Update on Application to Labour Board to Form Single Bargaining Unit for New Housing Agency

In response to the Nova Scotia Provincial Housing Agency’s application that all members of the newly formed Agency should be consolidated into a single bargaining unit, the NSGEU, in collaboration with our partner unions, appeared before the Labour Board to have the Agency’s application dismissed. The hearing of the application occurred on October 10th, 11th, and 17th, 2023. The Unions argued that under the Trade Union Act, the onus is on the employer to show there is a significant problem with labour relations, so significant, that it requires the intervention of the Labour Board. The Unions’ position is that the Agency has not proven the current bargaining units are not sustainable, or that a single bargaining unit is required.

The evidence of the Unions showed that both under the previous regional authorities and over the past ten months with the new agency, there has been no disruption of operations because of the existence of separate bargaining units, no grievances filed relating to jurisdictional movement from one agency to another and no labour unrest.
The Unions argued that the reason for the creation of the new agency had nothing to do with labour relations. Rather it was intended to address inconsistent policies and service delivery across the province that was the responsibility of management.

The employer argued that there is a “convoluted labour relations structure” in the agency but failed to provide any concrete examples of real problems. It claimed that the existing bargaining structure is “harmful to client needs” and the existence of multiple Unions was a distraction.

The Employer has applied for one bargaining unit to include all employees, who would be covered by one collective agreement. All five unions are opposed to this and have argued that the application should be dismissed by the Board, as there was no evidence that maintaining the current structure will cause labour relations problems. The Board committed to try and have a decision as soon as reasonably possible.

In the interim, there is no change in the status quo. The NSGEU continues to be your bargaining agent and continues to represent you. Your respective collective agreements also continue to apply as they relate to your rights and benefits within your workplace. You are members of NSGEU, and we will continue to fight vigorously for that to continue.

If you have any questions, please contact your ERO Dustin Rioux at 902-424-4063.

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