Dalhousie Law Journal


James E. Dorsey


Appropriate Bargaining Units, Employer's Familial Relations, Canadian labour relations, mutuality of employment interests, exclusive agent.


The policy of Canadian labour relations legislation encourages employees who have a mutuality of employment interests to bargain with their employer through a trade union, selected by them to act as their exclusive agent. To encourage orderly bargaining, labour relations boards, when determining that a trade union has been chosen by a majority of employees, group an employer's employees into units that it considers to be appropriate for bargaining. 1 There are, however, employees who are caught between a policy favouring group bargaining and the rationale that demands exclusion from the group of managerial and confidential employees. These employees are the familial relations of management. Their twofold relationship with management, familial and employment, places them in unique circumstances. The assumption that would normally accompany their employment status is that their interests are allied with their fellow employees. The assumption founded on their familial relationship may be that their interests are allied with management. The conflict of these assumptions poses a problem for labour relations boards in determining whether they are appropriate for inclusion in a bargaining unit.2 The problem is most significant when the familial employee occupies the pivotal point in determining whether a certification application will be granted or denied.