FAQ & Myths
My workplace is great, I don’t need a union.
Congratulations! If you are being paid a decent wage, getting benefits and retirement savings, and have a voice in the workplace, then most likely you don’t need a union. Many Employers off these types of incentives for just that reason, and that’s great. The only question is what’s protecting those things? What if the company got sold, or changed management? Would you still have those things? Is your job protected? If the Municipality or Owner needs to claw back, the non-union folks get hit first. Often the best time to unionize IS when everyone is happy. The process is fast and usually not acrimonious. We can get you a Collective Agreement that can lock in what you have. Don’t wait until you start to lose those things.
Doesn’t the union is just protect lazy unproductive workers?
Given all we see in media stories it often feels that way. Let’s face it all work places have someone who doesn’t pull their weight. In these circumstances the employer has ample tools to discipline or dismiss a worker for cause. What the union will do is protect a worker from being fired with no cause. We will help to get worker’s accommodations in the workplace for issues that are often overlooked by the employer, or are invisible disabilities. The union levels the playing field so that employer’s can’t pick favorites or treat anyone in an arbitrary manner because honestly we all have bad days.
What about paying dues, I work now without having to pay?
Yes the union charges dues. Our local is amongst the lowest in the country, but there are still dues. Where does the money go? Well lets break it down a bit: we paying an amount to the National Office each year for each member; this is to cover the salaries of the International Officers who do HUGE amounts of work representing us. The National Office is always available to assist us with negotiations, grievance and arbitration, legal assistance. They Provide training assistance and governing assistance as well.
We pay for memberships in larger labour organization such as the Canadian Labour Congress. They do the heavy lifting when it comes to Government and social policy. For example it was the CLC that lobbied for the increases to the CPP.
We use what’s left over to pay the rent on the Office, pay for phones, postage, paper, bookkeepers and pay the Officers a monthly stipend. We also use the money to offer training programs, negotiate contracts, and settle grievances. All in all its pretty good value.
If we organize or I join the Union I won’t be able to do non-union jobs.
We all have to make a living. The union has no problem with you doing non-union work, we just ask that when you take a non-union job CALL THE BUSINESS AGENT. This lets us know where people are working. We can inform Business Agents in other jurisdictions to avoid any issues.
If we organize the company will go bankrupt.
No it won’t. Certifying accompany will ensure that you have a voice in all decisions about wages. The company is already making more money than you are on every hour, we want to see the workers get a bigger share. Any company that would rather close than treat its workers fairly is weighing us all down. You have the right to a job that lets you feed your family.
We can’t organize we are Independent Contractors.
In most cases only the employer thinks you are independent contractors. In fact MOST people working in the industry are misclassified and this leaves the workers vulnerable. In many cases, it leaves you without WSIB coverage if you are injured. It leaves you open to a 3rd party lawsuit if an accident happens on a job site you were on. Under the law you are almost certainly, with few exceptions, an employee and eligible to organize. In fact you are likely to be the sector that would benefit.
But I get paid cash each day, it works out to more money, especially if I don’t claim it.
Being misclassified and paid as an independent contractor also leaves you financially vulnerable. Sure, it looks great to have a handful of cash at the end of the day, but consider this; If you don’t claim it, and you do file taxes your yearly income is greatly reduced. This will effect your ability to get credit, get a mortgage, even an apartment in some markets. In the long run you will have reduced CPP benefits at the end of your career. If you DO claim it on your taxes, you will now have to pay the EMPLOYER’s portion of the CPP, so that 25 bucks an hour just got reduced by 2.5% ; and if you are an independent contractor you could get dinged for HST which of course the employer hasn’t paid you because he used the money to put gas in his speed boat. And you are young and invincible, Right? You won’t get hurt leaving your family with even further reduced income and no insurance of any kind? You certainly won’t feel the effects of sleep deprivation driving home after your third marathon night?
Won’t the more senior members of the union just take my job?
Absolutely Not! Not only is this old chestnut not true, it would be illegal. We are an organization that exists to represent workers. We don’t want your job, you already have it. WE want to help make your job and by extension your life better. The only time you might see other members is when extra labour is required by your employer.
I have spoken to my employer before and they said no to the union.
That’s the beauty, they don’t get a say.
How would organizing work?
Organizing is a legal process that can be as fast or as gradual as you would like. Often 1 or 2 interested employees give us a call and we will have a brief off site meeting to discuss any questions or concerns. Then we will begin to engage the other employee at their own pace. Each person who would like representation then signs a card stating their intent. When we have enough cards, we file for a certification. Once the certificate is issued the Employer will be compelled to come to the table and negotiate a Collective Agreement. Best part, usually any animosity from the employer gets directed at “the union” and away from the employees.
What if my employer fires or demotes me as a warning for trying to organize?
They cannot harass, demote, or fire you for engaging in organizing activities. That being said, they will try, so we suggest that you do not talk union business on the Job. This does not include coffee or lunch breaks, if you get them. (If you don’t, you REALLY need to call us and we will get you some! ) If you do feel that an employer is aiming reprisal at you for union activity call us immediately, and document everything.