Why Join SGEU?
At SGEU, we provide our members with:
- Professional bargaining support to help you reach a fair contract.
- Staff expertise in solving workplace issues fairly.
- Centrally funded arbitrations and legal action, so that even smaller units are protected.
- Significant financial support and benefit coverage in the event of a labour dispute.
- The best long-term disability plan in the province.
- Access to education and training opportunities.
- Access to scholarships and bursaries for you and your family.
- A truly home-grown, made-in-Saskatchewan union.
When you join SGEU, you’re not alone. You'll have approximately 20,000 members and professional staff in your corner. We'll work with you and your colleagues to make sure workers are treated fairly and everyone benefits. You’ll be protected, and the whole team’s relationship will improve.
Benefits of Belonging to SGEU
Long-Term Disability Plan for SGEU Members
SGEU has its own long-term disability plan, which we are proud to say is one of the best in the province. Our plan ensures that our members are provided with income protection and/or services in case they are disabled by illness or injury.
Highlights of the Plan:
- Exceeds industry standards
- Provides 3 years own occupation
- Benefit equals 80 per cent of net pre-disability salary
- Cost of living applied January 1 annually
- Benefit is non-taxable
- Three step appeal process at no cost to the member
- In-house advocacy provided at no cost to the member for Canada Pension Plan, Workers' Compensation Board, SGI claims/appeals
- Employee Assistance Program
SGEU offers high-quality educational programming. Courses include “Respectful Workplace,” “Know Your Collective Agreement,” “Ombudsman Training,” “Unionism of Turtle Island,” and much more!
Scholarships and Bursaries
SGEU supports our members and their dependants in achieving their learning goals. Our Scholarships and Bursaries Directory lists more than $65,000 in awards for post-secondary education, including labour studies.
Pension and Benefits Support
Pension and benefits staff at the union stay on top of the issues and provide accurate information and advocacy to our members.
Bargaining and Servicing
Our members can elect and run for their own bargaining teams. We have seasoned staff representatives who can assist you and your team in getting the best deal for your workplace. Staff reps work out of our offices in Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina.
SGEU encourages members to be active. Whether members want to run a campaign about privatization, wage inequity, or workload issues, the communications department staff can help you develop effective strategies and campaigns.
Working for Social Justice
SGEU provides opportunities for members to become involved in a wide range of social justice issues. We believe that unions should work towards equity and justice for all. The following committees focus on specific themes and topics:
- Anti-Privatization Committee
- Indigenous Committee (formerly FAIR)
- Human Rights/Equity (HRE)
- Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
- Women’s Committee
Myths and Facts about Joining a Union
FACT: If your boss currently treats you well, you might be one of the lucky ones. But what happens if the boss decides you no longer deserve to be treated that way? Or what if you get a new boss who isn’t so nice? A union can help ensure everyone is treated fairly no matter who the boss is or what mood they are in. Sometimes, if the employer hears that employees want to form a union, the boss will be on their best behavior and offer to fix problems in the short term. But, what happens afterward – will the boss be as willing to respond to your concerns once they’re no longer facing a union?
FACT: Organizing your union is a legally protected activity. The law gives you the right to help other people join the union so you can work together to improve your working lives.
The law protects you. SGEU makes sure that the law is upheld. According to The Saskatchewan Employment Act (SEA) it is an unfair labour practice for your employer, manager or supervisor to fire you, suspend you, punish you or threaten you in any way for joining a union or helping your co-workers join. Your employer will not be told if you did or didn’t sign a union card. If your employer asks whether you signed a union card or are helping organize a union, you are not required to answer. If any of these occur or you believe they are occurring, you should report this to SGEU because it is considered illegal. In cases like these, SGEU will stand with you and challenge it at the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board.
FACT: Dues levels are set by each union through a democratic process, and represent only a small percentage of each worker’s pay. SGEU dues are currently 1.7 per cent. Unions are not-for-profit organizations; the money that workers pay in dues goes back into running the organization so it can help its members. Dues from every member are pooled together to help all members have access to expert staff who can help them get better pay, benefits and fair treatment.
The services you receive as a union member are far greater than the cost of dues. If you didn’t belong to a union and had to hire an expert or a lawyer to help you when you ran into a problem at work, it would cost much more than the amount of dues you pay as a union member. A union can also negotiate wage increases that more than offset the cost of your union dues – the average unionized Saskatchewan worker earns over 20% more per hour than the average non-unionized worker. On top of that, your union dues are tax-deductible.
FACT: The main goal of a union is to negotiate a contract or collective bargaining agreement that is fair for its members. Strikes occur only when a contract is expired and the employer and union cannot reach an agreement at the bargaining table. Unions are required to hold a vote before taking any strike action, and strikes only occur when a clear majority of affected members vote in favour of a strike.
Strikes are controversial, and so they usually make the news. However, the vast majority of collective agreements in Canada are negotiated without a strike. In fact, more working days are lost each year due to workplace accidents and injuries than are lost to striking employees. A strike means a sacrifice for workers and their families. For this reason, strikes are only used as a last resort.
FACT: Unions can make the workplace a better, less stressful place to work because a union contract helps lay out how workers will be treated by the boss and what workers are expected to do. A contract allows the company and workers to sit down as equals and discuss problems as they come up. Without a union, workers’ lives are often more complicated because they must worry about things like favoritism, rules that change for no good reason, and low economic security. Unions can help resolve conflict and work with the employer on things like occupational health and safety issues, training needs, job security, and ensuring workers are happier and more productive.
