Being a member has its perks

Local 1059’s members enjoy the benefits of unionization including pensions, health insurance and higher wages. We also place members in rewarding careers with tremendous opportunities - from profitable and interesting careers as skilled workers to the ability to take a career path that leads to leadership positions, both within companies and on the job site.

Myths and Facts about Unions
Unionizing your workplace
Unionizing and your employer
What about CLAC?
Learn More About LIUNA Membership
Apply to Become a Member
Optical Benefits


Myths and Facts about Unions

There are many myths about unions in Canada, plain and simple. We want to help set the record straight on unionization. The following are seven myths and facts about unions to help you answer the question “are unions right for me?”

Myth: My union dues go toward making union executives rich.

Fact: No, your union dues go to building and maintaining a strong union. LIUNA Local 1059 is a non-profit organization, with the biggest expenditures going towards representing its membership, including Business Representatives, grievance settlement, organizing and administrative costs, which all contribute to ensuring that collective agreements are negotiated and enforced professionally. Local 1059 also invests in up-to-date skills and safety training courses for members, to help them remain employable.

Myth: I can be fired for organizing a union/signing an authorization card.

Fact: Punishing or in any way penalizing an employee who intends to or has signed an application card is illegal. This goes directly against the unionization rights provided by law. When workers unionize, signed cards are submitted to the government Labour Board and are cross-referenced with an official employee list supplied to the Labour Board by their employer. Your employer will know how many employees signed, but will not know who specifically, and is unable to punish any worker.

Myth: If I put my name on an out-of-work dispatch list, I might have to commute to a job far away.

Fact: LIUNA Local 1059 operates and maintains regionalized out-of-work dispatch lists. You have the option to receive offers from any one of our lists. As a part of our organization efforts into Grey and Bruce counties, we recently established a stand-alone out-of-work dispatch list specifically for those counties.

Myth: Unions are strike-happy.

Fact:Unions always negotiate for collective agreements, not conflict. At Local 1059, we consider striking a last resort. Strikes happen only if a clear majority of the affected membership votes for it. When the public learns about strikes in the news, they assume it is the norm. However, strikes are the exception: 97 out of 100 collective agreements are actually resolved without striking.

Myth: Unions protect the lazy.

Fact: No collective agreement protects employees from the logical consequences of their actions. What unions do is ensure that the process for discipline is fair according to the law and follows the process laid out in the collective agreement. At Local 1059, it is our responsibility to make sure members are treated fairly and are offered the support they need throughout the discipline process. However, we cannot protect them from themselves.

Myth: If enough people at my workplace want to join a union, I will be forced into joining too.

Fact: Freedom of choice is important to unions and the rights we uphold. However, when a collective agreement is established, every employee working under it must join the union.

Myth: Unions only help their members, not all workers.

Fact: Standard hours of work, overtime, minimum wage, and fair health/safe employment laws are just a few of the benefits fought for and won by unions for all workers. Our members’ needs direct our day-to-day operations, but in the end, unions bargain for the fair treatment of all workers.

Unionizing your workplace

Why unionize your workplace?

There are many reasons why you may want to unionize, or “organize” your workplace, such as:

  • To obtain better wages. Union workers are more likely to enjoy consistent pay raises on a regular basis, through bargaining processes that include input from employees.
  • For access to benefits, including pensions and health coverage. Local 1059 is proud to offer comprehensive medical coverage and pensions to its members so that they can build a secure future for themselves and their families.
  • To remain employable with industry-leading skills and safety training. Local 1059 provides cutting-edge training at its 32,000 square foot training centre facility.
  • For increased employment security. Local 1059 maintains detailed, regionalized out-of-work referral lists, so that they can keep members employed, easily placing them in jobs in their area.
  • For increased dignity and support in the workplace. Unions such as LIUNA provide dignity in the workplace by ensuring that the employer-employee relationship is fair. Union representatives work with you to provide support, should you have a personal issue with your employer.
  • For representation, providing the benefits and rewards that come with union membership.

What to expect when unionizing your workplace

If you and some of your co-workers want to unionize your workplace, here are the steps:

  • First, you would meet with a LIUNA Local 1059 organizer to discuss your goals, and if LIUNA would be a good fit.
  • If you and the organizer think you could get majority support from your fellow workers, you would be asked to sign a union membership application card. These cards indicate that employees are interested in forming a union.

Did you know?

Ontario law requires 40 per cent of cards to be signed before a union applies to the provincial Labour Relations Board for certification

Non-construction workers

  • After the Union applies to the Labour Relations Board, the government conducts a vote among employees. If most employees agree that they want a union, the Board will certify the union as the employees’ representative. This means that the employer is legally obligated to recognize the union and bargain with it.

Construction workers

  • If more than 55 percent of the employees in a workplace sign membership application cards, there is no vote; the union is automatically certified to represent the employees.
  • LIUNA is dedicated to working with you every step of the way. Local 1059 organizers are highly trained and experienced and are committed to supporting and advocating for you. Please call Local 1059 at 519-455-8083 or email if you are interested in organizing your workplace or have any questions.



