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Know Your Rights

Joining a union is your legal right.

The decision to unionize is an important one, and the choice to join AMAPCEO is your legal right. Freedom of Association, or the right to associate (join a union), is protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Each province has their own legislation surrounding labour and unions, but the Charter of Rights and Freedoms takes precedence over all provincial laws. 

Employers cannot threaten you or fire you for considering joining a union.

There are meaningful restrictions on an employer’s behavior while employees are considering joining a union. Employers cannot shut down the workplace or fire you during a union drive. They also cannot coerce, intimidate, interrogate, threaten, or bribe you and your coworkers. Most public sector managers are familiar with these rules and know not to violate the law.

Your right to express support for unionizing is protected, but you also have responsibilities. Discussions or activism about union related issues can take place in your work environment, but must only occur during non-working hours (on a break, before or after work.) You have the right to express your views on unionizing through posters, buttons, and other visual items. Showing your support in the workplace can greatly impact the results of the vote, so it is important that you and your colleagues are open about your desire to form a union.  

Joining a union is straightforward. 

In Ontario, forming a union is a two-step process that involves card-signing and a secret ballot vote. To trigger a vote, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) requires at least 40% of eligible employees to have signed union membership cards, however AMAPCEO won’t request a vote until there is a significant majority who have signed cards. 

Your employer will not know how you voted.

Once a vote is triggered, a secret ballot vote is conducted by the OLRB within a week. Votes typically take place at the workplace. Employers are not permitted to keep you from voting in the secret ballot vote. The ballots are counted by the OLRB and the employer never has access to them. The only way your employer would learn about how you voted is if you chose to make that information public. 

You have everything to gain.

Once an application for union certification is filed with the OLRB, there is a statutory freeze on your current terms and conditions of employment that lasts throughout the time it takes to negotiate a first collective agreement – in other words, during the certification/bargaining process, the employer cannot unilaterally change your working conditions. The employer is required to bargain in good faith. AMAPCEO’s goal is always to formalize benefits you currently have and seek improvements.

You do not pay dues until you have a successful collective agreement.

If the secret ballot vote is successful, you are unionized, but you still do not pay dues until you and your coworkers have negotiated your first collective agreement. There are no retroactive dues for this time period and no initiation fees.

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Unless you chose to identify yourself, the employer doesn’t find out if you signed a card to unionize or who voted which way in the secret ballot whether you’re a permanent employee, on fix term contract, or still on your probation period.