their bargaining agent. In that capacity, it must choose the dispute resolution mechanism - either arbitration or conciliation/strike - that will apply in the event of an impasse at the bargaining table.

Certification also entails a duty of fair and equitable representation of the employees in question.

Certification is granted for an indeterminate period and is valid until another employee organization is certified by the FPSLREB and takes the place of the certified union or until certification is revoked by the FPSLREB upon application. A new certification application or an application for revocation of an existing certification can be filed with the FPSLREB only at certain times, that is, within two months of the date on which the collective agreement or arbitral award expires. Anyone who represents a majority of employees that no longer wishes to be represented by the certified union can apply for revocation of certification. As of June 16, 2015, the request for revocation can be made by anyone claiming to represent at least 40% of the employees. If the FPSLREB is satisfied that at least 40% of the employees no longer wish to be represented by the certified union, a representation vote is taken and if a majority supports this position, the FPSLREB must revoke the certification. Revocation can also be granted for abandonment or for fraud.

The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act also provides for successor rights, that is, the transfer of the rights and obligations associated with certification, in certain circumstances. For example, if a department or a portion of a department or agency becomes a separate agency or becomes a part of an existing separate agency, the union's representation rights are protected and the collective agreements continue to apply to the employees who will be transferred to their new employer. The FPSLREB may be called upon to render orders to ensure that these transitions take place in an orderly manner. Under certain clauses of the Canada Labour Code, union rights and collective agreements continue to apply when a department or a portion of a department or agency becomes subject to the Code after becoming a federal Crown corporation or federal private sector employer.