Why Unifor

Worker in warehouse holding clipboard

Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, with more than 315,000 members across the country, working in every major sector of the Canadian economy. Our membership includes thousands of workers in warehousing and distribution operations in critical sectors including food retail, auto parts, pharmaceuticals, and general merchandise.

Unifor believes that warehouse workers across the country deserve the best health and safety protections, fair wages, better working conditions, and respect on the job.

Unifor launched the Warehouse Workers Unite campaign to bring warehouse workers together to address common issues and join forces to raise industry standards.

Through collective bargaining, members of Unifor can:

  • Improve wages and working conditions
  • Set rules for scheduling and overtime
  • Create a safer work environment with access to health and safety equipment, training and proper safety protocols, enforced by worker Health & Safety representatives
  • Provide job security and protection from random punitive actions by the employer
  • Demand respect and equality for all workers on the job

How to Join a Union

  • All workers in Canada have a fundamental legal right to join a union. If you and some of your co-workers want to form a union, you would first meet privately with a Unifor organizer to discuss the issues at work. If the union drive is ready to begin with majority support from your coworkers, we will then begin signing union membership cards. These cards indicate that employees are interested in forming a union.

    In British Columbia, the law requires a minimum 55% of the workplace to sign cards before we proceed to apply to the BC Labour Relations Board--a neutral government body--for certification.

    The labour board verifies if the cards are valid and certifies the union as the employees’ representative. This means that the company is legally obliged to recognize the union and bargain with it.

  • No. When cards are submitted to the Labour Board, an official of the Board checks the signatures against a company-provided sample of employee signatures in order to verify that the union has legitimately signed up most employees. The company will never find out who has signed a card. The information is completely confidential and not released by the Labour Board.

  • Yes. Employers cannot prohibit you from discussing the union provided the conversation is within the usual range of social interaction that is allowable in the workplace. However, discussion about the union, or signing union cards, cannot interfere with anyone getting their work done. If you are in doubt, you can always err on the side of caution and keep it to the break room.

  • No, this is illegal. In our experience, most companies are sophisticated enough not to resort to intimidation. However, company lawyers will advise managers to make statements that spark fears about strikes or tough bargaining by the employer. While it is illegal for any company to fire or penalize an employee who wants to form a union, most employees feel more comfortable if union organizing occurs without the company’s knowledge. The company will find out if the organizing drive is successful since the labour board will require the company provide a list of employees to verify the cards.

  • Unions are organizations by the workers, for the workers, so it really depends on what the members want, and what we can negotiate with the company. The members at your workplace determine their own priorities, and negotiations will reflect that. Once you have formed a union, you will select a bargaining committee consisting of democratically elected workers at your workplace who will work with a professional Unifor staff representative. You will identify priorities for what you would like to get in your contract through meetings and surveys.

  • Yes. Even hard-nosed companies must comply with the law. Labour law requires a company to bargain in good faith and make all reasonable efforts to reach a contract. The Labour Relations Board enforces that.

  • Yes - for a lot of reasons. To start with, your boss today may not be your boss tomorrow. Without a union contract, you have no guarantee that your wages and working conditions will not be undercut by a new boss or, for that matter, by a new owner.

    Unions can provide dignity in the workplace by ensuring that the employee-employer relationship is not controlled by just one party. The best strength workers can have is the strength they lend each other.

    If your boss genuinely likes you now, they will respect your right to choose a union. This choice will not damage a positive relationship but will in fact strengthen it.

  • Union dues are typically set at approximately 1.35% of your gross monthly income, whether you work part-time or full-time. Bonuses, shift premiums and overtime are not included in this calculation and you do not pay dues when you are off on WSIB, leave of absence, maternity or parental leave, or sick leave.

    Across all sectors, unionized workers make on average $5.17 more per hour than non-union workers. Women union members will make on average $6.89 more and young members (15-24) make on average $3.16 more.

    Union dues are tax deductible.

    It doesn’t cost to be a member of Unifor. It pays!

  • Unifor is a non-profit organization that only receives money from members’ dues. Our dues pay for:

    • Expert staff in health & safety, pensions and benefits, legal etc. so that we are well-equipped at the bargaining table.
    • Our meeting halls and offices so that we have our own places to gather, independent from our employers.
    • Educating our stewards/workplace reps, health and safety reps, activists and leaders so that they can be effective and strategic.
    • Holding our meetings and conventions (yes, there is a cost to democracy, but it’s worth it)
    • Communications – so we can make sure the voice of working people is heard in our communities, in the media, and with policymakers.
    • Some portion of the national dues money goes toward helping workers join our union. This makes sense because all workers deserve the benefits of belonging to a union and because we are stronger when more workers are organized.
    • Another portion of our dues goes to our strike defense fund. We pool our resources so that we can take on employers when we need to.
  • Unifor is a worker-run union. Each member gets a say in what they think the union should be doing, to debate issues, elect representatives or run themselves, vote on their contracts and have a say on other key issues.

    Bargaining units (in other words, each workplace) elect their own officers and manage their own affairs in accordance with By-laws and the Constitution of your Union. Some of the positions members vote for include:

    Stewards: These are front-line workers who are there as a point person to go to with questions and concerns.

    Bargaining committee: These coworkers represent you in collective bargaining, and, along with a professional Unifor representative, negotiate with the company on issues such as wages, benefits and working conditions.

    Local officers: These roles include President, Vice-Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer.

    Delegates: Delegates attend regional and national councils where we discuss union priorities, industry changes and strategies.