Labour Relations - Revocation

Table of contents

    The Board can revoke a union’s certification. 

    Certification is an order from the Board that recognizes a union as an exclusive bargaining agent for a defined group of employees (bargaining unit). Please see our page on the certification process for more information.

    If employees no longer wish to be represented by a union, they can ask the Canada Industrial Relations Board to remove the union. This is called a “revocation application.”

    The Board can declare that a union no longer has the right to represent the employees in the bargaining unit, even if there is no certification order. This happens when the employer voluntarily recognizes the union as the bargaining agent. 

    Who can file a revocation application?

    • An employee who is a member of a bargaining unit can file a revocation application to revoke the union’s bargaining rights.
    • If you apply to revoke your union’s bargaining rights, you must represent a majority of the affected bargaining unit’s employees. This means that you must have the support of more than 50 percent of the employees in the bargaining unit.
    • Your position must be within the scope of the bargaining unit. This means that your position must be one that is included in the bargaining unit described in the certification order or described in the collective agreement, and not one that is excluded from the unit.
    • If there is more than one bargaining unit or more than one union in your workplace, you are only permitted to apply to revoke the bargaining rights of the bargaining agent for your bargaining unit.
    • You cannot file or participate at all in a revocation application if you hold a managerial position.
    • When you apply for revocation, you are considered the “applicant.”

    What does revocation mean for a union?

    • The Board issues a certification order to certify a union as the bargaining agent for the employees of a bargaining unit.
    • Revoking the union’s certification means that the employees in that bargaining unit will no longer be represented by the union.
    • In the case of a voluntarily recognized union, the Board will declare that the union can no longer represent the employees in the bargaining unit.
    • This will end the collective bargaining relationship between the union and the employer.

    How does an employee or a group of employees apply for revocation?

    • It is strongly recommended that you use the Application for Revocation form. The form contains the information that the Board needs to make a decision, and helps you make sure that the information that you are filing is complete.
    • If you do not file all of the information that the Board needs, it will take the Board longer to process your application. 
    • In some cases, not filing all of the information that the Board needs can result in your application being dismissed without the opportunity to make any further submissions.
    • All documents, including applications and all supporting documents are filed using the Board’s E-filing Web Portal. This is the fastest and most accurate way to file documents with the Board.  
    • You do not need to send the Board a paper copy of documents that have been e-filed with the Board. If you need assistance with the E-Filing Web Portal, you can contact the Board directly using its 1-800 line or online inquiry form. The Board’s contact information can be found here.   
    • You must show that a majority of the employees in the bargaining unit support the revocation application.

    How can an applicant show that employees support the revocation application?

    • You must provide evidence that more than 50 percent of the employees in the bargaining unit no longer want the union to represent them.
    • You can do this by filing individual confidential statements, signed by each employee that you represent, with the Board.
    • Each employee must have signed their statement less than six months before the date that the revocation application is filed.
    • The individual confidential statements filed in support of a revocation application must clearly indicate the employee’s wish to have the union’s bargaining rights revoked and must include the name of the union that is affected by the revocation application.
    • Each statement should also indicate that the employee authorizes the applicant, by name, to act on their behalf in the revocation application.
    • The Board will not accept a list of signatures on one sheet of paper as evidence of employees’ wishes.  Each employee must sign an individual document. 
    • Applicants are not allowed to collect employees’ confidential statements on company time or at the work site.

    What must be included with the revocation application?

    • With your revocation application, you must include the following:
      • the Application for Revocation form, with all the information requested in the form;
      • the confidential employee statements in support of the application, including an authorization for the applicant to act on the employee’s behalf; 
        • The Board will accept electronic versions of this information, but the paper versions should be kept, as the Board may request to see the originals.
      • a completed Certificate of Accuracy, which is included in the Application for Revocation form, verifying that the applicant has followed the proper process to obtain the confidential statements and that the evidence is genuine.
    • Your application will be considered to have been filed with the Board on the day that the Board receives all these documents.
    • Failure to submit the required documents with the application may result in the Board rejecting the application. 
    • To help reach a decision on a revocation application, the Board may communicate with some of the employees who filed confidential statements to make sure that they gave their support for the application freely and voluntarily.

