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Sometimes it can seem like your employer has much more power than you do. It can be hard to stand up to them if you don’t like something they’re doing, or to ask them for better working conditions. This is where being part of a union can be helpful. One individual employee might seem replaceable and not very powerful, but most businesses can’t run without employees, so when lots of employees join together in unions, they can have a lot more power over what happens to employees.

The point of a union is to negotiate with employers to get better employment conditions for their members. They can also help you out if you’re being treated unfairly or having a disagreement with your employer.

Do I have to join a union?

No, you don’t have to join a union. However, if you do choose to join one, no one is allowed to discriminate against you because of your involvement with the union. Do note that most unions require some sort of a fee which is based on a percentage of your income.

What is a Collective Employment Agreement?

One of the jobs of unions is to negotiate with employers to get better employment agreements for their members. If the union has negotiated an agreement that applies to all their members, this is called a Collective Employment Agreement (CEA). Each employee can also have individual terms that just apply to them in an Individual Employment Agreement (IEA). If you don’t belong to a union, you will just have an IEA.

If you’re a member of a union and there is a CEA in place that covers your work, you’re automatically bound by the CEA.

In what ways the Union can support me?

As well as negotiating Collective Employment Agreements, unions can help you in other ways. If you think your employer is breaking your employment agreement, treating you unfairly or has fired you without good reason or without following a proper process, a union might be able to help. As well as giving you advice about your employment, unions can provide support people who can go with you to meetings with your employer and advocate for you. This can be much easier than facing your employer by yourself.

What is a Union strike?

A strike is where multiple employees stop working or stop doing parts of their job as a protest. It’s only legal to go on strike if you’re a member of a union that is bargaining for a collective agreement or if you’re striking for health and safety reasons. If you go on a legal strike, your employer doesn’t have to pay you.


How can my employer ‘lock me out’ if I participate in a union strike?

Your employer might be allowed to ‘lock you out’ if you’re a member of a union that is bargaining for a collective agreement. This means that they refuse to let you come to work or do certain parts of your job. An employer can only lock you out if they’re doing it to try to get your union to agree to something in a collective agreement. If they lock you out legally, they don’t have to pay you. If the lock-out isn’t legal, then they will still have to pay you for the time you weren’t allowed to work.

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