Draft Notes for Union Organising 101

Brian Burch

Brian Burch is a shop steward and health and safety rep with Labourers 183, which represents the staff at 43rd Housing Co-op. He is also a part of the CoAction Staff Association and sees a real need for both types of organisations.

What is a union?

Ontario Labour Relations Act: “Trade union means an organization of employees formed for purposes that include the regulation of relations between employees and employers.”

From Wikipedia: A trade union (British English), labour union (Canadian English) or labor union (American English) is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as higher pay, increasing the number employees an employer hires, and better working conditions.

Why Unionise?

From:    The Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A UNION?
The union’s goals in a workplace are its members’ goals:
• Job Security
• Health and Safety in the Workplace
• Pay Equity
• Hours of work
• Employment Equity
• Fair Wages and Benefits
• Dignity and Respect (union security)
• Democratization of the work place

Process of Unionising:

(a) Voluntary Recognition OLRA: Voluntary recognition (3.1) For the purposes of this Act, voluntary recognition of a trade union is considered to occur when an employer and the trade union agree that the employer recognizes the trade union as the exclusive bargaining agent of the employees in a defined bargaining unit and the agreement is in writing signed by the parties.

(b) Certification

In Ontario if 40% of the employees of a workplace sign a card indicating a desire to form a union an OLRB supervised vote is to be held. If the majority of those voting support joining a union, a bargaining unit can be formed. There can be challenges, such as determining the make-up of the bargaining unit, that occur during this process.

Negotiations Process:

Whether there is voluntary recognition or a certification vote, the process of getting a contract is the same. Employees and representatives of the union meet to determine their priorities and the employers do the same. Proposals are exchanged and both parties bargain in good faith until a contract is agreed to. Conciliation and mediation services are available from the Ministry of Labour to assist both parties to come to a mutual agreement.

See: http://hamilton.cupe.ca/www/s46fd4b6d02b8e for the formal
steps of collective bargaining in Ontario.

Unions in the Co-op Sector

Co-op housing staff in the GTA are represented by Local 333 of Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union Canada; Local 183 of the Labourers’
Union of North America; Local 304 of the Christian Labour Association of Canada; CUPE 1281;  CHFT staff belong to CAW local 40.


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