    When can employees apply for revocation?

    • The Canada Labour Code has very specific rules about when you can file a revocation application.
    • The rules are different depending on whether a collective agreement is in place. The rules are also different depending on whether the union is certified or voluntarily recognized. A legal strike or lockout also impacts when an application can be filed.
    • The following applies when there is no collective agreement:
      • A revocation application can be filed if it has been more than a year since the Board certified the union as the bargaining agent. However, if the union can show that it has made reasonable efforts to enter into a collective bargaining agreement during that time, the Board will not revoke the certification.
      • Therefore, in your application, you must clearly demonstrate that the certified union has not made reasonable efforts to enter into a collective agreement with the employer.
      • If the employer has voluntarily recognized a union that is not certified by the Board, a revocation application can be filed at any time before a collective agreement is signed or during the first year of the term of a collective agreement.
      • After the first year, the rules for revocation of a certification when a collective agreement is in force apply.
    • The following applies when a collective agreement is in force:
      • If the length of the collective agreement is three years or less, a revocation application can be filed during the last three months of the collective agreement or at any time after that until a new collective agreement is in place.
      • If the length of the collective agreement is more than three years, a revocation application can be filed during the last three months of the third year or during the last three months of any year after until the collective agreement ends. Once the collective agreement expires, a revocation application can be made at any time up until a new collective agreement is in place.
    • A revocation application cannot be filed during a legal strike or lockout, except in very limited circumstances and with the Board’s consent. 

    What happens after the revocation application has been filed?

    • The revocation process usually includes the following steps: 
      1. The Board sends out a Notice of Application to the union, the employees, and the employer.
      2. The employer provides certain requested information.
      3. The union and the employer may respond to the application.
      4. The applicant replies to the union’s and the employer’s responses.
      5. The Board investigates.
      6. A panel of the Board decides on the revocation application.

    What is a Notice of Application?

    • A Notice of Application acknowledges receipt of the application and includes:
      • a schedule setting out the timelines for how the matter will proceed;
        • This includes the time limits for filing documents.
      • a copy of the application (except for the confidential statements); and
      • a Notice to Employees and the Certificate of Posting.
        • The Notice to Employees must be posted in the workplace for 15 calendar days.  The employer must complete and return the Certificate of Posting to the Board.

    What is the timeline for the revocation process?

    • The Board tries to process revocation applications within 30 calendar days of the date that they are filed.
    • After receiving a Notice of Application, the employer must immediately post the Notice to Employees in the workplace for 15 calendar days.
    • The employer will also have 5 calendar days to provide information to the Board, including a list of employees in the bargaining unit and the completed Certificate of Posting.
    • Both the union and the employer will have 10 calendar days after receiving the Notice of Application to file a response to the application with the Board.
    • After the union, and, if it wishes to, the employer, have filed their responses, the applicant will have 5 calendar days to file a reply and any comments on the list of employees provided by the employer.

    Can the time limits be extended?

    • It is not the Board’s practice to grant extensions of the time limits for submitting information or for filing responses and replies, except in exceptional circumstances.
    • This helps ensure the timely processing of revocation applications.

    What is the employer’s role in a revocation application?

