Basically, a union is a group of workers who join together and collectively negotiate their wages, benefits and working conditions. The local and national union provides these workers with resources such as elected representatives, staff experts, legal advice and education to allow them to accomplish their goals.
No. The B.C. Labour Relations Code protects all workers who choose to join a union and sign a membership card. Signing a union card is confidential.
The right to join a union is guaranteed by provincial and federal legislation. Here’s what both the B.C. and federal labour codes say about your right to join a union:
B.C. Labour Relations Code
Rights of employers and employees:
4. (1) Every employee is free to be a member of a trade union and to participate in its lawful activities.
6. (3) An employer or a person acting on behalf of an employer shall not
(a) discharge, suspend, transfer, lay off or otherwise discipline an employee, refuse to employ or continue to employ a person or discriminate against a person in regard to employment or a condition of employment because the person
(i) is or proposes to become or seeks to induce another person to become a member or officer of a trade union or
(ii) participates in the promotion, formation or administration of a trade union.
Canada Labour Code
(i) Every employee is free to join the trade union of his/her choice and to participate in its lawful activities.
Prohibitions Relating to Employers
(i) No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall:
(a) refuse to employ or to continue to employ or suspend, transfer, lay off or otherwise discriminate against any person with respect to employment, pay or any other term or condition of employment or intimidate, threaten or otherwise discipline any person because the person…
(i) is or proposes to become, or seek to induce any other person to become, a member, officer or representative of a trade union or participate in the promotion, formation or administration of a trade union.
Sometimes bad employers try to punish people for joining a union, but both the union and the B.C. Labour Relations Board take illegal conduct very seriously. Legal sanctions against the company can be serious. If you are the victim of this kind of illegal management misconduct, you will have the full backing of the 800 members of Local 2000, but also the strength of the 310,000 members of Unifor.
It is important to understand that you have a legal right to join a union. If you fail to exercise this right simply because you are scared, then lawbreakers have intimidated you from doing something that is your lawful right. Most B.C. employers follow the law.
Employers often do not want a union in their workplace because a union gives the workers a legal voice in the rules and policies that affect them. Opposing a union is all about the almost absolute power management will lose. A union allows workers to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions, as opposed to employers arbitrarily establishing the rules.
What does having a union contract do for me?
Your union contract is one of the most important documents in your work life. It spells out in clear terms how much you will be paid, what your benefits are, how much time off you receive and when you can take that time, how you are protected against bullying and discrimination, your health and safety rights, and much more.Everything that affects you as an employee is covered. With a union contract you have the legal ability to enforce your rights and ensure you get all your benefits.
You and your co-workers will determine if you ever need to go on strike. The only way a strike can happen is if a majority of you decide it is necessary in a secret ballot vote. The vast majority of contract talks are settled without a strike, but sometimes one is necessary to defend your rights or to improve your contract.