Alberta OEM employees vote to keep CLAC representation

Seven-year dispute over company ownership finished for 400 employees
||Last Updated: 06/17/2011

Alberta workers at an engine and powertrain component remanufacturing company have settled a seven-year labour dispute. The workers have chosen the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC), Local 56 to continue to represent them over the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), Lodge 99.

In 2004, Finning International Inc. laid off approximately 160 IAM unionized employees, and transferred work to OEM Remanufacturing, a company created by Finning International years earlier. Workers at OEM were represented by CLAC at the time. In 2005, when the workers from Finning moved to OEM, IAM filed for successor rights under Section 46 of the Labour Relations Code.

At that time, the Alberta Labour Relations Board (ALRB) ruled that OEM and Finning were "common employers," but decided to forgo the traditional remedy of automatic certification, and instead ordered a "run-off" vote. IAM appealed that decision.

In June 2005, an ALRB Reconsideration Panel overturned the Board’s original decision, arguing that Finning and OEM were not common employers. A year later, the Court of Queen's Bench upheld the Reconsideration Panel’s decision after it was appealed by the IAM.

In 2007, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the Reconsideration Panel’s decision, calling it "patently unreasonable" that the two companies were separate entities. In 2008, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld this decision.

In Dec. 2008, IAW filed a further complaint against OEM and CLAC alleging that their early negotiation of the 2008-2011 renewal agreement violated the Labour Relations Code. This complaint delayed a representation vote.

In January 2011, the ALRB called for a 100-day campaign and vote for the employees to choose between the unions. This was unique, according to CLAC, because most Board votes allow for a two-week campaign.

The final vote took place at the beginning of June and the results were 268 for CLAC and 192 for the IAM. In a release, CLAC said that 100 ballots were disputed which delayed the results until earlier this week.

“This was the longest campaign I have ever been involved with,” says Alberta CLAC representative Derek Schreiber. “We have over 400 members working at OEM. We’re pleased they’ve given us the privilege of continuing to represent them.”

A message on the IAM’s website said that it was “with great sadness” that the IAM learned it was not the union chosen to represent OEM workers.

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