    • After receiving a Notice of Application for revocation, the employer has certain obligations.
    • The employer must post the Notice to Employees in the workplace for 15 calendar days and complete and return the Certificate of Posting to the Board. 
    • The employer must also provide the Board with:
      • an alphabetical list of all employees in the bargaining unit;
        • The list must be up to date as of the date the application was filed with the Board.
        • The list must also identify which employees are managers or supervisors and any employees who work on a casual or part-time basis.  
        • The list must include each employee’s:
          • full name;
          • job classification or position title;
          • home address; and
          • telephone number.
        • This information is only for the Board and will not be shared with the applicant or the union.
      • a second alphabetical list showing the same information as above, but without addresses and telephone numbers (this list will be shared with the applicant and the union); 
      • if requested, a record of the weekly hours worked by any casual or part-time employee for the three-month period before the application was filed; and
      • an organizational chart showing the relationship of the employees in the bargaining unit with other employees.
        • The chart must be up to date as of the date that it is filed.
        • The chart must also show the lines of authority between managers, supervisors, and other employees.
    • The employer is prohibited from interfering in a revocation application.
      • The Board may look at whether there was any involvement by the employer in the revocation application that would raise questions as to whether the employees’ support for the application was given voluntarily or whether there was pressure from the employer.
      • If it appears that there was interference by the employer, the Board could invalidate the confidential statements signed by the employees and dismiss the revocation application.
      • For example, if it is proven that the employer offered a reward or benefit to employees who supported the revocation application, or if it is found that the employer threatened an employee for not supporting the application, the Board will likely dismiss the application.
    • The Board does not require a response from the employer, but the employer is allowed to provide one.

    How does the Board investigate an application?

    • The Board will appoint an Industrial Relations Officer (IRO) to complete an investigation and oversee the file. The IRO is responsible for helping the parties with the process before the Board and ensuring that they submit the information that the Board requires. 
    • The IRO will contact the parties to review the following issues:
      • the information required at various stages of the revocation process; 
      • the dates for filing this information; and
      • any issue that could arise during the conduct of the matter.
    • The IRO may contact employees to verify the validity of their confidential statements.
    • The IRO may meet with the parties to attempt to resolve any disagreements between the parties about the employee list(s).
    • Following their investigation, the IRO will provide the parties with a letter setting out the IRO’s understanding of the affected bargaining unit and the issues in dispute between the parties. The IRO will also provide the parties with a list of the documents that have been submitted to the Board.
    • Parties are asked to provide their comments on the IRO’s letter within 24 hours of receiving it.
    • The IRO may also help the parties come to an agreement and settle all or part of the application.
    • The IRO will submit a separate confidential report to the Board setting out the wishes of the employees. All information related to employees’ wishes is kept confidential and is not disclosed to the parties.

    What is the Board’s role after the investigation?

    • After the investigation, the Board will review the application. The Board may:
      • request additional information or submissions from the parties; 
      • order that a representation vote be conducted; 
      • schedule a hearing; or
      • grant or dismiss the application.

    Will there be a hearing?

    • Not necessarily. In many cases, the Board can make a decision based on the documents on file, without holding a hearing. This is part of the reason why written submissions should be as complete as possible. This is true even if the parties request an oral hearing. 
    • If the Board decides to hold a hearing, it will advise the parties of the date, time, and location in advance, usually after having consulted the parties during a Case Management Conference. 
    • For more information on the Board’s hearing process, please click here.

    Will there be a vote?

    • If the Board’s investigation confirms that a majority of the employees included in the bargaining unit on the date of the filing of the revocation application support the application, the Board will usually order a representation vote to determine whether the union will continue to represent the employees.
    • The Board will designate a Returning Officer to conduct the representation vote. The Returning Officer is usually the Industrial Relations Officer who conducted the investigation.
    • The Returning Officer will make the necessary arrangements with the parties for the conduct of the vote and will require the employer to post a Notice of Vote and a list of voters in the workplace.

    Is the revocation process public?

    • Documents provided to the Board will be placed in a file that is available to the public.
    • The confidential statements of the employees are not placed in the public file and are not disclosed to the union or the employer.
    • The following documents are also not disclosed or provided to the other parties:
      • the alphabetical list prepared by the employer containing employees’ home addresses and telephone numbers;
      • the completed Certificate of Posting; 
      • the completed Certificate of Accuracy; 
      • any document that could reveal the wishes of the employees; and 
      • any other information that the Board decides is confidential.