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NEWS RELEASE: NDP Government Must Listen to Panel, Employers and Public and Protect the Secret Ballot: ICBA

BURNABY – A significant swath of associations representing B.C.’s job creators and employers – including the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) – called on the NDP government today to protect workers’ right to a secret ballot in unionization votes.

The 13 groups made the call in a 22-page submission to government, following up on the recommendations of the BC Labour Relations Code Review Panel.

“There is no more fundamental democratic value than the right to a secret ballot, and workers should have that right when they are deciding if they should join a union,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “The current system, which uses a secret ballot and was upheld by the NDP’s own review panel, ensures that neither employers nor unions can coerce workers one way or the other. Certification votes are fair and transparent and they are supervised by a neutral referee, the Labour Relations Board.”

Earlier this spring, 13 groups made a joint submission to the BC Labour Relations Code Review Panel, calling on government to protect the secret ballot, and several other labour code measures. The panel issued its draft report, which recommended keeping the secret ballot.

But the NDP’s allies in the traditional union hierarchy chafed against that recommendation, demanding more “consultation” with the government. Today’s submission from 13 business groups lays out the other side of the story on the labour code.

“In construction, only a small portion of workers – less than 15 per cent – have decided to affiliate themselves with traditional building trades unions. The rest are organized by progressive unions, employee associations or are open shop,” said Gardner. “The NDP and their traditional union allies have been desperate to stop this evolution by forcing workers to join their 19 favoured unions on taxpayer-funded construction projects like the Pattullo Bridge, and by stripping their democratic right to a secret ballot.”

Polling done for one media outlet shows that 79% of British Columbians support the secret ballot. Even among households with a private sector union member living in it, nearly three-quarters support secret ballots.

“The public knows that forcing unionization and stripping the democratic right to a secret ballot is wrong and unfair,” said Gardner. “It’s time for the NDP government to abandon this outdated approach to labour relations and protect this basic worker right.”

The joint submission was filed yesterday, and was signed by ICBA as well as the BC Chamber of Commerce, BC Hotels Association, BC Trucking Association, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Canadian Franchise Association, Canadian Home Builders Association, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Restaurants Canada, Retail Council of Canada, Urban Development Institute, and Vancouver Regional Construction Association. Read the full submission HERE.

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About the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association

ICBA represents more than 2,100 members and clients in construction and responsible resource development and is one of the leading third-party providers of group health and retirement benefits in B.C. ICBA trains more than 3,500 workers every year and is the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in the province. www.icba.ca

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