Union / Labour
Union / Labour Services
Duty of Fair Representation
The Duty of Fair Representation (“DFR”) refers to a trade union’s obligation to provide fair representation to its membership. What a union is obligated to do depends on the facts specific to each case, but generally involves reasonable competence and good faith. If a union fails to meet its DFR, a union member can make a complaint to the relevant labour board and can seek an order forcing the union to do things such as take a grievance forward and pay damages to the union member.
Other Labour Matters
Our lawyers have some general experience in labour matters such as collective agreement interpretation, collective bargaining, advising unions and negotiating with unions and/or employers on behalf of unionized employees.
Timelines can be quite short in Labour Law matters. For example:
- Typically a grievance must be filed within a week or two of when the facts giving rise to the grievance were known or ought to have been known by the grievor;
- Typically, the timeline for filing a Duty of Fair Representation complaint against a union is just ninety (90) days from when you knew or ought to have known of the facts giving rise to the DFR. So, if your union drops the ball or fails you in some way, your time to file a complaint or get legal counsel is very short.
Union / Labour FAQ
As a unionized employee, can I sue my employer directly or do I have to go through the union?
Unionized employees usually have to go through the union and cannot sue their employers directly. Sometimes they can sue the employer directly where the collective agreement does not cover the issue or for human rights / discrimination matters.
What can I do if my union refuses to file a grievance for me?
If your union refuses to file a grievance for you, you may be able to file a Duty of Fair Representation complaint within 90 days or to appeal your union’s decision not to grieve.
My union stopped my grievance at Step 2 and won’t go to arbitration. Is there anything I can do?
If your union stopped your grievance at Step 2 and won’t go to arbitration, you may be able to file a Duty of Fair Representation complaint within 90 days or to appeal your union’s decision to stop your grievance.
How do I file a Duty of Fair Representation Complaint against my union?
We can help you draft and file a duty of fair representation complaint against your union. Some public information is available at the Alberta Labour Relations Board.