Building a modern Labour Movement
One of the myths you hear about unions is that, although they may have been necessary in the previous century, particularly in the industrial sector, they are now outdated and are no longer relevant in a society dominated by knowledge workers. A variation of this argument is that unions are fine for blue-collar workers but have nothing to offer professionals. Such statements are typically uttered without much in the way of evidence or explanation.
While the labour movement does have its roots in jobs based on physical labour, many knowledge workers now seek the benefits and protections of collective agreements—increasingly so, as we witness the growth of precarious (part-time and contract) work, shrinking public sector budgets and demands that employees do more with less by working unpaid overtime and using technology to stay connected to work 24/7.
There are many kinds of workers who are unionized in Ontario, including physicians, nurses, teachers, university faculty, actors, lawyers, information technology professionals, engineers, police officers and fire fighters. AMAPCEO already represents over 13,000 public sector professionals, including policy analysts, economists, auditors, nursing supervisors, chaplains, administrative assistants, pharmacists and many more.
Joining a union may not seem necessary until you have a problem with management, but in fact unions help to promote stability in the workplace, especially during changes like restructuring or new management, and actually assist in reducing workplace problems before they arise. Collective agreements help both employees and management maintain a good working environment by codifying clear rules that everyone understands, thereby preventing favouritism and eliminating arbitrary decision-making.
A collective agreement will also contain a dispute resolution (or grievance) process under which disagreements can be heard, ultimately by an independent arbitrator, ensuring fairness and accountability. Indeed, it is usually a desire for procedural fairness, rather than monetary concerns, that is often behind most unionizing drives.
As long as we work for a living there will always be a need for employees to have a collective voice in the decision-making process in the workplace. AMAPCEO supports your right to have a say in decisions that affect you—we can give you the means to take control of situations that impact your own future. The need to support yourself and your family, while working in a fair and safe workplace, is just as relevant today as it was in the past.
–Prokash Mondal, Children and Youth Services, Ontario Public Service, 10 years