Freedom of association enjoyed by individuals, not unions: Court

Union challenged finding that employer was a non-construction employer, preventing them from representing the employees
By Ashley Brown
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 10/31/2012

A recent decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal provides reassuring news for employers about the scope of the right to freedom of association under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And this scope may not extend as far as some might think.

In Independent Electricity System Operator v. C.U.S.W. (I.E.S.O.), Ontario’s Highest Court confirmed the charter does not extend to guarantee employees work, nor does it operate to assure trade unions of their preferred collective bargaining regime.

The central issue before the Court of Appeal was the constitutional validity of section 127.2 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act. The section permits an employer that does not actively carry on business in the construction industry for profit, but that avails itself of construction industry services, to bring an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board for a declaration it is a “non-construction employer.”