Employers cannot threaten workers who unionize

Dear Working Wise: I live in a province where being a “union member” isn’t always popular, yet I recognize the value of having a union at a workplace.

Dear Working Wise:

I live in a province where being a “union member” isn’t always popular, yet I recognize the value of having a union at a workplace. Right now, there is no union at my worksite, but I and some of my co-workers are interested in joining one. What do we need to do to form or join a union? What can my supervisor do to me if they find out about my interest? Can I be demoted or fired if we’re not successful? Is there a difference between a private and public sector union? Signed, Wanting to be a union member

Dear Wanting:

Well, you are right. Union membership is not as common in Alberta as it is in other parts of Canada. Approximately 30 per cent of Canadian workers belong to unions, but only 22 per cent of Albertans are unionized.

There are two ways to start the process of unionizing your worksite. The most common is to work with an existing union operating in your sector to help organize your worksite.

You can also create a new union by getting employees together to draft a constitution, sign up members and elect officers. Either way, a union must be certified in order to have the right to negotiate a collective agreement with an employer on behalf of employees in that bargaining unit.

Certification involves a union submitting an application to the Alberta Labour Relations Board (Board) and satisfying several conditions, in order to have a representation vote among employees of that worksite.

So long as the majority of those who vote are in favour of being represented by that union, the Board certifies the union. In cases where an employer voluntarily recognizes a union, this certification process is bypassed.

All Canadian workers eligible for union representation are covered by labour relations legislation. The legislation protects employees against employers who threaten to take actions such as shutting down a worksite or reducing wages to penalize employees that join a union or participate in union activities.

Employees in Alberta who experience threats from their employer should contact the Board at 780-422-5926 in Edmonton or 403-297-4334 in Calgary.

In Alberta, the majority of workers fall under the provisions of the provincial Labour Relations Code, however certain groups, such as those working in the public service and in federally-regulated sectors, fall under other types of labour relations legislation.

One key difference in the legislation governing the public and private sector is that strikes and lockouts are prohibited for most public sector unions and employers, therefore they must use compulsory binding arbitration to resolve their collective bargaining disputes.

Additional information on the collective bargaining process and the rights and obligations of unions and employers can be found in A Guide to Alberta’s Labour Laws at www.alrb.gov.ab.ca/guidecontents.html.

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. This column is provided for general information.

Just Posted

Scares and chills await at haunted house in Red Deer

Zed Haunted House helps raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer District

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

Queens raised $12,035 for the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Turkey to reveal details of probe into Khashoggi’s killing

ISTANBUL — In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Continue reading

Utah truck driver is jailed without bond after crash kills 6

HEBER, Utah — A man suspected of driving under the influence remained… Continue reading

A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US

TAPACHULA, Mexico — A ragged army of Honduran migrants streamed through southern… Continue reading

Postal workers to begin strikes in 4 Canadian cities Monday if deal not reached

OTTAWA — The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees says it will… Continue reading

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the… Continue reading

“I don’t feel real”: Mental stress mounting after Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Amy Cross has a hard time explaining the… Continue reading

Toronto residents set to vote Monday on the next four years of civic leaders

Toronto’s municipal election campaign, marked by unprecedented provincial interference, ends Monday when… Continue reading

Former PQ minister Lise Payette remembered as role model for female politicians

MONTREAL — Members from across Quebec’s political spectrum gathered at a downtown… Continue reading

Most Read