Having Issues At Work
Your job should provide you with a fair wage, safe environment, and benefits for you and your family. You should feel respected and that your voice is heard in the workplace no matter what position you’re in. Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly less common in Canada. Workers are finding themselves in jobs where wages are low, benefits and pension plans are non-existent and and they are seen as a number, rather than valued employees. When employers know they hold the power, they won’t make any changes to address an unfair workplace. Whether you’re experiencing one or multiple issues, the bottom line is you’ve had enough.
Are You Protected?
If you don’t have a union then the answer is no. Through collective bargaining, unions ensure you’re paid a good wage, have job security, seniority and that your voice is heard and respected. Unions ensure you are safe both inside the workplace and outside, with the distribution of pension and benefits. If your employer violates any aspect of the collective agreement, you can be assured it will not be tolerated. You will have a grievance procedure process in place with a union to ensure that you’re never taken advantage of in the workplace. Without this, you are not protected.
WHAT IS A UNION?
Unions have been around for decades and yet many still don’t know what a union can do for them. A simple definition of a union is an association of workers that protect rights in the workplace, but it’s so much more than that. The labour movement not only protects your rights but fights for an overall better quality of life for all workers. Joining Teamsters Local 362 means you are part of a family that defends fair wages, protects your health and safety, makes sure you have a voice at work and wants to help better your work and home life.
DEFENDERS OF FAIR WAGES
Unions have been setting the bar for wages for members and non-members alike for decades. This is more important than ever with wage discrimination still happening across the country. The gender pay gap means women are often paid less than men for the same work and racialized and Indigenous workers still make less on average than non-racialized and non-Indigenous Canadians. Workers across Canada earn an average of $5.28/hour more than non-union workers. That adds up.
PROTECTORS OF YOUR HEALTH AND SAFETY
While there are laws in effect to protect your health and safety in the workplace, that doesn’t mean that employers follow them. Unions have your back if you want to refuse unsafe work or want changes in your workplace to make it safer. It isn’t just your physical safety we protect: Teamsters 362 has led the way when it comes to mental health protection in the workplace. Unions also offer health benefits to their members to make sure their health, and the health of their family, is covered inside and outside of the workplace.
GIVING YOU A VOICE AND RESPECT
There is almost nothing more important than having a voice that is heard in the workplace. You should be seen as a human being who deserves respect and not just another employee. Unions give you that voice and allow you to speak out against any discrimination, harassment or unfair treatment without fear of being punished or losing your job. This also includes recognizing your seniority and experience in the workplace.
A FAMILY WHO HAS YOUR BACK
When you join a union, you become a member of a family. Teamsters 362 is proud to be active members of our community who work to make life better inside and outside of the workplace through the activism of our members. You always know someone has your back whether it’s bargaining for better wages or taking part in a community initiative.
LOOKING OUT FOR YOUR CAREER AND HOME LIFE
Work-life balance is crucial no matter what type of career you have. Your job should care about your well being at work, as well as at home. This is why unions ensure you have a good pension to take care of you and your family after years of hard work, and scholarships to help with your children’s education. We also make sure you have proper schedules that allow you to spend time outside of work with your friends and family.
You have thought about joining a union, but you probably still have some questions about them. That’s very common. You’re about to take a big step in improving your workplace and you will want to have all of the facts as you get started. If you don’t find the answer to your questions here, you can always contact one of our Teamsters 362 Business Agents who would be more than happy to answer. Here are some of the most common questions about unions.
The unionization process is known as organizing and you can do it with a Teamsters 362 Business Agent by your side. Deciding you want to create change in your workplace is a big decision, but the process to unionize is an exciting and powerful one. It may seem daunting at first but when you have Teamsters 362 to stand by you, the entire journey can be an incredibly rewarding experience. The most important thing to remember through organizing is that you have the law on your side to allow you to join a union democratically and free of any threats from employers. Here is the process to unionize.
FIND A STRONG ADVOCATE
To get the ball rolling in the unionization process, it’s best to start with a strong leader in the workplace who is willing to drive the movement. This advocate should engage with other coworkers to hear their views on unionizing and help to lead them towards a better workplace.
CONTACT TEAMSTERS 362 ORGANIZERS
Once a leader has emerged, the immediate next step should be to contact a Teamsters 362 Business Agent through email or phone. Our business agents are here to help you through every single step of the process and answer any questions you might have along the way.
FORM AN ORGANIZING COMMITTEE
An organizing committee should be created next and should represent all departments, and reflect racial, ethnic and gender diversity. This will be the core group that develops and puts the organizing plan into effect with your Teamsters 362 Business Agent.
GATHER AND DISCUSS
With representation from all departments and views, the committee can discuss the issues they are facing and the solutions they would like to see through unionization. It’s recommended that these meetings happen outside of the workplace.
Once the plan is in place and enough employees have shown interest, membership cards or a petition will be signed by employees outside of the workplace. This is completely confidential; your fellow coworkers and employer won’t know if you have signed one.
FILE APPLICATION TO LABOUR BOARD
Once enough membership cards have been signed then Teamsters 362 will file an application with the Labour Relations Board with an application for certification.
TIME TO VOTE
The next step is a secret ballot vote by the Labour Relations Board, which is completely confidential. If between 40 and 65 per cent of employees sign cards in favour of a union, a board-conducted vote will be required. If over 65 per cent sign cards, no board-conducted vote will be required.
LET THE BARGAINING BEGIN
If the vote is successful the Labour Board will certify Teamsters 362 as your official representative and now the bargaining begins. Your collective agreement is for you the employee, so it will be driven by what you want to see in your workplace. Your bargaining committee and your union representatives will identify the priorities and negotiate on your behalf. Your collective agreement will include important items such as seniority, vacations, grievance procedures, wages, benefits and more.
When you decide to unionize you’re going to get a lot of questions from your coworkers and probably some promises from management. You need to be prepared for this as you enter into organizing. Here are some of the answers to a few of the most common questions and concerns you’re likely to encounter along the road to unionization.
As a non-profit organization, we receive funding from the dues we collect from members. It’s useful to think of it as paying into a security fund that safeguards you in the workplace. Your dues are calculated based on a simple calculation: 2.5 x hourly wage, plus $4.00. This dues structure has been prescribed by the constitution of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. They add up to about 1.5 per cent of your annual wage and are tax deductible. Those dues go towards the cost of staff, arbitration, mediators and is also set aside for a strike fund in the event one is necessary. We also invest in community initiatives that make workplaces and our province better for all workers. These dues come off your paycheque and are paid once a month.
MY EMPLOYER FOLLOWS THE LAW
Your employer may follow the law, but that isn’t enough. There are no laws in place to ensure seniority is respected, that there is no favouritism, you are paid what you deserve, and that you are rewarded for your hard work. Employers typically follow the bare minimum of standards, while Unions bargain above minimum labour standards, and make sure you’re completely protected and treated fairly in the workplace.
WHAT IF THE BOSS FINDS OUT?
The process of forming a union is confidential. When you sign a membership card, neither your employer nor other employees will know you have signed one. The vote to unionize is also completely confidential. If your boss does somehow find out that you are wanting to unionize, there is no legal justification for them to fire you. Under the provincial labour code, your boss cannot fire you for joining or attempting to join a union.
MY EMPLOYER SAID THEY’LL DO BETTER NOW
With a union on your side your employer won’t just say that they ‘will do better’, they will actually have to. Employers make empty promises like this because they know they won’t be held accountable. With the power of a union behind you, you know they will be.