What If There Were No Unions?

You cannot talk about labour history without mentioning unions – they have been essential in the formation of workplace laws and standards. To really understand the role they play, take a minute and imagine if there were no unions.

No Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining is one of the pillars of belonging to a union, and without it employees would not be able to negotiate their rights, health benefits, pensions and fair wages. It is essential in improving work and living standards for workers across Canada and with a union backing you – you have people to support you throughout the process.

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No Union Advantage

Statistics show that union members earn more on average than non-union workers, but these higher wages set the bar for even non-unionized workers. Union members earn$5.28/hour more, on average, than non-union workers and women in a union earn $7.10/hour more, on average, than non-union. The union advantage doesn’t just have to do with wages either, unions also set the standard for health care, safety and working conditions. Without the union advantage, all workplaces would suffer.

No Lobbying 

Not only do Unions stand up for the rights of workers within workplaces, but they also take the fight all the way to Parliament Hill. Unions are always part of social movements and activism whether it has to do with human rights or workers rights in Canada. If there were no unions, Canada would loose a powerful voice that stands up for workers.

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Lack of Safety Standards and Training

From construction safety to social activism – unions offer countless training programs for workers within the union. They also set the standard for safety within the workplace pushing for legislation, and recently they have been pushing for more action to be taken when it comes to mental health support. Without unions setting these standards, quality of the workplace would go down. In some areas of the U.S. like Oklahoma Workers Compensation is 'optional' for business and they can opt out as long as they provide coverage for injured workers showing why unions are more important than ever when it comes to safety.

No matter how you look at it, unions play a major role in the workplace and overall quality of life. Imagining a Canada without them is hard to do, and also quiet scary.


Alberta Film Industry Will Continue To Thrive With Government Tax Incentives

It is no secret that Alberta is a province that is known for oil and gas, but the film and television industry has had a great economic impact on our province.

This industry wouldn’t be able to thrive without the assistance of government tax incentives, something not lost on the many union members who are employed in the industry, not only in Alberta, but around North America.

Union members are a huge part of this industry, and with these incentives they are able to find more work on productions right in our province, benefiting not only them and their families, but also our economy.

When the NDP Government released their budget this year they included increases to the commitments that were already made to the television and film industry. They received ‘$11-million top up for a total of $36.8 million, part of $75.6 million pegged for arts and creative industries in the 2015 budget.’

The last few years have been incredible for our industry with the award winning film The Revenant and popular television shows Heartland, Hell On Wheels, Fargo and Young Drunk Punk all being filmed in Alberta.

There is also a $22 million dollar film centre being built in Calgary, which is expected to be operational be 2016.

The support of government tax incentives cannot be stressed enough in the film industry. The state of Georgia has had government tax incentives for film and television add a huge boost to their economy, and they are now among the top five destinations for film production in the United States.

Union members across the state are very thankful as demonstrated in a heartfelt ‘thank you’ they have posted on YouTube.

With the low Canadian dollar and the great success of Alberta productions, our industry is destined to grow and become known as one of the top destinations for film production.


Liberals Face Opposition To Repealing Anti-Union Bills

This year has started out on an upswing for labour unions when it comes to legislation, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing that the liberals have tabled legislation to repeal anti-union bills C-377 and C-525.

These bills that had a direct affect on labour made headlines across the country last year. Bill C-525 and Bill C – 377 not only caused critics to question what effects they would have on labour unions, but Canadian’s human rights in general.

Trudeau made a pledge to repeal them during his election campaign, and the latest action is seen as a step towards mending the government’s relationship with labour.

But the Liberal Government is facing opposition with Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer, saying that the bills are actually "pro-worker" and "pro-union.”

He added in an interview with Huffington Post that the Conservatives in the House would oppose the Liberals' new bill.

"If, in half a dozen or eight years from now, these bills are doing what the Liberals and what some union members are saying they will do, they can be reconsidered at that point. But to repeal legislation before it has even hardly gone into effect, I just think is not the right move,” he said in the interview.

Bill C-377 targets labour organizations with the intention of creating ‘more transparency’, requiring ‘unions, labour trusts and employee associations to disclose any transaction of more than $5,000, along with the names of the payer and payee, to the Canada Revenue Agency.’

Critics said that it was unconstitutional, not needed and costly and burdensome. The cost of processing and administration alone will have a tremendous financial impact on the government and taxpayers.

Teamsters review their financial statements at regularly scheduled meetings, making the process transparent and open.

The bill is also unconstitutional in that it would breach privacy laws concerning individual members, regarding information related to their health care and pension.

Bill C-525 would make the union certification process very difficult, eliminating the automatic card check certification and replacing it with a two-stage process adding a voting process in addition to card signing.


Joining A Union Means An Advantage When It Comes To Wage

Money can’t always buy you happiness, but making a decent and fair wage is a right of all Canadians. If you are in a job that is paying you lower than you deserve, or you are being passed over for promotions then you should consider unionizing. Statistics from the Canadian Labour Congress show that union workers across Canada earn $5.28/hour more than non-union workers. It is time for more people to take part in the union advantage.

