A union is a collection of employees who have chosen to organize and protect each other’s rights by working as a collective. If you are a member of a union, membership offers that protection. The intricate ways in which a union works allow any member to bring forth grievances or concerns and to have their rights protected as union representatives go to work addressing the information brought forth.
Here is how unions protect employee rights.
1. Unions Fight for Better Pay
Unionized workers are statistically known to receive better pay than their non-unionized counterparts. They reinforce pay standards and routinely renegotiate contracts to ensure members are adequately paid for their work. A part of ‘better pay’ involves regular wage increases that are standardized. This means the more time you invest in a company, the higher your wage will be.
2. Unions Reinforce Fair Pay for Women
The average unionized worker in Canada gets paid $5.14 more hourly than their non-union counterpart. In the workplace, who are often paid less than men, union members make $6.88 more hourly than those who do not belong to a union.
Collective agreements help support women in the workplace, ensuring that they aren’t paid less than men despite putting in the same hours and work.
3. Unions Fight for Better Work Conditions
Traditionally, unions have fought predominantly for better work conditions. More than pay, negotiations and protests will lead to fair hours, a fair amount of breaks, and more favourable terms for employees. Union contracts have led to more benefits, workplace hazard protections, and more throughout history. If there are issues relating to unfair work conditions, that’s what unions will often target when a contract expires or if there are serious unaddressed hazards at work.
4. Unions Fight for Safe Work
Another area where unions protect employee rights is providing some backbone in allowing workers to refuse work that they deem unsafe. No matter what sector you work in, employees cannot be forced to do work that they feel is overly hazardous.
An unfair employer may threaten a non-unionized employee with a dismissal in such an event. When you’re a part of a union, though, an entire organization of people is there to ensure that doesn’t happen.
5. Union Dues Are Paid to Support the Union
A union collects dues from each member, determined by the local union’s bylaws. Dues vary according to job, hours worked, and other factors your union may decide. These dues are essentially a cost of membership, and those funds are used to fund the cost of bargaining, enforcing collective agreements, and the cost of campaigns that the union conducts. Although union dues can mean a deduction on one’s paycheque, the money goes to a good cause.
6. Unions Protect Against Unjust Treatment
If you are ever treated unfairly, harassed, penalized unjustly, or if an employer violates the terms and conditions of employment in a unionized environment, the union steps in on your behalf, ensuring your rights are respected. Suppose you feel like you’re being penalized due to ageism or discrimination, the union steps in. They can aid in hiring employment lawyers like ELT and will work hard to resolve any unfair treatment quickly and effectively.
7. Unions Protect Against Unjust Dismissal
Not only will a union work to ensure you aren’t unjustly penalized or discriminated against, but they’ll protect your job from unjust dismissal. Most union employees cannot be legally fired without ‘just cause’ through collective bargaining agreements. Non-union workers don’t have a similar advantage. This makes it very difficult for an employer to fire an employee and ensures you’re not terminated for unfair reasons or at all in many cases.
8. Unions Help New Parents’ with Adequate Leave
New parents who want to take maternity leave or parental leave may feel pressure from their employer to return to work earlier than they intend or to continue sporadic work throughout a leave. This is against what a worker is legally entitled to under the law.
Unions help reinforce standards like these and battle against similar violations of the ESA or Employment Standards Act. With a union, no employer can refuse or cancel one’s parental or maternity leave without being confronted by union-hired legal representatives.
9. Unions Require Employers to Abide by a Contract
An employment contract you sign when you start work is not always in the employee’s favour. It’s written by the employer and is designed to protect the employer, not the employee. However, a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by your union necessitates an employer following what’s legally required of them.
A violation can mean serious legal consequences, handled by an employment lawyer on your behalf. They inherently give more power to the worker. No longer is a worker on their own when there’s a problem in the workplace. They have a union that’s more than willing to look into incidents and issues that get reported to them.