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Workers can have a voice at work by coming together to form a union. Learn how to organize a union at your workplace.

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Join AUPE

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Do not read this on your work time or work device.

 

To join AUPE, start by contacting AUPE’s Organizing Department.

Call 1-855-930-3401 or email organize@aupe.org but not on work time!

An experienced Organizer can talk to you about joining AUPE and help you start the process. All conversations are confidential. Please do not talk with anyone at work about joining a union until you have spoken with an AUPE Organizer.

What steps are involved in joining?

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Although each organizing drive is unique, they all follow the same basic steps:

First, a core committee of trusted co-workers reflecting a variety of backgrounds and jobs within your workplace gathers to plan and carry out the organizing strategy with support from your Organizer.

Next, a strong majority of the people in your workplace will need to sign a petition saying that you want to join AUPE (but don’t sign on work time!). Your employer will never see who signs. The Alberta Labour Relations Board will verify the petitions and check that enough people have signed to initiate a vote.

The next step is a secret ballot vote conducted by the Alberta Labour Relations Board. If the majority of the people who come out to vote, vote YES, AUPE is now your union!

At this stage, you will have the right to union representation, which means that you will have support from AUPE if your employer tries to discipline you or change the terms of your employment. You will also be able to access all the services and benefits available to AUPE members.

Finally, you and your coworkers will work with AUPE staff to negotiate with your employer to create your first collective agreement, a legally binding contract between a union and an employer that sets the terms and conditions of employment. AUPE members participate in this process by giving feedback on your top priorities for bargaining, joining the bargaining committee, and voting on your contract.

You will only start to pay union dues after you and your coworkers have voted to bring in a collective agreement that brings improvements to your compensation and working conditions. Union dues are the way union members pool their resources to build collective power.

AUPE’s dues rate is 1.25% of a member’s basic salary, which means that for each $100 you make, $1.25 will go to the union. Dues are tax deductible and do not apply to overtime or shift premium rates. Financing the union through dues means that individual members do not have to worry about paying for the support they need if they have a problem at work or want to access other union services and benefits.

What are my rights?

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All workers in Alberta are protected by minimum employment standards, setting rules such as the minimum hourly wage or the maximum number of hours you can work.

However, it can be difficult for individual workers to hold employers to even these minimum standards, and there’s nothing stopping an employer from letting you go at any time no matter how long you’ve worked there or how good your performance has been.

Only unionized workers can negotiate legally binding contracts that their employers must uphold. AUPE members are not alone when they have a problem at work, and members can access a wide range of benefits and services. 

Every worker in Alberta has the legally protected right to choose to join a union. When you decide you want to join AUPE, Alberta’s labour laws protect you.

It is illegal for your employer to:

  1. Discharge, suspend, transfer, lay off, or otherwise discipline workers who join a union or promote union membership to their coworkers.
  2. Favor employees who oppose the union over ones who support it. This includes promotions and special treatment.
  3. Promise raises or other favorable treatment if you oppose joining a union.
  4. Intimidate, fire or threaten to fire workers in an effort to stop them from becoming members of a union.
  5. Threaten to close your place of employment or take away benefits because you and co-workers support joining a union.
  6. Ask you your opinion of the Union.
  7. Impose conditions that keep workers from exercising their right to organize.

You have the legal right to:

  1. Join together with co-workers and form a union.
  2. Participate in meetings to discuss joining a union.
  3. Distribute union flyers, sign petitions and ask your coworkers to sign petitions at work during breaks and lunch and before and after work.
  4. File legitimate complaints against your employer with the Alberta Labour Relations Board with help from the union.
  5. Vote YES for the union.

You have the right to a voice in your workplace, so that you and your coworkers can improve your wages and working conditions and build a better life for yourself and your family.

What will my boss say?

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“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).

Benefits for union members

Find out more about the many benefits of membership ranging from union education to member discounts and emergency financial aid.

AUPE staff contact