FACT: Unions are still the best way for working people to have economic security and a voice on the job. Numbers from Statistics Canada show that Saskatchewan union members make 20% more in wages than workers who don’t have a union. Union members are much more likely to have good benefit packages and pension plans compared to workers without unions. Unions also help keep the workplace safe, prevent discrimination on the job and give workers a say in what happens at their workplace.
FACT: Unions do not require an employer to keep a worker who is lazy, incompetent, or constantly absent or late. However, a union helps ensure that dismissals are for “just cause.”
A union helps prevent workers from being fired without a good reason. A union will protect you from being fired if you miss work due to illness, for instance, or just because your boss dislikes you. This protection can be especially important for older workers, women, visible minorities, LGBTQ2S workers and those with disabilities. In this way, unions do protect people’s jobs.
FACT: Unions help to set work and salary standards that are clear and apply to everyone. Unions do not prevent employees from being promoted. They provide a structure that is applied fairly to all employees, based on objective reasoning rather than on the employer’s mood or attitude. Unions help prevent your boss from playing favourites or treating employees differently. You and your coworkers are entitled to be treated equally under the same rules and have the same chance to get promoted.
FACT: The main job of the union is to stand up for its members by fighting for good contracts that provide a fair wage, benefits and good working conditions. But the union also advocates for other issues that make a positive difference in the lives and communities of members and their families – things like affordable health care and prescription drugs, access to childcare, affordable housing, human rights including LGBTQ2S issues, and much more. We sometimes lobby federal or provincial governments, and we work to make sure our members have information on political parties and candidates who work for good laws and support issues that matter to working families. However, SGEU does not donate to any political parties. Any political work we do is not about electing a particular party, it’s about electing politicians and governments that stand up for working people.
FACT: Wages are important, but unions are also concerned about fair treatment and better working conditions. Over the years, unions have led the fight for medicare, workers’ compensation, occupational health and safety laws, stronger human rights laws, and pay and employment equity. Unions try to find a balance when asking for wage increases because they know it would harm employees if a company could not afford to pay its workers and had to cut jobs or go out of business. This is a scare tactic that is sometimes used against unions, but it makes no sense for a union to act in a way that would result in jobs being lost or a business closing down.
FACT: A union is made up of its members at each workplace. The members get to control the direction of the union by attending meetings or conventions, voting when decisions are being made, and electing leaders to represent them. This helps ensure that members who know their workplace and their community have a say in what the union is doing. SGEU is a Saskatchewan-based union that is proud to represent members who live, work and raise their families in communities across the province.
FACT: Unions are governed by their members, using a democratic decision-making process to elect their leaders and make decisions on what the union does. Unions are formed by their members and are accountable to them. Even the largest unions are small in comparison to the size, financial resources and power that large corporations hold. Governments also hold more power than unions and can change the laws that apply to unions, intervene in strikes, force workers back to work, or impose a contract on a union. Do you ever see a government do the same thing to large corporations? Certainly, there are times when some corporations or governments claim unions are too powerful. But remember – union power is really worker power. Unions are only as strong as their members make them. When business or governments say unions have become too powerful, it’s because they’re worried about the impact workers can have when they are organized and prepared to work together for their collective well-being.
Ready to Join Us?
Are you and your co-workers ready to join SGEU? Here's what to do:
Step 1. Contact us
Pick up the phone and call Don Regel, one of our specialists in Labour Relations, at 1.800.667.5221 ext. 220. Don will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Any contact made with us is kept strictly confidential.
Step 2. Sign an SGEU membership card
With the guidance of our member organizer, you and your co-workers will sign SGEU membership cards. The employer will never see these cards. SGEU maintains strict confidentiality.
When at least 45 per cent of employees at a particular workplace have signed cards, SGEU can apply to the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board for a secret ballot vote. The Labour Relations Board is the neutral government body that oversees the law that protects workers' rights to a union.
Step 3. Vote for SGEU
A secret ballot vote will be conducted by the Labour Relations Board after you and your co-workers apply to join the union. No one will know how you vote.
All employees listed on the certification order can vote. It doesn't matter if you are part-time or full-time—all votes count the same.
If a majority vote for the union, the labour board can certify SGEU as your legal bargaining agent. From that point on, your employer must deal with the union on all your working conditions. If you have a problem at work, your union will represent you.
Step 4. Now you have a union
Your employer and SGEU representatives (including workers from your bargaining unit) then sit down to negotiate a collective agreement. This agreement—the union contract—sets out wages, benefits, working conditions, job security and other workplace rights. SGEU has experienced, professional negotiators who know your industry and what is realistic. We've been representing Saskatchewan workers for over 100 years.
You and your co-workers have the final say on any collective agreement through a secret ballot vote. SGEU is a democratic union and will work to protect your rights under provincial labour laws.
Some employers would rather not have their employees represented by a union. But the choice is not theirs. Under Saskatchewan labour law, your employer cannot interfere with your decision to join a union. Employers can talk about the union generally but are forbidden from making any promises or threats, or to do anything that might prevent employees from making a free decision. If your employer breaks the law, SGEU can take legal steps to enforce your rights.
What are you waiting for? Join us today!
If you think you need a union, you probably do. SGEU is one of Saskatchewan's largest and most supported unions. A better life for you and your coworkers is just a phone call or email away. Contact our member organizer to learn more today!
SGEU Member Organizer