Ask yourself a few questions:
- Is your workplace safe?
- Are you treated the same as your coworkers?
- Do you have health benefits?
- Do you have a pension plan?
- What happens if another company buys your workplace?
- Do you know your worker rights?
Every worker has the right to belong to a union, benefit from what unions have won for workers and have a voice in the workplace.
Almost one of every three Canadian workers belongs to a union. According to Statistics Canada, roughly 3.6 million employees in the Canadian workforce in 1998 were union members.
Union workers have better benefits, greater job security and a voice in the workplace, community and government. Unions help workers earn fair wages and ensure workplaces are safe and labour laws are followed.
Are you ready to organize?
Joining a Union
A union is a long-term commitment for workers.
The union is there to represent and help members for the long term.
Here are some things to keep in mind about having a union at your workplace:
- Union members pay union dues (fees). This money pays for the work the union does for you.
- Unions will negotiate with your employer for a collective agreement by meeting with the members to hear their ideas and concerns. The union then meets with the employer to work out a fair agreement that the members vote on.
- Union workers usually make more money and have greater benefits than people doing the same work in non-union workplaces.
- Union members can participate in meetings and be elected to union executive.
- Unions help prevent unjust discipline and protect worker rights.
Almost one of every three Canadian workers belong to a union.
According to Statistics Canada, roughly 3.6 million employees in the Canadian workforce in 1998 were union members.
Here are some of the reasons.
Unionized workers generally earn more than non-union employees performing similar work. The average hourly wage in Canada is about 29.8% higher for unionized employees compared to non-union workers – and the gap is even larger for part-time employees.
A STRONGER VOICE THROUGH COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
An individual employee has little influence over what happens at the workplace and is subject to the arbitrary decisions of his or her employer. Although there are labour laws governing such things as minimum wages, holidays and overtime, these laws establish only minimum rights at a very basic level.
Belonging to a Union and being represented by a Union gives you rights that you do not have as an individual. Rather than dealing with your employer individually concerning the terms and conditions of your employment, employees bargain collectively as a group with the assistance of a Union business representative. The employer is legally obligated to negotiate with your Union and cannot refuse to discuss the issues which are of concern to employees.
One of the most important concerns for any employee in these times of high unemployment and economic uncertainty is the right to keep your job. A collective agreement prevents you from being fired without just cause. In the event of layoffs due to lack of work, most union contracts set out the rules under which layoffs or reductions in the workforce can take place. This ensures fairness to all employees and usually gives recognition to seniority based on length of service.
A RIGHT TO VOTE ON YOUR CONTRACT
Employees working under a collective agreement are entitled to vote on the acceptance or rejection of any contract negotiated by their union. A majority of employees must vote to accept a tentative contract in order for it to become effective. Therefore, the ultimate decision as to the terms and conditions of employment at the workplace rests with employees through a democratic process.
Your Right to Join a Union
Every worker in Manitoba has the right to form and belong to a union – Manitoba labour law protects you.
The law prevents your employer from firing, punishing or mistreating you for joining or creating a union.
Under the law, employees are entitled to be free from any coercion, intimidation or harassment when making their decision whether or not to join a union or organize a union at their workplace. Although an employer may insist that you restrict your union organizing activities to off-duty hours, what you do on your own time is your business.
It’s illegal for any employer to:
- fire, demote, lay off or otherwise punish an employee for engaging in union activities
- threaten to punish an employee in any way for engaging in union activities or for exercising any of the employee's legal rights under the Labour Relations Act of Manitoba
- interrogate an employee as to whether he or she has applied for membership in a trade union
- attempt to discourage an employee from joining a union
- attempt to influence an employee's choice as to which union to select as their bargaining agent
Employers who engage in such illegal activities are committing an unfair labour practice under the Labour Relations Act and may be subject to legal sanctions and financial penalties.
If the Manitoba Labour Board rules that an unfair labour practice has been committed, the Board has the power to order the reinstatement of any employee who has been improperly terminated or to order other remedies.