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What the Employer Will Tell You

During the Organizing Campaign, the employer will do everything possible to stop you from having a real voice on the job. The following are just a few of the false statements made by employers to try and influence you against the union. There are many others. That is why it is important to make your decision based on facts, not scare tactics. As you hear or see these things, refer back to this list. We have added the facts for you so you can read both sides. If you have any questions about anything you have heard at work, please call the IBEW organizing department.

Workplace Closures

One of the most common rumours put out by management during an organizing drive is that the business will close if the union is certified. This fear mongering tactic is used during every organizing campaign. This threat should be disregarded as the chances of a business closing are very rare. Union certification normally brings security for the employees who are the main assets of any employer’s business. Fact: threats are illegal.

The Facts

Employers close workplaces, not unions. In our society closures are a fact of life. An employer has the right to close a workplace for business reasons. Closures occur in both union and non-union workplaces. In every case the closures have nothing to do with the union. The normal reason for closure is that the employer has serious financial problems. No one benefits when a workplace closes. As a union we have been faced with the possibility of closures and have learned how to deal with them. The Law It is against the law for an employer to threaten to close the workplace if a union comes in. The law makes it illegal for an employer to threaten or intimidate a worker because he or she joins a union. It would also be illegal for an employer to close a workplace because the employees join a union.

The Truth

is Although the threat of closure is often made, most companies operate here for good business reasons. Most companies sit down with the union and negotiate a contract that will allow them to continue to operate and make a profit. We are always able to agree on a contract. So don’t be scared by threats of shop closure. By supporting the union, and sticking together with your co-workers, you will have more job security than you have now.

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Under the labour laws in Canada, employers are allowed to express their opinions, as long as they do not commit an unfair labour practice. Employers will commonly say or hand out propaganda during an organizing drive. Most of their information makes points which are very similar to the following and are extremely misleading. Here are some examples, using actual quotes from company leaflets.

What they say: “Right now you have a legal right to negotiate for changes and improvements to your working conditions directly with us. Once the Union is certified as the bargaining agent you lose that legal right.”

The facts: Without a Union, you have no legal right to negotiate anything with your employer. And without a legal contract, anything the employer gives you can be taken away at any time.

What they say: “Unionizing will not improve job security.”

The facts: Without a Union, job security simply does not exist. You already know that any time you can be fired or laid off and replaced by someone hired from the street.

What they say: “There is no guarantee the Union would get improved wages or benefits for you.”

The facts: 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. Studies in both Canada & the USA continually show that organized workers earn higher wages and have better benefits than unrepresented workers.

What they say: “…you already have the protection of a legal contract as an employee with…”

The facts: In a nonunion workplace, you do not have a legal contract with the employer. The only protection you have under the Employment Standards Act is that you have the right to be paid the minimum wage, holiday pay etc. You have to file a complaint if the company violates the Act. Who do you know that has successfully filed a labour relations complaint with the Labour Board (OLRB)? As a union we do this all the time and we rarely lose.

What they say: “Your employment with……can only be terminated for proper cause or by the provision of reasonable notice.”

The facts: A company can discipline or fire its unrepresented employees at anytime for any reason – or for no reason. The only significant exceptions are that it cannot legally discipline or fire anyone for Union activities, or on the grounds of race, sex or other human rights violations. Under recent changes to Employment Insurance law, if you are fired by the employer, you lose not only your job, but you could also wind up without EI benefit

What they say:“The Union is only interested in your money.”

The facts: The IBEW is one of the most financially secure Unions in the World. Current IBEW members want to help other unrepresented brothers and sisters organize because every time we get a contract for a new group, it puts pressure on the employer to raise everyone’s wages. Our financial reports are governed by Law, detailing our strong financial position, is available for inspection by any member.

What they say: “The Union needs your money to give its officers fat salaries.”

The facts: They will not tell you about the outrageous salaries of your employer’s top officers. The company doesn’t want you to see what they make; so you can’t see their annual reports. Fact is, without YOU, they wouldn’t have any money for themselves and that’s why they want to stop you from having a Union so managers can keep more money for their own pockets

What they say: “The Union Officials can raise your dues anytime they want.”

The facts: Unions are democratic organizations run by its members. Only Local Union members and elected convention delegates can vote in a democratic manner to change the dues. This is protected by the IBEW Constitution and the Local Union By-laws

What they say: “The IBEW can force you to Strike.” The company may suggest that the IBEW will cause you to strike or to support someone else’s strike.

