Frequently Asked Questions
What is a union?
A union is a group of workers just like you who have joined together to have a stronger voice in their workplace.
What are the benefits of belonging to a union?
You have more power to get greater job security, vacation pay, improved hours of work, pay equity, health and drug coverage, improved workplace health and safety, and protection from workplace harassment and bad bosses. OPSEU/SEFPO also offers its members educational and leadership opportunities, discounted cell phone plans, home and car insurance and travel and group discounts.
What is the first step in unionizing my workplace?
Start by contacting OPSEU/SEFPO! Our expert staff will get you on the path to a better working life.
Can I be disciplined or fired for trying to start a union?
Absolutely not! The Ontario Labour Relations Act forbids an employer from disciplining or firing anyone for the sole cause of organizing or participating in a union.
Will I have to personally participate in starting the union?
The union doesn’t do it alone. Once you have made the initial contact with us, OPSEU/SEFPO will help you and your coworkers develop an organizing plan and establish an organizing committee to get you on your way.
How will OPSEU/SEFPO unionize my workplace?
OPSEU/SEFPO will train the organizing committee and help develop a strategy with them to unionize your workplace. We’ll be with you every step of the way as you begin an information campaign, where every eligible employee is asked to sign a union membership card.
Who will see the union membership cards?
Only OPSEU/SEFPO and the Ontario Labour Relations Board will see the cards – never your employer.
Will these cards be kept confidential?
Absolutely. Confidentiality is of the upmost importance to the union.
Will my co-workers and I get in trouble with my employer for signing a membership card?
The membership cards will be kept confidential – your employer will never know who signed one.
If we sign membership cards, what do my colleagues and I get?
The membership cards get you a vote on whether to obtain a collective agreement through OPSEU/SEFPO. A “yes” vote gets you bargaining rights in matters relating to your rights at work. You will have a chance to participate in negotiations with management to help improve your workplace.
What is the next step after signing membership cards?
The membership cards will be collected, tallied and sent to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. If a majority of eligible workers sign a card, then there will be a vote to let all workers choose whether to become part of OPSEU/SEFPO.
What happens if the vote is yes?
The next step will be to elect representatives for your bargaining team. During this time, you will also get to participate in meetings to determine what you want to see in your first collective agreement.
What is a collective agreement?
A collective agreement is a set of rules that both the company and the union must abide by.
If the vote is yes, can some of my colleagues opt out or not pay dues?
The law says that if a majority of eligible workers vote in favour of a union, then all workers automatically belong to the union and must pay union dues. However, there is no requirement that they participate in any union activities.
How much are union dues?
OPSEU/SEFPO dues are just 1.375 per cent of gross salary. This is one of the lowest rates in Canada. The dues are payable only once a collective agreement has been negotiated and ratified. Union dues are 100 per cent tax deductible.
What about strikes? I’m worried about them
The vast majority of contracts are achieved without a strike. No strike can occur without a majority vote by secret ballot.
I know someone who was in a union, and it didn’t do anything for them
Often workers don’t realize what the union has done for them. Many benefits we often take for granted – like decent wages, health and drug coverage, vacation pay and sick pay – have been negotiated by unions.