Earlier this week, the Alberta Labour Relations Board released their most recent New Applications Report. In the report is a new application for union certification in Alberta.
The application was submitted on 7 July 2022 by Lodge 146 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers, otherwise known as The Boilermakers. They’re applying for union certification for a group of 45 workers employed by Alberta Exchanger Ltd.
Alberta Exchanger Ltd. is an Edmonton-based manufacturing firm that specializes in fabrication, repair, refurbishment, and field service of pressure equipment.
According to their current articles of agreement, this Boilermakers lodge already represents “all [Alberta Exchanger] production and maintenance employees in the performance of all fabrication and repair work in the employer’s shop”.
The application filed by the Boilermakers is specifically for “all maintenance boilermakers”, which is kind of confusing, so I reached out to Casey Worden, an organizer with the Boilermakers, to clarify.
According to Worden, the current union agreement between Boilermakers and Alberta Exchanger is a voluntary recognition. That means that the employer voluntarily recognizes the Boilermakers as the legitimate representatives for their employees.
And while that setup currently works for the two parties, that could change should the company ever change hands.
Worden, who has converted around 20 voluntary recognition agreements to certified ones over the last four years, told me that voluntary recognition agreements preserve bargaining rights for only 6 months. Certification, on the other hand, preserves them for 2 years.
So, basically, certifying the union through the ALRB is another of level of protection for unionized workers.
The ALRB has plans to hold a hearing for this application on 21 July 2022.
Boilermakers Lodge 146 was recently in the news after another Edmonton-based employer, Cessco Fabrication and Engineering Ltd., ended the two-year lockout they had forced on their workers at the start of the pandemic.