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What is a Union Job?

In Canada, union jobs are beneficial and support infrastructure projects. Union jobs generally offer a very good pay to workers. The workers are often criticized because most Canadians feel that workers employed in union jobs are overrated and overpaid. A union worker holds the responsibility of supporting a group of seven workers who are also employed by the Canadian union.

The article talks about the status of labour unions in Canada; advantages and disadvantages of unions; and, labour strikes and lockouts.

What is the Status of Unions in Canada?

Almost 30% of Canadian workers belong to unions. These workers include nurses, teachers, journalists, professional athletes, retail store clerks, manufacturing workers, miners, electricians and other construction trade labourers. All in all, about four million Canadian workers belong to a union. Unions in Canada are regulated by federal and provincial legislation. They are required by law to be democratic and financially accountable to their members. All unions have constitutions that must be registered with government labour boards. There are more than 100 unions in Canada with UFCW being the largest private sector union all across Canada. With UFCW Canada, union dues are paid to the local union to which the member belongs. Most of the dues are earmarked for activities such as servicing, representation, organizing, legal costs and education. A small portion goes to the national union for programs that benefit UFCW Canada members.
Unions are said to be good for the economy. Many historians credit unions with the rise of Canada's middle class and the general prosperity of the country. Unions were cited for stabilizing the economy and stimulating its growth by helping more workers make decent wages with more job security. Because of unions, more working people could afford houses, better food, clothing, cars and other consumer goods. Increasing demand for these things created more jobs and even more economic growth. Better-paid and more secure workers could also pay more in taxes to support the growth of public services like schools, roads, clean water, police services, electricity and health care.
Although some people say that unions are bad for the economy, Canada is among the top five most prosperous countries in the world and has a relatively high rate of unionization. Union workers make more money, spend more money and create more jobs with that spending. The health care benefits enjoyed by union members means healthier families and less burden on the health care system.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Unions?

The basic advantages of labour unions are the following:
• Union members are generally better protected when disputes in wage, hours and terms of employment arise. Groups of workers have better negotiating power than a single person.
• Some unions also have incentives like medical and dental benefits.
• Unions also pay their workers a percentage of their daily pay even when the workers do not work because of a strike. If you are out on the picket line with the rest of the union, you will receive a pro-rated amount of your wage. This can offset the financial strain that a strike or labour dispute can cause.
The disadvantages include the following:
• If the union goes on strike, the member is part of that industrial action. You may not always agree with what they decide upon.
• An 80% yes vote is required to carry out various activities within the union. As member of a union, you may be unable to work in places that are not unionised.

What are Strikes and Lockouts?

There is a difference between a strike and a lockout although both are considered as work stoppages. A strike is a general withdrawal of services by the members of the union because they are not willing to accept the employer's offer for a collective agreement. Strikes can be caused by disagreements over wages, pensions, health care benefits, seniority rights, health and safety conditions, job security and other issues. Under the UFCW Canada Constitution, a strike cannot happen unless the members vote, by secret ballot, to authorize the union in calling for a strike.
A lockout happens when an employer refuses to allow union members to come to work unless they agree with the employer's proposed collective agreement. A lockout is an attempt to force union workers to accept the employer's settlement terms, or to try to force the union to make substantial compromises in its position. Obviously, the workers do not get to vote on whether or not their employer locks them out. There are very few strikes or lockouts in Canada. Statistics show that 95% of all negotiations end in a settlement without a work stoppage.

Labour Situation in Canada

It seems that the labour unions contribute a lot to the welfare of union members. The nation also benefits from the proliferation of unions as described in this article. This is shown by Canada’s rise to the top five prosperous nations in the whole world despite the high rate of unionisation.


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