Charter ruling challenges protection of bargaining

Farm workers denied union representation; employers enjoined to bargain in good faith
By Danielle Harder
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 07/18/2011

The constitutional right to collective bargaining that many thought was guaranteed through several previous Canadian court rulings, most notably B.C. Health Services, is now in doubt following a landmark Supreme Court of Canada decision.

The SCC ruled last week that an Ontario law restricting the right of farm workers to bargain collectively is constitutional. The Court said the Agricultural Employees Protection Act (AEPA) provides them with a “meaningful” process to come together as a group to negotiate with employers, even if that process is not in the form of collective bargaining.

The decision is a harsh blow to the union movement which has long argued the Act was unconstitutional because farm workers do not have the same collective bargaining rights as other employees in the province.