Having Issues at Work?
Your job should provide you with a fair wage, safe environment, and benefits for you and your family. You should feel respected and that your voice is heard in the workplace no matter what position you’re in. Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly less common in Saskatchewan and in Canada. Workers are finding themselves in jobs where wages are low, benefits and pension plans are non-existent and they are seen as a number, rather than valued employees. When employers know they hold the power, they won’t make any changes to address an unfair workplace. Whether you’re experiencing one or multiple issues, the bottom line is you’ve had enough to the point where you and your co-workers need some help!
Are You Protected?
If you don’t have a union then the answer is no. Through collective bargaining, unions ensure you’re paid a fair wage, have job security, seniority and that your voice is heard and respected. Unions ensure you are safe both inside the workplace and outside, with the distribution of pension and benefits. If your employer violates any aspect of the collective agreement, you can be assured it will not be tolerated. You will have a grievance procedure process in place with a union to ensure that you’re never taken advantage of in the workplace. Without this, you are not protected.
The unionization process is known as organizing and you can do it with a Teamsters Local 395 organizer helping and guiding you through the process. Deciding you want to create change in your workplace is a big decision, but the process to unionize is an exciting and powerful one. It may seem daunting at first but when you have the Teamsters to stand by you, the entire journey can be an incredibly rewarding experience. The most important thing to remember through organizing is that you have the law on your side to allow you to join a union democratically and free of any threats from employers.
Find a Strong Advocate or Leader
To get the ball rolling in the unionization process, it’s best to start with a strong leader in the workplace who is willing to drive the movement. This advocate should engage with other coworkers to hear their views on unionizing and help to lead them towards a better workplace.
Contact Teamsters 395 Organizer
Once a leader has emerged, the immediate next step should be to contact a Teamsters 395 Organizer through email or phone. Our Organizer is here to help you through every single step of the process and answer any questions you might have along the way.
Form an Organizing Committee
An organizing committee should be created next and should represent all departments, and reflect racial, ethnic and gender diversity. This will be the core group that develops and puts the organizing plan into effect with your Teamsters Organizer.
Once the plan is in place and enough employees have shown interest, membership cards will be signed by employees outside of the workplace. This is completely confidential; your fellow coworkers and employer won’t know if you have signed one.
File Application to Labour Board
Once enough membership cards have been signed then Teamsters 395 will file an application for certification with the Labour Relations Board.
Time to Vote
If you work for a Provincially regulated company; after an application for certification filed by the Union a secret ballot vote will be conducted by the Labour Board. Should the vote tally conclude by having a majority of workers vote in favour of Teamster representation, then the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board will issue us a bargaining certificate. At that point we legally become your representative in the work place. If you work for a Federally regulated company the process is simpler. Should we submit an application to the Canada Industrial Relations Board for certification with more than 50% support cards signed, we will automatically be issued a bargaining certificate and become the legal representative in the work place. No vote is required by the CIRB when we present support of the application by over 50% of the employees.
Bargaining Your First Agreement
If the vote is successful the Labour Board will certify Teamsters 395 as your official and legal representative and collective bargaining can begin. Your collective agreement is for you the employees, so it will be driven by what you want to see in your workplace. Your bargaining committee and your Business Agents will identify the priorities and negotiate on your behalf. Your collective agreement will include important items such as seniority, vacations, grievance procedures, wages, benefits and more.
When you decide to unionize, you’re going to get a lot of questions from your coworkers and probably some promises from management. You need to be prepared for this as you enter into organizing. Here are some of the answers to a few of the most common questions and concerns you’re likely to encounter along the road to unionization.
As a non-profit organization, we receive funding from the dues we collect from members. It’s useful to think of it as paying into a security fund that safeguards you in the workplace. Your dues are calculated based on a simple calculation: 2.5 x hourly wage, plus $2.00. This dues structure has been prescribed by the constitution of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. They add up to about 1.5 per cent of your annual wage and are tax deductible. Those dues go towards the cost of staff, arbitration, mediators and is also set aside for a strike fund in the event one is necessary. We also invest in community initiatives that make workplaces and our province better for all workers. These dues come off your pay cheque once a month.
My Employer Follows the Law “I think”
Your employer might follow the law, but that isn’t enough. There are no laws in place to ensure seniority is respected, that there is no favouritism, that you are paid what you deserve, and that you are rewarded for your hard work and dedication to the employer. Employers typically follow the bare minimum of standards, while the Teamsters Union bargains above minimum labour standards, and make sure you’re protected and treated fairly in the workplace.
What if the Boss Finds Out?
The process of forming a union is confidential. When you sign a membership card, neither your employer nor other employees will know you have signed one. The vote to unionize is also completely confidential. If your boss does somehow find out that you are wanting to unionize, there is no legal justification for them to fire you. Under the Saskatchewan Labour Act or Canada Labour Code, you cannot be disciplined or fired for joining or attempting to join a union.
Now my employer says “they will do better”
With a union on your side your employer won’t just say that they ‘will do better’, they will actually have to. Employers make empty promises like this because they know they won’t be held accountable. With the power of the Teamsters behind you, we can help hold them accountable.