How to unionize

A Union to Get Respect

A union is essentially a tool that employees can rely on to improve their working conditions and to protect their rights.

Individually, employees would have great difficulty achieving these goals. Collectively, however, they stand a much better chance of doing so. It has been proven that unionized employees earn higher salaries than non-unionized employees in identical jobs. It is also a wellknown fact that unionized employees enjoy a greater number of fringe benefits (group insurance, retirement plan, sick leave, etc.) that offer them better protection.

Why join a union?

A union is essentially a tool that employees can rely on to improve their working conditions and to protect their rights.

Individually, employees would have great difficulty achieving these goals. Collectively, however, they stand a much better chance of doing so. It has been proven that unionized employees earn higher salaries than non-unionized employees in identical jobs. It is also a wellknown fact that unionized employees enjoy a greater number of fringe benefits (group insurance, retirement plan, sick leave, etc.) that offer them better protection.

Who can unionize?

Anyone who receives a salary from an employer is unionizable (s. 3 of the Quebec Labour Code). Part-time, contingent, casual, temporary and on-call employees, as well as those people who are often mistakenly qualified as “self-employed” can join a Union.

On the other hand, employees who represent their employers in their dealings with the staff, that is, those acting at the management level (e.g., foremen and forewomen), are not unionizable. It must be recognized, however, that merely having a title means nothing if employees with such titles are not actually given the power to hire or discipline employees under their supervision.

When can we join a union or change unions?
  1. A petition for certification can be filed at any time if there is not already a certified union representing a specified group of employees (section 22a of the Quebec Labour Code).
  2. If there is already a union, employees can change unions in the following circumstances:
    • Employees can re-apply for certification when a union has been certified for twelve months but has not been able to sign a collective agreement (s. 22b.1).
    • When the existing collective agreement is due to be renewed, certification may be applied for at the following times:
      • from the 90th to the 60th day before the end of a collective agreement that is valid for up to three years (s. 22d);
      • deadlines may vary in the case of agreements signed for more than three years (s. 22e);
      • any time that a collective agreement has not been renewed within nine months of the date upon which it expires, regardless of the term of the agreement (s. 22c).
  3. In addition, an independent union or a “shop committee” can affiliate with the CSN at any time upon special agreement to that effect even while an existing collective agreement is still in force.