Know your rights at work

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Can I talk about union activity with my co-workers?

Yes. Freedom of speech and freedom of association are your rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms; therefore the right to speak about freedom of association is protected under the law.

The Canada Labour Code protects your rights:

Section 94 (1) of the Canada Labour Code prohibits employer interference in the formation of a union. It states: “No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall (a) participate in or interfere with the formation or administration of a trade union or the representation of employees by a trade union.”

Section 94 (3) of the Canada Labour Code states that “no employer shall (a) refuse to employ or to continue to employ or suspend, transfer, lay off or otherwise discriminate against any person with respect to employment, pay or any other term or condition of employment or intimidate, threaten or otherwise discipline any person, because the person (i) is or proposes to become, or seeks to induce any other person to become, a member, officer or representative of a trade union or participates in the promotion, formation or administration of a trade union.”

It’s important to know that the Canada Labour Code prohibits your employer from intimidating or threatening any employee who seeks to join or form a union. If your rights or those of a co-worker have been violated contact CUPE for more information about how to enforce your rights.

What is prohibited conduct by the employer regarding union activity? Management cannot:

  • Ask whether someone’s joined or is thinking of joining a union.
  • Ask about union meetings or activities.
  • Call someone into the office to talk about the union, unless that person asks for a meeting.
  • Discipline a union supporter for doing something employees who don’t support the union also do but get away with.
  • Visit employees in their homes to talk about the union.
  • Promise wage increases or other benefits if employees reject the join or say they might lose benefits if they’re for the union.
  • Tell you the organization will close down or lay people off or say that management will refuse to deal with a union if the employees choose to organize.
  • Help or even encourage employees who are organizing against a union.
  • Ban ordinary union buttons from the workplace if jewelry and buttons are normally allowed.

What is permitted conduct by the employer regarding union activity? Management can:

  • Tell employees what they think about a union so long as the employer doesn’t use threats or undue influence.
  • Make a pitch for the company or organization and say how good the working conditions are.
  • Increase benefits or start to hold monthly, weekly or daily meetings to solve problems.
  • Resolve problems that have irritated people for years only minutes after an organizing drive begins.