Labour Law

Trade unions and professional employees’ associations in the public and private sectors face an increasingly complex legal environment with an array of laws at the federal and provincial level. For over thirty years our labour lawyers have helped shape the field of labour law through their innovative approach to labour board, grievance arbitration and interest arbitration issues. 

Our approach is to maximize opportunities to engage in dispute resolution and, if a hearing is necessary, to conduct it in the manner most likely to produce excellent results in a cost effective and timely manner.

We provide advice and representation to trade unions in the following areas: 

  • all Labour Board matters at the federal and provincial level, including certification applications, related/successor employer applications, unfair labour practice complaints, interim applications, first contract arbitration applications, unlawful strike or picketing applications, PSLTRA applications, jurisdictional disputes, Occupational Health and Safety appeals, and duty of fair representation complaints;
  • all aspects of grievance arbitration, including consensual mediation-arbitration; 
  • all aspects of interest arbitration, including both providing advice and presenting at interest arbitration process for unions, as well as  sitting as union nominees on interest arbitration boards;
  • employment benefits including employment standards, workers’ compensation, occupational health and safety, pensions, disability issues, benefits, and employment insurance; 
  • workplace policies and procedures on all matters, including workplace harassment and violence, attendance management, accommodation, workplace rules and alcohol and drug policies;
  • human rights, pay and employment equity issues, Charter litigation; 
  • education of stewards, union representatives, advice and co-counsel work with in house counsel; 
  • collective bargaining; and
  • strategic advice on labour legislation amendments and policy.

Recent notable representations include:

  • National Grocers Co. Ltd. v United Food and Commercial Workers Union, a grievance arbitration in which the UFCW alleged that National Grocers had violated the Employment Standards Act, 200 ("ESA") by failing to pay overtime wages. The arbitrator agreed that the members were presumptively entitled to overtime under the ESA for hours worked in excess of 44 hours a week, and National Grocers failed to rebut this presumption or establish an applicable exemption.
  • St. Michael's Hospital v Ontario Nurses' Association, a grievance arbitration considering a challenge to Toronto-area hospitals' "Vaccinate or Mask" policy.Arbitrator Kaplan agreed with ONA that the policy was not supported by sufficient scientific evidence, and that the "'ask' that [health care workers] wear a mask for their entire shift for possibly months on end when entirely free of symptoms is completely unreasonable and is contrary to the collective agreement".
  • Labourers’ International Union of North America, Local 837 v. Cotton Inc., an application for remedial certification under the Labour Relations Act in connection with an organizing drive in 2014. In a rare decision, the Ontario Labour Relations Board granted remedial certification, finding that the employer had violated the Act by cancelling a primary organizer's shift and then terminating his employment during the organizing drive. The Board found that these acts were intended to disrupt the organizing drive and grounded in anti-union animus, which warranted remedial certification.
  • Canada Post Corporation v Canadian Union of Postal Workers, a grievance arbitration challenging the termination of a temporary employee's employment for purportedly being unreasonably unavailable for work assignments. Arbitrator Shime reinstated the employee, ruling that the collective agreement required workers to have reasonable availability for work assignment, but did not require, as Canada Post argued, a certain acceptance rate. The decision was upheld on judicial review.

Related Cases

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Humber River Hospital v Ontario Nurses’ Association, 2018 CanLII 115718 (ON LA)
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