Know the Facts ~ The Unifor Advantage

I believe we can achieve more working together, openly collaborating, and driving positive change without a union.  - Eddie Myers

We have the attention of management. As Unifor members, L3 Harris Wescam workers will have the ability to negotiate a collective agreement that is legally enforceable. You will elect a bargaining committee that will sit at the table as equals with management to bring forward changes you would like to see in your working terms and conditions. For the first time, workers will be able to set the agenda, openly collaborating for positive change as unionized workers.

When workers unite and work towards joining the union, it always gets the boss’s attention. It is no surprise that you received an email from Eddie Myers last week. These emails are standard from employers; it seems they all follow the same playbook. First, they remind you how important you are to the organization; this is usually followed by a line or two about the current open-door policy of communication and what they think is better without a third party like a union getting between what you already have. They suggest that they don’t think you need a union, and this is within their rights; they can not tell you not to join the union.

Unions help to protect workers from rising costs of Inflation

Statistics Canada reported that in December 2021, the annual pace of inflation climbed to 4.8 percent, a pace that hasn’t been seen in the thirty years since September 1991. Gasoline prices alone were up over 33 percent last year.

In Canada, many workers and their families, are experiencing the adverse effects of inflation just like you. Wages are simply not keeping up with the increasing cost of everything you buy. Everything is going up from groceries to gas, rent, and consumer goods.

Q: How does inflation negatively affect you and your family?

A: Inflation erodes money's purchasing power. The impact that inflation has on households is that it decreases the value of a dollar over time. Inflation increases the price of goods and services, effectively decreasing the number of goods and services you can buy with a dollar in the future as opposed to a dollar today. According to Statistics Canada, over the 10 years from 2012 to 2021, inflation eroded purchasing power by an average of over 1.6 percent each and every year for a cumulative total of 16.4 percent.

Q: How can you offset the damaging effects of inflation?

A: Through union representation and collective bargaining; demanding and receiving regularly scheduled wage increases from your employer that keep up with the rate of inflation.

Considering persistent inflation in recent years, even with a small increase, it is obvious that you are still continuing to lose ground with respect to purchasing power.

The current circumstances for attaining wage increases put workers in direct conflict. You compete against others in your cell for any gains, and your employer can pay different rates by taking away wages from others. This is far from the open collaboration for positive change that Eddie refers to. With a collective agreement negotiated by the union, your wages will be predictable and dependable. You will have the security to predict how much you will make each year of your collective agreement.

With no union, you have to simply settle for relying on the goodwill of the Company and hoping that you can get a raise occasionally when it suits them. You must simply accept that you will never have a real say in your workplace and that the Company has no legal obligation to provide wage increases beyond what is required in the Employment Standards Act.

Q: What else can the union help with?

A: Regular wage increases are important but are only a part of what can be gained through collective bargaining.  By sticking together and bargaining collectively through your union, you get to have a real say in the workplace through your collective agreement. A collective agreement is a framework for fairness – a set of standards for everything from wages, benefits, seniority, hours of work, work hours, health & safety etc. the Company and the workers jointly agree will be applied fairly to everyone. In a collective agreement, wage schedules, including entry-level rates, regular increases and top rates for all classifications, are not a “secret” between you and the Company but are published for all to see.

With a union collective agreement, the employer could not slash your benefits with literally zero warning or input from you. Having the rules in place ensures fairness for everyone. An employee-led “engagement team” that is being promoted by your employer gives workers no legal standing to challenge your employer or hold them accountable. They will still have all the power to do what they want even if you disagree.

This is a distraction meant to keep you from the real power of joining Unifor.

Q: If I sign a union card does that mean I am now in the union?

A: No, signing a union membership card is just the first step in joining the union. Once the union has a majority of cards signed we will file an application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) for a certification vote. The OLRB will order a secret ballot vote for all workers in the proposed bargaining unit. If a majority of workers then vote in favour of joining the union the labour board will issue a certificate making Unifor your union and giving you the ability to negotiate a collective agreement with your employer.