How will we improve our workplace by joining The Society?

NJI employees will have the ability to address workplace concerns as an organized group with the backing of Society resources and expertise.

Through the process of collective bargaining, it is common to negotiate language on important issues such as protection from workplace harassment, salary, and hours of work.  Your terms of employment and any negotiated policies will be clearly defined, and, importantly, enforceable through an effective dispute resolution mechanism.

Joining The Society will strengthen your ability to speak out without fear of retaliation about concerns you have relating to workplace policies, practices or working conditions, whether as a group or individually.

What protections do we have from employer interference during a unionization campaign?

Your right to unionize is enshrined in section 5 of the Ontario Labour Relations Act.  It is illegal for an employer to threaten, intimidate, or retaliate against employees for exploring or supporting unionization. If your employer chooses to violate your rights or break the law, The Society will take the necessary action against the employer by filing a complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

In our experience, most employers are sophisticated enough not to resort to overt intimidation or threats. However, employers often circulate statements to employees where they highlight their plans, for example, to get better at consulting and to become a better employer if given the chance.  Some employers attempt to raise doubts in employees’ minds about becoming unionized by sparking fears about having to pay union dues or go out on strike (which in fact happen rarely—see below)). Some employers will emphasize that their employees are professionals and that unionizing is somehow not professional.  We hope that you will not be burdened by these messages but if you are, you should know that this is a common response.

Once an application for certification is filed, an employer may not alter the terms or conditions of employment of employees affected by the application, without the consent of the union. This is sometimes referred to as a "statutory freeze." The freeze means that the employer must conduct “business as usual”, and ensures stability up to the point that the parties conclude their first collective agreement.

Are strikes common?

No. About 98% of collective agreements are concluded without a strike.

The Society has had one strike in its 68 year history. The majority of The Society’s bargaining units use mediation-arbitration processes instead of strikes. In these cases, if the parties reach an impasse in bargaining an arbitrator is brought in to resolve the outstanding bargaining issues. It will be up to you, as members, to decide which model you want to propose during the bargaining process.

What are the union dues?

The dues at NJI will be on a sliding scale in which those making over $50,000 per year will pay the full Society dues of $21 per week; those earning between $40,000 and $50,000 will pay 75%; those making between $30,000 and $40,000 will pay 50% and those making less than $30,000 will pay 25% of The Society dues. These dues are tax deductible.

You will not pay any union dues until your first collective agreement is in effect.

The Society offers a member discount program that provides savings from select service providers, including cell phone, internet/cable, and insurance providers. Through utilizing the discounts on auto and home insurance alone, many Society members have been able to offset the entire cost of their union dues.

Does unionization protect lazy people?

No union contract requires an employer to keep an employee who is incompetent or not doing their job. Employers have the authority to manage, discipline, and terminate employment. However, in a unionized environment employers must honour the policies and procedures agreed upon in the collective agreement or mandated by law, and can only discipline or discharge employees for just cause. And employees have a formal process and union advocate to turn to if they feel the employer has acted contrary to their obligations or without just cause.

At NJI, employees take great pride in their work and their professionalism is demonstrated every day when they come to work. You will still be the same group of employees once you become members of The Society. It is up to you to continue the good work ethic that has already been established in the workplace.

Are unionized employees better off?

Yes, we call this the “Union Advantage”. Research conducted in 2014 of the Ottawa-Gatineau workforce identified that over 42% of the local workforce are union members. These union members earned $7.32/hour more because they were able to negotiate fair wages and work hours. Women with unions earned $9.01/hour more than women without a union at work.