Contract talks for a new collective agreement with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency resumed February 6.
While it is important that information on bargaining reach our members in a timely manner, the collective agreement is very specific as to what union information may be displayed in the workplace.
The article in question reads as follows:
Reasonable space on bulletin boards in convenient locations will be made available to the Union for the posting of official Union notices. The Union shall endeavour to avoid requests for posting of notices which the Employer, acting reasonably, could consider adverse to its interests or to the interests of any of its representatives. Posting of notices or other materials shall require the prior approval of the Employer, except notices related to the business affairs of the Union, including the names of Union representatives, and social and recreational events. Such approval shall not be unreasonably withheld.
There have been instances where some managers have taken this to mean they have an effective veto on union communication – the right to approve all union information before it is posted in designated spaces such as bulletin boards.
The Agriculture Union and management both agree that common sense should apply in interpreting Article 11.01.
First of all, Locals do have the right to post notices on union business in designated spaces. The caveat is that such materials cannot be seen as ‘adverse to the interests’ of the employer.
Locals should remind managers who attempt to remove legitimate union notices or information that this is a violation of the collective agreement. Grievances should be filed where management continues to remove these notices or tries to discipline members for posting legitimate notices.
It is also clear that information can be freely shared amongst workers inside the workplace. However, information regarding strike training or strike meetings should be dissimilated by word of mouth or through personal e-mail accounts, and not through the employer’s e-mail or posted on bulletin boards.
Similarly, management permission is required to hold a union meeting on the employer’s premises. Where permission cannot be secured, a meeting must be held off-site.
Finally, we are often asked whether members can legally wear union buttons or stickers, say in support of our bargaining team. While these cannot be worn on official CFIA uniforms, the union has won labour board decisions permitting such materials to be displayed on your person or on such personal protective equipment as hard hats.