Almost one of every three Canadian workers belongs to a union. According to Human Resources Development Canada 31.5 per cent of the Canadian workforce was unionized in 2010. Some of the reasons why people may choose to join unionized workplaces include:
One of the most important concerns of any employee in times of high unemployment and economic uncertainty is the right to keep your job. In a union workplace, a collective agreement prevents you from being fired without reason. When you belong to a union, seniority rights also protect you. The longer you work, the more seniority protection you have. In the event of a lay off or reductions in the workplace, employees are ensured fairness by recognition of seniority. Improved Wages Unionized workers generally earn more than non-union employees performing similar work. As a union member your wages can be negotiated and wages will be set out in a contract. This ensures that people who do the same job are paid equally. According to Statistics Canada, in 1998 the average hourly wage in Canada for unionized employees was 29.8% higher than that for non-unionized employees.
Health Care, Pension Plans, and other Benefits
A union workplace is more likely than a non-unionized workplace to have a dental and healthcare plan, coverage for sickness and accidents, and a pension plan to which your employer contributes. It is also more likely that unionized workers have better paid vacation leaves than non-unionized employees have. Scheduling of Hours As a union member, your hours of work will be based on your seniority. The employer is required to schedule the 8-hour shifts before the 7-hour shifts, and then downward to the minimum 4 hour shifts. All shifts must be based on your seniority.
A Stronger Voice through Collective Bargaining
An individual employee has little influence over what happens at the workplace and has little say over the decisions of the employer. Belonging to a union gives you rights that you do not have as an individual. Rather than dealing with the employer individually concerning the terms and conditions of the employment, employees bargain collectively as a group and the employer is legally obliged to negotiate with the union and cannot refuse to discuss the issues that are of concern to the employees.
A Right to Vote On Your Contract
The ultimate decision as to the terms and conditions of the workplace is up to the employees. Unionized employees are entitled to vote on the acceptance or rejection of any contract negotiated by their union. A majority of the employees (51% or more) must vote in favour for the contract to become effective.
THANKS TO UNIONS WE HAVE . . . .
Imagine Life Without Them! Source: Learning Labour-Ideas for Secondary Schools by Fab Antonelli, OSSTF District 13, Durham and Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto; Centre for the Study of Education and Work
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