What will my boss say?

Employers frequently use the same statements and stories to try and make you change your mind about forming a union. How many of these phrases have you heard from your boss?

“But we’re like family!”

Your employer is not your family. Your employer hires you because they need the work completed, and can fire you when they don’t need you anymore or when they consider you more trouble than you’re worth. They hold your wages and your job security in their hands. Does that sound like a family?

“We would pay you more if we could afford it, but we can’t.”

Businesses focus on making money. You help them make that money. It is not wrong to ask for your fair share. You deserve it.

“All the union wants is your money.”

Union dues are 1.25% of your basic wage, and you don’t start paying until you and your coworkers have voted on and approved a collective agreement. That works out to only $25 if you made $2000 a month. That pays for negotiators that will get you the best collective agreement possible, union representatives that will make sure your boss follows that agreement, education that will teach you how to help make the union even stronger, labour relations assistance to help you navigate employment issues outside of your collective agreement… and the list goes on. What is that worth to you?

“We don’t need an outside or third party. We can work it out.”

The union is not a third party. “The union” is you and your fellow workers, who have joined together to demand the things you know you deserve. How long have you been trying to “work it out” for? Has anything changed? And even if things have changed, they can change again for the worse.

“After all we’ve done for you!”

Maybe you are one of the employees lucky enough to be treated well by your boss. Congratulations! So what if your boss quits? Or is promoted? Or becomes ill and has to leave? What if a new manager is brought in? A manager that decides that they don’t like the way things were being run under the old manager. Or what if you and the new manager have a personality conflict?

Under a collective agreement, workplace conditions are agreed on by you and your coworkers, and it is illegal for your boss to alter those conditions without the union’s consent.

“We’ll close down” or “We’ll just get rid of everyone”.

Section 149 of the Labour Relations Code makes it illegal for an employer to bully an employee “by intimidation, dismissal, threat of dismissal or any other kind of threat,” into not joining a union.

Click here to read the Labour Relations Code (relevant section: 149).

“The union will make you go on strike.”

The union is you and your coworkers, and it is a democracy. If the majority of you want to negotiate without striking then that’s what you’ll do. On the other hand, if the majority of you agree to strike as a last resort, that’s your decision.

“The union will change everything, including the things you like.”

Again, the union is comprised of you and your coworkers. If you all think that the current policies and procedures work, don’t vote to change them. Focus on changing the things that aren’t working.

“We were going to give you a raise, but now that you’re forming a union we aren’t allowed to.”

After the union applies for certification, there is a mandatory freeze period set out by the Labour Relations Code. Your employer is not allowed to alter the rate of pay during this period, except with the permission of the union. And the union will not say no to you making more money.

Click here to read the Labour Relations Code (relevant section: 147).