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The union advantage

Having a union on your side makes your job and your workplace safer and fairer. Your wellbeing becomes a priority, and your right to fair and equitable treatment gets enforced. You also have access to professional representation and leadership opportunities in your union.

Unions make a difference at work and in your quality of life. We call that difference the union advantage.


Stats on the union advantage

In 2014, British Columbia union members earned on average $5.39 more per hour than their non-union counterparts.

Women who were union members earned on average $6.84 per hour more compared to women without a union at work in 2014. Young workers (aged 15 – 24) earned $4.30 per hour more with a union at work.

That union advantage really adds up. The fair wages and work hours that unions negotiated delivered over $103 Million more every week into the provincial economy through better paychecks for workers to spend on their families and their communities.

The union advantage means more than wages though. It also means safer workplaces and fair and equitable treatment for all employees.

The union advantage means workers are better off with a union. But the advantage doesn’t just belong to union members. When unions raise the bar for better pay, benefits and fairness, everyone benefits.


How does my workplace become organized?

Process for joining a union:

The first thing to keep in mind is that the Canada Labour Code and the BC Labour Code guarantee the right of workers to join a union.  The decision whether a group of workers wishes to be represented by a union is entirely up to those workers.


What starts the union certification process?  Often, it begins with employees at a non-unionized workplace contacting a union and asking it to help the employees “organize” their workplace.  If a group of workers wants to be represented by a union, the Labour Code provides the means for that union to be recognized as the bargaining agent for those employees. This recognition is called Certification.


Step 1 – In order for the union to file an Application for Certification, 45% of the workers must sign a union membership card.  Workers indicate their desire to join a union by signing a union membership card.  Once the 45% threshold has been met, the union can file an application to the BC Labour Relations Board.

Confidentiality – The Labour Code and the Board protect confidentiality about workers that sign a membership card.  The employer will never know who signed a card and the employer has no right to ask who signed a card.

Protections for employees in an organizing campaign – The Labour Code has protections for employees in an organizing campaign, details can be found at the Labour Relations Board Website (www.lrb.bc.ca), specifically under Section 6.3.a & b and 32 of the code.


Step 2 – Once the application has been filed the employer cannot alter wages and other terms or conditions without written consent of the BC Labour Relations Board.  As well, the Board will review the application and in turn will schedule a secret ballot vote within 10 days from the date the application is filed.


Step 3 – The Vote – All employees (whether they signed a union card or not) in the workplace are eligible to vote (except managers).  The vote is conducted by an officer of the Board and is normally conducted at a convenient time in the workplace.


The Voting Process – There are two processes for a vote:

  1. In person vote:  Employees arrive to the location of the vote, provide their name to the officer, who will hand the employee a ballot.   The employee votes and places the ballot in the ballot box.
  2. Mail in vote: The Employees will have a ballot sent to their home address.  There will be envelopes and instructions on how to proceed in mailing the ballots back to the Labour Board.


In either case the Ballot would state “Do you wish to have CUPE Local XXXX represent you? Yes – No.“  Once all employees have voted, if there are no objections, the officer will count the ballots.  If the majority of the employees (50%, plus one) cast a ballot in support of the union, the Board will certify CUPE as your union.