The duty to bargain in good faith requires an employer to disclose relevant financial information if it rejects a union's wage proposal based on its inability to pay, says the BC Labour Relations Board.
According to the LRB, USW Local 1-3567 was entitled to access the employer's financial records in order to verify the employer's claim that it could not afford the union's wage proposal: "Where an employer has claimed that its financial situation affects its ability to pay, the Board has ruled that the employer has an obligation to provide the financial information to the union to allow it an opportunity to adopt an informed position in response.”
The Vice-Chair found that the financial information which the union sought was relevant to the employer's initial rejection of a wage increase and its later proposal for a wage reduction, since both positions were based on its alleged inability to pay. The company, Pacific Pallet, was ordered to disclose financial records (i.e., revenue, expenses, production costs, profits earned) which would enable the union to properly assess its inability to pay argument.
Bargaining with Pacific Pallet broke down and Local 1-3567 took a bitter 5-month strike to beat back ridiculous wage-rollbacks proposed by the company and secure a fair contract, with wage increases and no concessions.