Unionizing my workplace: Frequently asked questions

Q: Will my employer find out who signed union membership cards?

A: No. When cards are submitted to the Labour Relations Board, an official of the Board checks the signatures against a company-provided sample, in order to verify that the union has legitimately signed up a majority of employees. Your employer will find out how many employees signed cards but will not know exactly who.

Q: Is my employer allowed to threaten, intimidate or fire me or my co-workers if he or she wants to stop us from unionizing?

A: No. Threats, intimidation or other “unfair labour practices” are prohibited by Ontario’s labour laws. These unfair labour practices include the following management activities:

  • Threats about job loss, layoffs, firings or loss of benefits because of unionization
  • Reassigning union supporters to less desirable shifts or work areas without cause or reasonable business justification
  • Calling union supporters in for interviews
  • Intimidating workers by saying he or she knows who has signed cards
  • Circulating anti-union “revocation” cards during work time
  • Posting or circulating any threatening, intimidating or coercive letters or leaflets
  • Cutting wages or changing conditions of employment

If these unfair labour practices occur during a unionization campaign at your workplace, contact your union organizer or representative as soon as possible for support.

Q: When do I start paying union dues, and how are they collected?

A: Union dues are taken by payroll deduction, similar to CPP premiums. Union dues are tax deductible. If you are working for a newly unionized Employer, you do not have to pay union dues until a collective agreement with your Employer is in place.

Q: Where do my union dues go?

A: Employees’ union dues go to building and maintaining a strong union. Local 1059 is a non-profit organization. Its biggest expenditures go towards representning its membership, including Business Representatives, grievance settlement, organizing and administrative costs, which all contribute to ensuring that collective agreements are negotiated and enforced professionally. Local 1059 also invests in up-to-date skills and safety training courses for members to ensure they remain employable.

Q: When will I receive higher wages, health coverage, pension, and other rewards and benefits provided by the union?

A: LIUNA Local 1059 is committed to providing its members with the benefits, rewards and opportunities they deserve. The timeline for these varies from case to case, and your union representative will work to ensure these are implemented in a way that is beneficial to you and fair to your employer. Some employment sectors require a Collective Agreement to be negotiated, while others provide a statutory automatic Collective Agreement the minute the union is certified by the Labour Relations Board to represent the employees to an Employer.

Unionizing and your employer

What can your employer do in response to a unionization campaign?

Unionizing may bring changes to your workplace. This may leave workers wondering, “what can my Employer do when I unionize?”

Hold anti-union campaigns

Employers may respond to unionization efforts by running anti-union campaigns to try and stop workers from unionizing. These campaigns may include:

  • Letters from supervisors, managers or owners that paint an ugly picture of the union
  • Anti-union speeches or informal chats
  • Anti-union committees. Employers may set up a committee and invite concerned employees to stand up against the union or encourage fellow employees to “vote no” for unionization or not sign application cards

Employers are allowed to speak about unions with their employees. However, they are not allowed to intimidate or threaten employees, or engage in other unfair labour practices such as threatening job loss, layoffs or loss of benefits; circulating anti-union “revocation” cards; or posting threatening or intimidating letters, posters or leaflets.

Make small changes

Alternatively, Employers may respond to unionization efforts by making small changes to demonstrate a positive work environment and suggest that a union is not needed to make changes. These small changes may include:

  • Letters or announcements telling employees how much the management appreciates the work employees have done for the company
  • Small perks, such as free lunch or coffee, to remind employees that the boss is a good leader who cares about his or her employees. And while this may be true, it is easier for employers to spend money on small perks, than it would be for them to make larger changes, such as regular increases in pay or improved medical benefits and pensions

What happens to your employer when you unionize?

Employees may want to unionize in order to enjoy the benefits, rewards, opportunities, representation and protection that come with union membership.

However, LIUNA understands that just because employees want to unionize, doesn’t mean that they dislike or want to get rid of their supervisor, manager or Employer. As employees undergo the unionization process, they may be wondering “what happens to my Employer when I unionize?”

Once a union gains majority support in a workplace and is certified as the employees’ representative by the Labour Relations Board, the employer is legally obligated to recognize the union and bargain with it. Local 1059 representatives strive to create a positive bargaining environment. After consulting with the new members, the union will bargain for a variety of rewards and benefits, such as higher wages or improved benefit coverage. Until a Collective Agreement is reached, there is a statutory freeze of all employment conditions. Some collective agreements are automatically in place when the Union is certified.

It is not a union’s goal to make unreasonable demands or run employers out of business. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. A unionized environment ensures that Employers competing for a job do not submit lowball bids that are financed by underpaying employees. Unions are dedicated to supporting members, protecting their interests, and improving working conditions for all.

In fact, Employers also stand to receive benefits from unionization. LIUNA Local 1059 is dedicated to providing its signatory employers access to workers who have the necessary skills, education and safety training needed to do a job, and do it right. This is especially important in times of skilled trades shortages.

Did you know?

More than 80 per cent of all work that LIUNA Local 1059 members are employed on are for companies that the Local organized, with employees signing application cards to unionize their Employer.

