F.A.Q.’S

Get the facts!

WHAT IS A UNION?

A Union is a group of workers who form an organization to gain:

  • Respect on the Job,
  • Better wages, benefits and working conditions,
  • More flexibility for work and family needs,
  • A counter-balance to the unchecked power of the boss,
  • A voice in improving the quality of their products or services.
  • A union is a group of workers who form a democratic organization to gain respect on the job, better wages and fair benefits.
  • A union gives workers a voice in the workplace and ensures equality.
  • Many don’t know that over the last 200 years working men and women in unions, have fought successfully for laws to establish an eight hour work day, overtime premiums, weekends, end child labour abuse, establish pensions, create and enforce strong workplace safety rules, create Old Age Security, Employment Insurance and raise minimum wage and overtime benefits. Globally, unions continue to make certain that, working men and women of the working class receive fair compensation and benefits for their hard work.
  • Unions fight for what workers deserve – nothing more, nothing less.
WHAT DO UNIONS DO?

They protect you and your job. How? They do it by:

Collective Agreements: We negotiate with the employers to set conditions that both sides are willing to work under.

Constitutions: Members create a set of rules which our union must abide by. It’s a democratic process for running the union.

Voting: We vote by secret ballot for the election of officers. We vote by either a show of hands or by ballots for the passage of union betterment and monetary issues.

Stewards: we appoint job stewards or union representatives to ensure fairness and contract adherence on the job.

Grievances: we grieve unfair labour practices to the proper government bodies. We protect worker rights.

Arbitration: We seek arbitration on issues that cannot be resolved in an easy manner.

Union Dues: We collect union dues to enable us to do the aforementioned work. All members vote on the amount of union dues that will be paid by the membership.

Unions guarantee rewards for hard work and initiative.

• IBEW Electricians earn an average double the pay of their nounion counterparts.
• Seventy-three percent of union members in the private industry get health benefits on the job.
• Seventy percent of union members in private companies are covered by defined-benefit pensions that guarantee a benefit.

Unions help remedy discrimination in the workplace.

• Union contracts help make sure that everyone is treated fairly and equally on the job.
Unions raise living standards for the whole community.
• For decades, union membership paved the way to a strong and growing middle class. As union membership declined, the gap between the wealthy and everyone else grew.
• Better wages and benefits through unions mean that more families can make it on their own in the community—and the wage and benefit floor is lifted for everyone.

Unions make Companies work better.

• Unions raise professional standards. Union workers have a say in decisions that affect the quality of the products they make and the services they deliver. Unions train more workers each year than any organisation.
• Studies show that by giving workers a voice in how work is done, unions raise productivity by 19 to 24 percent in manufacturing, 17 to 38 percent in construction and up to 16 percent in hospitals.
• Unions help make sure our nation prioritise working people’s issues—they hold corporations accountable, make workplaces safe, protect Social Security and retirement, fight for quality health care and make sure working people have time to spend with their families. If unions weren’t out there fighting for these issues, who would be?

HOW DOES THE UNION WORK?

A union is a democratic organization. The basic idea of union is that by joining together with fellow employees to form a union, workers have a greater ability to improve conditions at the work site. In other words, “in unity there is strength.”

WHO RUNS THE UNION?

…THE COMPANY SAYS THAT THE UNION IS JUST A BUNCH OF OUTSIDERS – A THIRD PARTY.

You run the union. The union is not “outsiders,” it is you, the worker.

  • You Elect your own Local Union Officers
  • You Run your own Local Affairs
  • You Have your own Negotiating Committee
  • You Make the Decisions on your own Contract
  • You Have your own Shop Stewards
  • You Decide important policies and actions
  • You Elect your International Union Officers
  • You Elect your own Delegates to the International Conventions
  • You -The Membership- are the final voice of authority and decision
  • You Are the Real Union Boss

Our union exists for one and only one major reason – the good of our members. Our union, the IBEW, accomplishes as a Brotherhood what  cannot be accomplished as individuals.

HOW MUCH ARE DUES?

The dues will depend upon what the local needs to operate efficiently and effectively. However, the dues will be set by you, as a local union. No dues are paid until the organizing campaign is completed and the workers have been fully processed and are in as a member at the local union meeting. Currently (2011) basic monthly dues at local 353 are $34.70.

 

 

Did you know that Union dues are 100% tax deductable?

WHERE DO UNION DUES GO?

Union dues are divided between the International Union and the workers’ own local union, which will have its own treasury. Dues are used to run your union and keep it strong.

CAN A UNION NEGOTIATE BETTER WAGES FOR ME?

Yes. : In every single case, when the IBEW has organized unrepresented employees our contracts always contain improvements in wages, benefits, pension and working conditions. In all cases, the increases have been substantial. Once certified and any transitional agreements have expired, all new members will enjoy all the benefits of the existing Provincial Collective Agreement.

During union organizing campaigns, employers will almost always try to convince you otherwise, but the facts speak for themselves. Studies by Statistics Canada have consistently shown that union members enjoy better wages, benefits and conditions than unrepresented workers. When you think about this it actually makes sense. The labour laws require employers to negotiate with their unionized workers. As a result, organized workers get to address wages, benefits, working conditions and many other issues with their employer. A combined voice clearly gives unionized employees a much more powerful voice and the end results speak for themselves.

DOES JOINING A UNION PROTECT MY JOB SECURITY?

Yes. Again countless employers during an organizing drive have claimed that unions can not increase your job security, but we believe you can make that determination for yourself.
First, as a union member, you can only be disciplined and/or terminated with just and reasonable cause. A negotiated grievance procedure provides unionized workers an avenue to dispute discipline or termination if they disagree with management. Without a union, the employer does not need just and reasonable cause for discipline and/or termination.
• Union contracts help make sure that everyone is treated fairly and equally on the job.