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Young Workers

Young people entering the workplace are typically finding themselves at lower level jobs and in precarious positions. A recent report in Alberta found that teens were being employed in unsafe workplaces and were working prohibited hours. Being a part of a union however allows young workers to earn more, in Alberta for example young workers earn $4.92/hour more than non unionized workers providing 7.5 million more each week.

Women

Even in 2016 there still is a pay gap between men and women, and women are still having issues moving into managerial roles in workplaces. According to Catalyst Canada Canadian women earn $0.82 to every $1 earned by men, a gap of 18 per cent. They found that the ‘global pay gap was about $4,000 on average between men and women, and the Canadian pay gap was just over $8,000.’ According to the CLC with a union women earned $7.10/hour more on average than non-union.

New Canadians and Aboriginal Workers

New Canadians are often employed in positions of precarious work, so having a union on their side is important. In Alberta those with a union earned $3.49/hour more and put over 10.1 million more each week into their paychecks. Aboriginal workers earned $8.47/hour more when they are unionized.

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Setting the Bar

Not only does the above average pay benefit those who are members of a union, it also helps non-unionized workers. For decades unions have set the bar when it comes to wages across Canada. As work becomes more precarious, unstable and disproportionate, unions’ help to make sure Canadians can make a fair wage.


Millennial Women Face Gender Pay Gap

Even in 2016, gender inequality is still an issue found in workplaces across the world, including Canada.

The spotlight has been on the issue with a review last year of Canada by the United Nations who found that gender inequality in the workplace is a huge concern, especially when it comes to pay.

According to Catalyst Canada Canadian women earn $0.82 to every $1 earned by men, a gap of 18 per cent. They found that the ‘global pay gap was about $4,000 on average between men and women, and the Canadian pay gap was just over $8,000.’

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And this isn’t just a problem for older generations. Millennials too are entering workplaces where the gender pay gap still exists, especially if it is non-unionized.

Studies have shown that being a member of a union can help narrow the gender wage gap for women. Union members earn on average $5.28 per hour more than workers without a union and women earn $7.10 per hour more on average with a union.

Under no circumstances are there any Teamsters agreements where men and woman receive a different pay rate for the same job. Men and women deserve equal pay and it is something the union strongly believes in.

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As pointed out by an article in The Guardian, this wage gap is something that younger women need to address the first day of their first job, when they are introduced to the wage gap.

The optimism of millennials isn’t going to be enough to solve the problem – they need to take action.

Unions have been fighting for worker’s rights for decades, and joining one offers an opportunity to continue to fight to close the gender pay and aspiration gap.


The Teamsters Truck Rolls Through Beiseker To Help Prevent Bullying

The Teamster truck has become a staple at summer events across Alberta – transforming into a stage, it has become the centre point for rallying audiences for a good cause and celebration.

The Beiseker Car Show and Shine that was held in June last year was no exception. The event raised over $18,000 for Beyond the Hurt – Healthy Relationships, an organization that helps children and youth rise above bullying.

The program has a local connection, as it will be offered to students in the Beiseker school system.

Beyond the Hurt is one of the leading programs in bullying prevention training in Canada and is based on a public health approach.

Teamsters has been involved in the event for over seven years, from participating in the parade to being the centre point, where the emcee and band perform.

Teamsters’ organizer Stacy Tulp described the event as one of Beiseker’s best ever.

Although the snow is still on the ground, the Teamsters truck is getting geared up for the next season of events and supporting local communities across Alberta.


The Power Of Solidarity In The Workplace And Beyond

Solidarity is a word that is used a lot, not only when we talk about labour unions, but also social and human rights movements around the world.

It is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as ‘a feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals, etc.’ but it is so much more than that – especially when it comes to the workplace.

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Here are three reasons why solidarity is so important in the labour movement and the workplace.

1.     Confidence In The Workplace

In an age of precarious work and low wages, knowing you have someone to back you up in the workplace makes you feel more secure in your job. You know you are not alone if you feel discriminated against in the workplace, because you have a group of brothers and sisters to back you up. You are able to perform your job without the stress of being fired or punished unjustly.

2.     Levels The Playing Field

When it is you alone against management, it can sometimes feel like an unwinnable battle. One voice may not be able to take on upper management if they have violated your rights as a worker, but with the solidarity of a union to back you up, you are able to negotiate on a level playing field where all voices count.

3.     Assists With Other Causes

Not only does the solidarity of a union help in the workplace, but it also has a long history of lending a hand when it comes to social and human rights movements. From the civil rights movement to black lives matter to missing and murdered aboriginal women – the solidarity of the labour movement has lent a hand in fighting for rights of all people.

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The solidarity felt as part of union goes beyond just the local, reaching to international union organizations and governing labour bodies across the world. No one should ever have to feel alone in the workplace, and solidarity is part of what builds a community amongst people in a workplace.