The Local is proud to play a part in success stories where unionization has provided benefits and rewards for both employees and Employers, building strong foundations for the future.

What about the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC)?

The Christian Labour Association of Canada, or CLAC, is a group representing more than 60,000 workers in a number of sectors in Canada, including construction, manufacturing, education, healthcare and hospitality.

CLAC was established in 1952 by a group of Dutch-Canadian Employers who sought to stop real unions from representing their employees. Although CLAC is not now officially or legally affiliated to any religious organization, its origins were tied to the Christian Reformed Church.

Is CLAC a legitimate union?

CLAC bills itself as a union, as well as a national organization of 25 affiliated local unions, or locals.

Some Labour Relations Boards across Canada, including the Ontario Board, recognize CLAC as a union, while others do not.

CLAC is not affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), and it was suspended from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) after the ITUC concluded that its policy and activities undermine the labour conditions of workers.

At LIUNA, we believe that a union should be judged on what it does, not whether or not they are officially considered a union. To us, CLAC is not a legitimate union because it engages in many practices that we feel are unacceptable, and it does not truly work to represent and support its members in an open and democratic way. Its existence is solely to stop employees from enjoying the benefits of collective agreements negotiated by non-employer-run unions.

The difference between legitimate unions and CLAC

There are a number of differences between legitimate unions, which are recognized by the Canadian Labour Congress and the ITUC, and CLAC.

Legitimate unions: CLAC:
Gain new members with open and transparent organizing drives, and democratic votes by employees seeking union representation Gains new members largely through “Voluntary recognitions”—closed-door deals negotiated between a CLAC representative and the employer. Employees are not consulted, and do not get a say in certifying CLAC as their representative
Members vote on collective agreements and their renewals CLAC concludes and administers collective agreements, without having to open it to a membership vote
Lobby to strengthen labour rights for all workers in Canada (e.g. minimum wage, workplace safety, employment standards, etc.) Has less government support and regulations
Independent, democratic, and committed to representing its members. Representatives and executives are elected democratically to ensure the union’s activities meet the needs and wishes of its members, keeping them safe, properly trained and employable, and providing them with fair wages, benefit coverage and job opportunities. Accommodates and is controlled by employers; does not consult with its members to adequately represent them. Representatives and executives are appointed by CLAC’s national board, only on the recommendation of incumbent staff members—members have no say in who is representing and working for them.
Negotiate collective agreements that go beyond the minimum standards required by law Negotiates collective agreements with sub-standard provisions that are many times below the minimum standards required by law

Did you know?

In May 2002, the British Columbia government made significant changes to the Employment Standards Act. One of the changes was to exempt unionized employees from core provisions of the Act, if their collective agreement contains any language regarding the provisions. This opened the door for “employer-accommodating” unions such as CLAC to negotiate agreements with provisions below the minimum standards of the act.

A study of 56 CLAC collective agreements by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that CLAC often conceded to employers’ collective agreements with provisions below the standards of the Act, denying large parts of their membership the core protections of the Act.

New Enhanced Benefits:

By offering optical services (eye exams, frames, lenses and contacts) directly to our eligible LIUNA 1059 members and their eligible dependants, members don’t have to pay for glasses and eye exams and wait to be reimbursed. And, they can get any pair of prescription glasses they like, no exclusions. LIUNA Local 1059 Optical Centre hours are: Wednesday 2PM to 8PM | Thursday 9AM to 8PM | Friday: 9AM to 6PM | Saturday: 9AM to 4PM

Current optical benefits

  • For eligible construction members and their eligible dependants, you are currently eligible for the cost of one set of prescription glasses (including safety glasses) including frame and lenses in any 12 consecutive month period up to a maximum of $500.
  • For eligible non-construction members and their eligible dependants, you are eligible for 90% of the cost of one set of prescription glasses (including safety glasses) including frame and lenses in any 24 consecutive month period up to a maximum of $500.
  • For all eligible members and their eligible dependants, eye exam – up to a maximum of $100 once every 24 months.
  • For all eligible members and their eligible dependants, sunglasses, tints, plastic scratch coating and transition lenses – NOT currently covered.
  • Eligible members and their eligible dependants can purchase contact lenses, instead of glasses, up to a maximum of $200 every 12 consecutive months for construction members and every 24 consecutive months at 90% for non-construction members.

Enhanced optical benefits

  • Construction members covered in any 12 consecutive month period, one pair, any frame, any lens, no exclusions, no maximum. No payment required.
  • Non-construction members 100% covered every 24 months, one pair, any frame, any lens, no exclusions, no maximum. No payment required.
  • Eye exams covered 100% by LIUNA every 24 months for all eligible members AND their eligible dependants if the exam is conducted at the LIUNA Local 1059 Optical Centre. No payment required.
  • Sunglasses, tints, plastic scratch coating and transition lenses – COVERED if you obtain them from the LIUNA Local 1059 Optical Location directly. No payment required.
  • Eligible members and their eligible dependants can obtain contact lenses instead of glasses, to a maximum of $250 every 12 consecutive months for construction members and every 24 consecutive months at 100% coverage for non-construction members. 100% coverage. No payment required.