Unions raise living standards for the whole community.

• For decades, union membership paved the way to a strong and growing middle class. As union membership declined, the gap between the wealthy and everyone else grew.
• Better wages and benefits through unions mean that more families can make it on their own in the community—and the wage and benefit floor is lifted for everyone.

Unions guarantee rewards for hard work and initiative

WILL THE UNION MAKE US GO ON STRIKE?

Since 1990 Local 353 has successfully negotiated our contract with a no strike and no lock out clause. We have found this to be an effective method of collective bargaining and eliminating the need to go on strike.

CAN I GET FIRED FOR HELPING THE UNION OR FOR ATTENDING A UNION MEETING?

It is illegal for you to be fired, punished or harassed for attending union meetings or for supporting a union. The law protects your right as workers to improve your working conditions.

WHAT BENEFITS CAN THE UNION GUARANTEE?

The union can only guarantee one thing; with the support, strength, and unity of the workers, working together we will win the best wage and benefit package possible. Once certified and any transitional agreements have expired, all new members will enjoy all the benefits of the existing Provincial Collective Agreement.

WHAT ABOUT UNION CORRUPTION AND DISHONESTY?

The company would like you to think that all union officials everywhere are corrupt. Most union leaders are decent, honest people dedicated to improving the lives of all workers. Unions aren’t perfect – nothing is. At least union officials are elected, and bad ones can be voted out. Remember, you, the members are the union.

WILL THE SHOP CLOSE IF I VOTE FOR A UNION?

It is against the law for the company to close or threaten to close because of union activity. Remember, companies go out of business because people stop buying their product, not because their workers are treated fairly.

WHAT IF MY EMPLOYER CAN'T AFFORD A UNION CONTRACT?

No one wants your company to close, especially a real union, one that represents the best interest of electrical workers. If the company says they can’t afford the wage and benefit increase the union may help the company develop a business plan to phase in the proposed changes over a short period of time: at least until they have fulfilled their present obligation to contracts that were in place before the workers voted to join the IBEW.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT THE COMPANY TO DO TO TRY TO GET US TO VOTE AGAINST THE UNION?

Usually the company tries to influence employees with scare-talk, anti-union speeches and letters. On the other hand, be prepared for the company to be on their best behavior until the campaign is over. Some companies even make improvements during a union campaign, hoping employees will forget about their past problems.

DOES THE COMPANY HAVE TO NEGOTIATE IF THE UNION WINS?

No. There is already a collective agreement in place. By law a province wide collective agreement takes effect immediately. Most often, a time sensitive transitional agreement is developed to allow the employer time to complete previous commitments, maintain their current customers and adjust their practices. The law requires the company to bargain “in good faith”

IS IT EASY TO GET A UNION IN?

No, it takes the work of employees dedicated to helping their coworkers. It takes the active involvement of as many employees as possible including the local union organizers lawyers and staff. But, the simple fact is, if a majority of the workers vote yes for the IBEW then your shop will be signatory and obligated to follow the terms of local 353’s collective agreement. This includes union wages and benefits. The cost to the Union is substantial but that won’t deter us in doing “what ever it takes” to help unrepresented electricians join our Brotherhood.

The Company will say a lot of things to keep you from gaining your rights!

Unions raise living standards for the whole community.
• As union membership increases, the gap between the wealthy and everyone else shrinks. Union membership paved the way to a strong and growing middle class.
• Better wages and benefits through unions mean that families become more financially secure. Unions raise the wage and benefit floor for everyone.
• Studies show that communities where many of the workers have a union are also communities with lower poverty rates.

Employment Standards Act

Weekly Hours and Overtime FAQ’s

What is the regular work week?
The standard work week is 44 hours a week.

(Note: If you belong to a union, check your collective agreement. You probably have better hours of work and overtime provisions than the Employment Standards Act.)

Are there limits to the number of hours my boss can make me work?
The law says the maximum is 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week. But it also says:

  • Your boss can make you work up to13 hours in a day and up to 60 hours a week with your consent.
  • The Director of Employment Standards can approve a work week of longer than 60 hours, if you consent.

Under certain circumstances, you might also be required to work longer hours than the maximum or during times when you’d otherwise be off work:

  • Emergencies, unforeseen events and urgent repair work.
  • Seasonal operations.
  • Delivery of essential public services.
What about days off?
You have to be given at least 24 hours off in a row every work week or at least 48 hours off in a row every two weeks. This means you could be required to work 12 straight days without a day off.
Am I entitled to a break?
Normally, you’re entitled to a 1/2-hour unpaid break after five hours of work in a row. But your boss can ask you to agree to take two 15-minute unpaid breaks during this period instead.

Employers don’t have to provide coffee breaks, but if they do the breaks must be paid and included in the number of hours worked.

Employees who are required to remain at the workplace during a coffee break or other type of break must be paid for that time. If an employee is free to leave the workplace during the coffee break or other type of break, the employer doesn’t have to pay for the time.

When was the last time your employer paid you

time and a half for the overtime hours you worked?

How is overtime calculated?
After working 44 hours in a week, you’re entitled to at least one and a half times your regular wage rate unless you and your boss agree to paid time off instead of overtime. You have to be given that time off within 3 months of when you earned it, unless you agree to a 12-month period.
Can I refuse overtime?
No. The law does not give workers that right. Retail workers can refuse to work on Sundays or public holidays.
Are all workers covered by these rules?
No. There is a long list of exceptions regarding when overtime is paid.
What if I'm still not sure which rules apply to me?
Contact:

Ontario Ministry of Labour’s Employment Standards Information Centre at 416 326 7160 or 1 800 531 5551,

or visit a Ministry of Labour Office in person.

OR

Join a Union!

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