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LIUNA OPDC v. Ramkey Communications Inc.

March 23, 2017

OLRB confirms construction work on telecommunications networks falls within provincial jurisdiction

LIUNA OPDC filed an application for certification under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, 1995 to represent employees employed by Ramkey Communications Inc.  Ramkey opposed certification on the basis that it was “engaged, either directly or derivatively, in a federal work or undertaking” – namely telecommunications – and was therefore federally regulated.

The work of the employees was unquestionably construction work, and Ramkey did not own or have an interest in any telecommunications networks. However, Ramkey maintained that its business fell within federal jurisdiction because it was either a telecommunications contractor in the cable installation and service business, or a vital, essential or integral part of telecommunications.

The Board rejected Ramkey’s arguments. It noted that labour relations are presumptively a matter of provincial jurisdiction. At best, Ramkey only “derivatively” came into federal jurisdiction.

… [I]nfrastructure (essentially what Ramkey builds or repairs for Rogers) is infrastructure and building it – whether a pipeline, railroad or telecommunications network, or a runway at an airport – is still construction.

The Board therefore certified LIUNA OPDC as bargaining agent. An application for reconsideration was also denied

Lawyers

Lorne Richmond, Ben Katz

Practice Areas

Construction Labour Relations