RCMP returns to court over unionization

Group of officers hope to organize, federal government fine with things as is
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 11/21/2011

A group of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers is heading back to the Ontario Court of Appeal to argue for the right to unionize and engage in collective bargaining.

An order-in-council passed in 1918 in the federal cabinet has prevented the formation of an RCMP union for almost 100 years. The order calls for the dismissal of any member attempting to associate. It was feared that officers might have difficulty between their loyalty to their fellow officers and obedience to senior officers.

In 2009, the ban was struck down as unconstitutional by an Ontario Superior Court judge. The ruling would have allowed associations in B.C. and Ontario – now merged as the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada (MPPAC) – to take steps toward negotiating a collective agreement with the federal government. However, the federal government fought that ruling in the Ontario Court of Appeal, which granted a temporary delay for the federal government.

On Nov. 22, both parties will head back to court to resume arguments.

In 1974, a “staff relations representative program” was introduced to the force to allow members to come forward with their concerns. In written materials filed with the court, a lawyer representing the Attorney General of Canada says this program meets the legal requirements for negotiations.

The MPPAC disagrees with this argument, though, saying the program doesn’t required RCMP management to bargain at all, nor require them to do so in good faith.

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