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Unions

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									Union: Labor unions lobby for better working conditions, hours, pay and
benefits. Union members may earn more money, have better benefits and
have a voice at work about the best way to get the job done because their
rights are more actively represented and protected. The union represents
the interests of its members. There are some jobs where only unionized
workers can be hired.

Unionized Worker: Someone who belongs to a union. How do you become a
member? (It depends – can start a movement to form one, may be in one
automatically depending on your career or may depend on
experience/seniority) A union represents its members legally.

Non-Unionized Worker: Someone who does not belong to a union.

Examples of Unions in Canada: Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW),
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Public Service Alliance of Canada
(PSAC), Nova Scotia Nurses Union, Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU), etc.

Labour Standards: Minimum requirements employers must meet in terms
of employee rights (wages, breaks, safety, etc.)

Employee Benefits: Varies depending on where you work. Your union tries
to make sure you have the best benefits possible (in theory) Ex. Insurance,
investment opportunities, sick time, leave, holidays, personal days, pension
plans, etc.

Union Dues: Mandatory amount deducted from your pay to fund the union
and union activities on your behalf.

Arbitration: A dispute between two parties is settled by an impartial third
party. If it’s binding arbitration, then the decision is final and cannot be
argued further.

Collective Bargaining: negotiation between an employer and a labor union
usually on wages, benefits, hours, and working conditions. Your union reps
negotiate on your behalf.
Strike: engage in a suspension of (work) until an employer grants certain
demands, such as pay increases, an improved pension plan, etc. It is voted on
by union members.

Lockout: A lockout happens when an employer refuses to allow union
members to come to work unless they agree with the employer's proposed
collective agreement. A lockout is an attempt to force union workers to
accept the employer's settlement terms, or to try to force the union to
make substantial compromises in its position. Obviously, the workers do not
get to vote on whether or not their employer locks them out.

Contract: a legal agreement between an employer and its employees in
terms of benefits and work requirements. It is negotiated on a regular basis
between the parties involved.

Grievance: When you make a formal complaint to your employer. (Eg. If
you felt your rights or contract terms were being violated)

Lobby: Try to persuade the government to act in a certain way. (Eg. Unions
will often try to lobby the government on behalf of their members interests)

Benefits of Unions:
    Protection of wages, benefits, conditions, etc.

    Legal representation

    Negotiation

    Promotion of worker’s rights

    Scholarships *funding

    PD opportunities



Disadvantages of Unions:
    Sometimes have no choice but to belong

    Paying dues to an organization that you may feel doesn’t represent

      your interests
    Protects all workers – even those who are incompetant

    May make decisions you disagree with but are forced to go along with

      because you are a member (i.e. strike)
    May feel like your individual voice isn’t heard
History of Canadian Unions

Unions have been part of Canadian economic life since before Confederation in 1867.
The first unions were formed by skilled workers such as printers, shoemakers,
stonemasons, cigar makers, iron workers and others. They were later followed by railway
workers, carpenters, painters, meatpackers and workers in dozens of other industries.

Even though unions were in existence, their early years were difficult. Before 1872,
Canadian law allowed for the prosecution of unions as "criminal conspiracies." Many
union leaders were actually jailed for leading strikes. At the time, the ruling classes
thought that workers should be satisfied with whatever they were paid and however they
were treated.

Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald (his portrait is on the $10 bill)
finally legalized unions in Canada because he believed workers should have the right to
representation in order to better their lives. He was a Conservative. Ironically,
Conservatives today are often hostile to unions. Many don't know that their first leader
felt very differently.

Unions in Canada grew very rapidly in the years following World War I (1914-18) and
World War II (1939-45). Much of this growth was because of the anger workers felt at
their treatment. Many workers had left their jobs to join the military and risk their lives
for everyone's freedom. Many never returned, or returned with missing limbs and other
serious injuries. Those that did return were often treated by their employers not as heroes
but as disposable production units. "Is this what we risked our lives for? Is this why our
friends died, face down in the mud and sand?" they asked themselves. They then joined
unions in large numbers, not just to better their economic situation but to win the dignity
and respect they were entitled to.

Canadian Unions Today

Nearly 30% of Canadian workers belong to unions, including, nurses, teachers,
journalists and professional athletes, as well as the more traditionally unionized
occupations like retail store clerks, manufacturing workers, miners, electricians and other
construction trades workers.

Unions in Canada are regulated by federal and provincial legislation. They are required
by law to be democratic and financially accountable to their members. There are well
over a hundred different unions in Canada but most unionized workers belong to the ten
largest unions, UFCW Canada among them.

Polls consistently show that most Canadians agree with the principle of collective
bargaining and workplace representation.
Why Unions are Good for the Canadian Economy

Many historians credit unions with the rise of Canada's middle class and the general
prosperity of the country. By helping more workers make decent wages with more job
security, unions were largely responsible for stabilizing the economy and stimulating its
growth. Because of unions, more working people could afford houses, better food,
clothing, cars and other consumer goods. Increasing demand for these things created
more jobs and even more economic growth.