The facts: Our IBEW agreements contain NO-Strike/No-Lockout clauses during the term of the agreements, and disputes are settled by binding arbitration. Since 1990 Local 353 has successfully negotiated our contract with a no strike and no lock out clause. Experience has proven this to be an effective method of collective bargaining, eliminating the need to go on strike. Persons of good faith and character can always work out their differences if they really want to.

What they say: “By signing a card or voting yes, you sign your life away.” The Union bosses will dominate you.

The facts: By signing an authorization card, you are merely saying you want representation, just read the card. Your boss runs his business by legally binding contracts. A customer wouldn’t hire your company without a contract.

If a contract is good for them, why isn’t it good for you?

A union contract spells out the terms and working conditions of your employment. Companies have Bosses, Unions have leaders and representatives: there is significant difference. Elected IBEW representatives are accountable to the members. Who is your employer accountable to?

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What they say: “The IBEW will take away your right to talk to management.” “The Union will do all your talking for you.” “You won’t be able to see management on your own if the Union gets in.”

The facts: You would still have the same rights as you do now, to discuss anything with management. However, with Union representation, if management refuses to address your problems, you have the full force of your contract and the Brotherhood behind you, enforced by arbitration and the courts, if necessary with your own representatives and lawyers to assist you. Note that management does not mention the fact that if you have a union you can request a steward to be present if management tries to discipline you

What they say: “The Union will decide who gets laid off and who gets what jobs.” The company may suggest that some far-off Union official decides these matters and will play favorites.

The facts: The truth is that the company, as laid out in the collective agreement, maintains the right to manage (or mis-manage) as they see fit. The company, not the union, will decide whom to layoff and when. The only difference here is that they cannot terminate your employment without just cause (eg. Shortage of work, other). If you do get laid off unfairly, you will have complete, fair and impartial access to the union’s hiring hall.

What they say: “You may lose the perks you already have.” The facts: IBEW members have better working conditions, wages, and benefits, not worse. The IBEW has existed for over 120 years (Nov. 28, 1891) by making life better for workers. The fact is, the company will not guarantee you anything.

A Union Agreement is the best guarantee you will ever have at work.

BY LAW The day your request to be certified is registered at the Labour Board, is the day the company is prohibited from modifying any conditions of employment. After your Union is “certified” by the OLRB, they are legally bound by the Provincial Agreement.

What they say: “We won’t be One Big Happy Family anymore if the Union gets in.” The company will suggest that they won’t be able to be flexible anymore or do nice things for the employees.

The facts: By and large, it’s not a family relationship, working for wages is a business relationship. You get an hour of pay for an hour of work. Workers and management of all kinds get along just fine with the Unions. In fact, the IBEW is known as a pioneer in many of the cooperative initiatives that are a model of Labour-Management harmony today.

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What they say: “Give us another chance.” They will promise to do better if they can just avoid interference by the Union. But think about it; if your interest in being a union member never came up, neither would their promises. Do you not find it curious how they were never really acting on your concerns before?

The facts: A Union Contract is your only real guarantee. If your employer is truly willing to make all these promises, they should be willing to negotiate a FAIR contract after you vote “YES.” They should be willing to PUT IT IN WRITING.

Some workers have listened to management’s promises only to find out, the hard way, that most promises are forgotten or clawed back after the Union is no longer a threat to the company’s power.
These are just a few examples out of many that employers will use to try and influence you to not join a union. It is so important to make your decision based on facts, not made-up, scare stories. If you have any questions, please contact the IBEW.

Companies can and will resist employee efforts to speak with a unified voice. Often, companies will try to intimidate and even fire workers for speaking out. They will threaten to close the company if employees unionize. These tactics, while illegal, are often used successfully to deny your rights.

That’s why it is important to contact the IBEW before you start any efforts so that we can advise and guide you. All conversations between you and the IBEW are confidential.

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The Boss wants to divide employees.
The IBEW wants to unite workers!

The Boss wants to confuse employees
The IBEW wants to educate workers!

They want to scare their employees
The IBEW wants to empower workers!

Employers’ want to retain a system where he has the power to make all decisions for you!

The IBEW wants a real decision making partnership where workers have the right to fully participate in every decision that affects them and the jobs they perform!