BC Labour Board Rules Email Addresses Must Be Provided

May 11, 2012, 9:15 AM EST

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CAW Local 114 was involved in a significant victory on a recent reconsideration case at the BC Labour Relations Board involving Viking Air.

At issue was whether or not a provincially regulated employer was required to turn over email addresses in its possession to the union upon request and whether or not this right was inherent in the BC Labour Relations Code. The union argued the email addresses were critical to efficient communication with its membership.

The CAW filed the complaint against Viking Air when it moved to a paperless pay stub system and required all employees to provide an email address for this purpose. The CAW took the position that the union should be on an equal footing with the employer with respect to employee contact information.

The CAW filed an appeal of the original Viking Air decision and approached BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair to put the word out to other unions to join in fighting on this important issue, said CAW National Representative Gavin McGarrigle.

UFCW Local 1518 intervened and filed a brief in support of the CAW application with the BC Labour Relations Board.

The BC Labour Relations Board issued its reconsideration decision on April 25, 2012, overturning the original decision and ruling unanimously in favour of the union.

As a result, all provincially regulated employer's in BC must now provide not only names, addresses and phone numbers to any union upon request, but also must also provide email addresses of members if it collects them, as long as the information can be easily supplied and the employer does not have a sound business reason to refuse to provide the information, said McGarrigle.

"This decision is one of the first in Canada to deal explicitly with the issue of email addresses," McGarrigle said. "We believe this decision is a major step forward into the twenty-first century in the labour movement's ability to represent and communicate with our members using modern technology."

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