Unionization (Certification) & De-Unionization (Decertification) Matters


A fundamental change to the employer-employee relationship happens when there is a certification of a union as the exclusive bargaining agent for employees at the workplace. Once an employer receives an application for certification from the workforce, both the union and employer’s next steps can become crucial.

In most Canadian jurisdictions, depending on the nature of the industry, certification of a union can occur by either submitting a sufficient number of membership cards to the labour relations board or by winning a representation election. In Ontario (with the exception of the construction sector), a representation election is mandatory, although the process can be relatively expedited.

Once an employer has received an application for certification, they have very short deadlines to respond. In the cases where the employer fails to respond, in Ontario, the Labour Relations Board will consider the application for certification based only on the union’s filings. The decision made by the Board will bind the employer, regardless of their absence in the process.

A unionized employer no longer has the ability to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment individually with their employees. Rather, the terms and conditions are provided through a binding contract between the employer and union, known as the collective agreement [link to collective agreement].

Once a union is certified, then the collective bargaining phase starts. This phase must be done in “good faith” to ensure that there are genuine negotiations to create a collective agreement.



Similar to certification, in Ontario the Labour Relations Board may cancel a certification at any time, given that certain circumstances are met. A de-certification occurs where the majority of employees no longer support the union, or in circumstances where they do not want the union to represent them anymore. Where it is shown that the union has in fact lost the support of the employees, then in these cases it may become possible to decertify the union under certain conditions.

An application for decertification of a union cannot be brought until certain statute-mandated timelines and conditions are met.

During the de-certification process, it is important that employers do not interfere with the procedure.

Employers are not allowed to initiate or assist employees in a decertification application.

Where there is improper interference by an employer or another person, a board can refuse to count a vote and dismiss the application for the decertification of a union. Similarly, when a group of employees seeks to organize, and the employer interferes, in Ontario, the Labour Relations Board has the power to certify the workplace without the vote taking place.

How can Zeilikman Law help?

As experienced labour lawyers, we can provide guidance and legal advice during difficult circumstances to try to avoid a duty of fair representation application being brought. Our experienced lawyers are also able to provide the legal advice and guidance that is needed during the process when a duty of fair representation application is made.

At Zeilikman law, we understand the difficulties that can arise throughout the complex process, from when an application is being filed to the full hearing if necessary.

Call us at 905-417-2227 to get started!

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.