Skip to main content

Unionized Employees

For Employees

No matter which BC labour union you are a part of, it’s important to understand which Canadian rights fall under which legal framework. Is it a human rights issue? Do you have a complaint related to fair pay, or harassment? iIt’s crucial to understand that unions, while powerful, don’t always have the answers to every workplace dilemma. There are instances, often overlooked, where the protective umbrella of a union might fall short. In such moments, only the expertise of a seasoned lawyer can guide you through work-related complaints or issues, ensuring your rights are uncompromised.

What is a Union

A union bridges the gap between corporate interests and fair treatment of employees. Corporate interests oftentimes do not align with what is right and just for its workers. Unions act as intermediaries between both parties to mediate the situation and compromise on paint points. This way an independent third party (the union) can assess the needs of each side and reach an agreement that is somewhat neutral when it comes to workplace conduct. 

The union is the official and legal representative of each employee member. They have a duty to represent you in good faith and without discrimination. It is incumbent upon the union to handle cases in a just and reasonable manner, ensuring that no arbitrary decisions are made.

BC Collective Agreements

The Collective Agreement lays out the rules and regulations and how each party is to conduct themselves. It’s a contract that both employees and employers must adhere to. The agreement outlines topics such as pay increase, conflict resolution, how to make complaints, addressing discrimination and much more.

Collective agreements are created in accordance with federal and provincial legislation. Meaning that in most instances, the terms laid out in the collective agreement will supersede Canadian and BC law. 

Benefits of Unions

Unions have played a pivotal role in shaping the modern workplace. Beyond advocating for better wages and safer working conditions, they have championed equality, justice, and respect for all workers. Their influence transcends mere advocacy, fostering workplace cultures where every voice is valued.

How to Join a Union

If you’re among those seeking robust representation for vital workplace concerns like safety, compensation, and benefits, the path to collective bargaining just became smoother. Gone are the days of the cumbersome two-step system. Now, when a clear majority of employees voice their intention to unionize, the certification is granted. 

This approach mirrors the practices in regions like Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. So, if over 55% of employees show interest, the union gets certified. However, if the interest lies between 45% and 55%, a secret ballot vote will seal the deal. Dive in, and empower yourself with the collective strength of a union.

Get to Know Your Union Representative

In the unfortunate event that you have a workplace complaint, it’s always beneficial to have open communication with your union rep. They are well-versed in the Collective Agreement and can provide guidance on various workplace issues. Building a rapport with your union rep can be immensely beneficial in the long run.

Union Fees

Being part of a union comes with its costs, commonly known as union dues. These fees are used to fund union activities, provide legal representation, and support members in need. It’s essential to be aware of these fees and factor them into your employment decisions. You must carefully assess the collective agreement and determine for yourself if the compensation is worth it. At the end of the day, financial planning is a big part of your life planning as well. 

Disadvantages of Unions to Employees

While unions offer numerous benefits, they also come with certain drawbacks. Aside from them taking away from your monthly salary, some workplace violations are NOT covered by the Collective Agreement. For instance, many Human Rights issues don’t fall within the Collective Agreement. In such cases, you might need to seek legal counsel independently, without the union’s involvement.

Sometimes it’s a challenge for a union to represent a large workforce. You may feel that your sole complaint won’t be taken seriously by union reps. A lawyer will represent you and you only. Lawyers, with their deep understanding of employment law, can navigate the intricate legal pathways that might be beyond a union’s purview. This doesn’t only include human rights violations. This could be violations within the collective agreement, where you feel one of the parties committed an offense.

At Ascent Employment Law, we have been representing employees with union disputes and fighting for their rights. With decades of experience, we’re not just advisors; we’re partners in your professional journey. If you ever find yourself in a legal quandary, remember, expertise is just a call away. We’re here, ready to guide, advise, and support.

How do Negotiations Work?

Negotiations are a delicate balance of give and take. They shape the future of the workplace, defining rights, responsibilities, and benefits. Being part of these negotiations, even as an observer, can offer invaluable insights into the workings of the union and the broader employment landscape. Your union will negotiate and defend rights on your behalf. From payment issues, to safety and harassment, a BC labour union is there to ensure that you are treated fairly.

The right team, dedicated to your success