Better-paid and more secure workers could also pay more in taxes to support the growth
of public services like schools, roads, clean water, police services, electricity and health
care. Even those who have never belonged to a union have benefited from their existence
all their lives.

Even though some people like to say that unions are bad for the economy, the Canadian
reality proves them wrong. Canada is among the top five most prosperous countries in the
world and has a relatively high rate of unionization. Union workers make more money,
spend more money and create more jobs with that spending. The health care benefits
enjoyed by union members (dental, prescription drugs, optical, physiotherapy, etc) means
healthier families and less of a burden on the health care system. And their higher
pensions means they are much less of a burden on their children and communities when
they retire. Unions are good, not bad, for Canada's economy.

Union Dues

Unions in North America started nearly two hundred years ago as "mutual aid societies."
They are still like that today. Everyone who belongs contributes a small portion of their
income in return for the protection of the group as a whole. That's what union dues are.
Every union member contributes to a common fund of money that is used to protect the
interests of all.

It's a lot like insurance. In fact, many people view union dues as "job insurance
premiums," though that doesn't tell half the story. Union dues are used not only to protect
jobs but to fund negotiations for better wages and working conditions, to pay for
professional advice when needed, to organize more workers and thus make the union
stronger, to train stewards and health and safety committee activists, to lobby for better
laws for workers and their families, and many other purposes.

Because unions get their funds only from their members, there are no divided loyalties.
Unions stand up for their members - the people who pay all the bills. Yes, unions can
cooperate with governments and employers, but where their members' interests are at
stake, unions side with their members. In no union is this more true than in UFCW
Canada. For example, in order to protect its members' legal rights, UFCW Canada has
gone to the Supreme Court of Canada several times - and won!
What about Strikes and Lockouts?

There is a difference between a strike and a lockout, although they are related. Both are
also known as "work stoppages." A strike is a general withdrawal of services by the
members of the union because they are not willing to accept the employer's offer for a
collective agreement. Strikes can be over wages, pensions, health care benefits, seniority
rights, health and safety conditions, job security and other issues.

Under the UFCW Canada Constitution, a strike cannot happen unless the members vote,
by secret ballot, to authorize the union to call a strike if necessary.

A lockout happens when an employer refuses to allow union members to come to work
unless they agree with the employer's proposed collective agreement. A lockout is an
attempt to force union workers to accept the employer's settlement terms, or to try to
force the union to make substantial compromises in its position. Obviously, the workers
do not get to vote on whether or not their employer locks them out.

In reality, there are very few strikes or lockouts in Canada. Over 95% of all negotiations
end in a settlement without a work stoppage. Of those work stoppages that do happen,
most last only a short time. For example, in 2000, only one work day in 1,655 was lost to
a strike or lockout.

The reason it seems like there are more strikes than actually happen is because the media
often reports on "threatened strikes" that never take place. And since it is often necessary
to threaten to strike to get the attention of the employer at the bargaining table, those
reported threats become, in many people's minds, actual strikes, even though they never
happened. It's one example of how the media distorts the image of unions.


Unions are Everywhere, for Everyone!

On the next sheet there is a list of 75 occupations where you will find union
representation in Canada. There are many more, so if your occupation is not
on this list don't worry. You can still join a union with experience in your
field. UFCW Canada represents workers in more occupations than any other
union in Canada. If you and your co-workers think you might need a union, you
probably do.
Some Union Occupations in Canada

Agricultural workers      Factory workers         Paramedics
Airline Pilots            Federal government      Performing artists
Airport staff             employees               (musicians, actors,
Bartenders                Film industry workers   dancers)
Beer and liquor store     Fire fighters           Pharmacists
workers                   Fishery workers         Pipe fitters
Bricklayers               Flight Attendants       Plumbers
Butchers                  Food processors         Police officers
Cab drivers               Forestry workers        Power plant operators and
Cafeteria workers         Funeral Home staff      technicians
Call Centre workers       Garbage collectors      Professional Athletes
Carpenters                Grain inspectors        Provincial government
Casino workers            Grocery store workers   employees
Clothing & garment        Grounds Keepers         Public transit workers
makers                    Heavy equipment         Radio and television staff
Commercial laundry        operators               Radiologists
workers                   Home Care workers       Railway workers
Construction workers      Hospital workers        Retail store workers
Cooks                     Hotel workers           Scientists
Couriers                  Ironworkers             Security Guards
Custodians                Journalists             Teachers
Customs Agents            Librarians              Telecommunication
Dairy workers             Meat inspectors         workers
Defence Department        Mill workers            Theatrical technicians
staff                     Miners                  Truck drivers
Dieticians                Municipal government    Waiters and Waitresses
Doctors                   employees               Warehouse workers
Education support staff   Nurses                  Window washers
Electricians              Office workers          Woodworkers

								
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