Here are answers to some frequently asked questions, but remember you can always contact an organizer.
Unionizing gives us the power to collectively bargain with our Employer and have any improvements protected in a legally binding contract. Thousands of workers across Canada are already unionized with SEIU and have won major improvements through collective bargaining such as guaranteed wage increases, premiums, and superior benefit and pension plans.
Employers might say “it’s your choice to form a union” and often say “it won’t make a difference,” or “there’s nothing to be gained.” However, in practice they use various tactics and strategies to dissuade and disempower us. If being part of a union didn’t help workers win better working conditions, then why do Employers fight workers’ efforts to unionize?
A union is not a third party; rather it is a democratic organization of workers. What the employer really means is that while they retain professional legal advice in dealing with employment matters, they do not want employees to have access to similar expertise.
Any improvements the company introduces in an effort to dissuade workers from forming a union can be rescinded at a later date because they are not protected by a legally binding contract.
When we have a union, we are protected against any unjust disciplines and termination through a grievance procedure. Without a union, an Employer can terminate workers without just cause and is only required to pay out the minimum severance as per the Employment Standards Act. Moreover, if there were ever layoffs, being unionized means we would have recall rights.
From the time Management finds out about a union drive and until we negotiate our union contract, we are protected by legal freeze provisions. That means that the Employer cannot change any terms and conditions of our work, such as wages, scheduling, benefits etc.
We begin to bargain from where we are at. Workers join unions to make improvements and move forward – not backwards.
Definitely. If we have an issue, we can always talk directly with our supervisor. The difference with a union is if we feel we were treated unfairly, we can get a fair hearing on the issue through our grievance procedure.
Diversity, inclusion, and other progressive polices are extremely important in creating a fair and enjoyable place to work. However, without the power to engage in collective bargaining and have your issues addressed in a legally binding Union contract, it will be difficult to ensure these important policies and improvements remain in place and are respected.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, each province has adopted a different set of rules for the unionization process. Contact an organizer to get specific information on your province and work situation.
Yes. If you’re working from home, chances are you have a direct line of communication to many of your co-workers, some added flexibility to your schedule, and less direct supervision. You do not need to be working under the same roof as your co-workers in order to form a union together.
Union dues are how workers pool money together to have the resources to organize collectively and win strong contracts. Dues are 2% of our gross wages and are tax deductible. We do not pay any dues until we negotiate and vote to approve our new union contract. Who would ever agree to something that doesn’t move us forward?
Dues make it possible to file grievances and present arbitration cases; organizing new members to make us stronger; conduct training and education; and campaigning for better labour laws.
No. There are no initiation fees.
Some questions can be specific to your sector. Be sure to check out the FAQ on our Justice for Janitors campaign website or the ones on the Beverage Workers Rising website if these are applicable to you. You can also contact an organizer to help you answer questions you might have.
Contact an Organizer
If you want to form a union in your workplace, we can help you develop your plan to win.