What it takes to form a union at work

Let's do together what we can't do alone

Gilda Mamaril Photo

"Togther we work on important issues, not just at the workplace, but also in the community, like fighting to ensure we have good public education."

Gilda Mamaril
Toronto, ON
Inderjit Athwal photo

"An individual cannot do much, but when five fingers come together it becomes a fist. That’s what being part of a union means."

Inderjit Athwal
Vancouver, BC
Khin Khi photo

"When you join SEIU, you are part of a bigger family where we always have each others backs. Join the movement so we can all be stronger."

Khin Kyi
Vancouver, BC
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Under the law it is your right to join and participate in a trade union of your choice.

The process basically goes as follows:

Workers sign union cards

How many depends on the size of the workplace and the province.

If 50% + 1 of the voters vote “YES,” you’ve won your union!

Workers then collectively bargain & vote on their union contract

What it takes to win:

Know your rights

It is illegal for your employer to:

  • Fire you for union activities
  • Ask you if you have signed a union card
  • Ask you who else signed a union card
  • Threaten lay-off, cut in pay, and reduction in hours for your union activity
  • Transfer you or give you job assignments differently than other workers for your union activity
  • Deny the union the right to talk with you or try to prevent you from talking to the union off work time and work premises
  • Harass you because you support the union
  • Should your employer engage in any of these activities, document it (i.e. what was said, when, where) and let a union organizer know as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Thousands of cleaners across Canada who work in places like malls, schools and office buildings have formed a union with SEIU and negotiated contracts with medical benefits, paid personal days and sick days, improvements to wages and better working conditions. You can do the same.

When workers are forming a union, companies often say they will lose the contract to scare us. In this industry the reality is companies sometimes lose contracts (which has nothing to do with us forming a union.) With a union, should the cleaning company ever lose the contract, workers have the means to demand that the new company honour jobs and the union contract with the improvements that have already been gained.

Union dues are the way we pool our resources in order to stand-up for better working conditions and wage improvements. SEIU Union dues are usually 2% of gross earnings (only 20 cents for every $10 you earn).

You do not pay any Union dues until the majority of workers vote to approve a first contract and dues are tax deductible. Typically, the wage increase in the first collective agreement will more than cover the cost of dues.

Yes. When you are part of a union the employer can’t get away with terminating workers without a justifiable reason. With a union you will have a grievance procedure that empowers you to fight back should you be unfairly disciplined, laid-off or fired.

Start building power at your workplace today