The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) condemned the NDP Government’s announcement today that they will strip workers of the democratic right to a secret ballot in union certification votes.

NDP Labour Minister Harry Bains announced this afternoon that he intends to amend the Labour Relations Code to scrap the secret ballot – the fair and democratic way in which workers decide how to organize themselves. Instead, Bains will institute card check, a system that exposes workers to coercion and pressure.

“The secret ballot is a fundamental democratic right and the NDP have just ripped it away from every worker in this province,” said Chris Gardner, ICBA President. “Not only is the secret ballot the cornerstone of our democracy, but without it, certification votes are open to all sorts of abuse.”

In scrapping the secret ballot, the NDP Government is ignoring its own Labour Relations Code Review Panel, which found in 2018 that: “The secret ballot vote is the most consistent with our democratic norms, protects the fundamental right of freedom of association and choice, and is preferred.”

“The secret ballot is the best method to conduct union certification votes, because it allows both sides to present their case, and the process is carefully monitored for fairness by the independent Labour Relations Board,” said Gardner. “What the NDP has done today is heavily tilt the playing field – this is nothing more than a special deal for special interests at the expense of a worker’s right to make their own decision and express it freely and privately through a secret ballot.”

Secret ballots for union certification are the norm in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland – and most Ontario cases. For 30 of the past 38 years, B.C. has operated under the secret ballot system.

“We don’t choose our Prime Ministers, Premiers, Mayors, or the winners of Canadian Idol for that matter, by a show of hands – we give every citizen the right to express their choice freely in the privacy of a voting booth,” said Gardner. “The right to privacy and a fair process governs almost everything we vote for. Taking away the secret ballot is a major step backwards for B.C., an attack on our democracy, and an erosion of a hard won worker’s right.”

For a full backgrounder on how the NDP’s card check plan erodes workers’ rights, and why the secret ballot is so important to the certification process, click HERE.

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ICBA represents more than 3,500 members and client companies in construction and responsible resource development, directly trains more than 5,000 workers every year, and is the single largest sponsor of trades apprentices in B.C. ICBA is also one of the leading third-party providers of group health and retirement benefits in Canada, with more than 125,000 people relying on an ICBA Benefits plan. Approximately 10 per cent of ICBA’s membership employ a unionized workforce.