Unionization FAQs - Ontario

Frequently Asked Questions about unionization in Ontario.

What is the process of forming a union?

A minimum of 40% of the employees must sign union membership cards. An application is then submitted to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (“The Labour Board”). Within 5 days, the Labour Board holds a secret ballot vote at your workplace. In order for the union to be successful, 50% plus one of the employees who cast a ballot must vote in favour of the union.

What is a Collective Agreement?

A collective agreement is a contract between the union and employer that tells workers and the employer what their rights and responsibilities are. The Collective Agreement outlines things such as: wages, benefits, hours of work, vacation and holidays, seniority, how to handle disagreements, health and wellness accommodations, etc. It ensures that everyone receives equal treatment by the employer and an accountability process if the agreement is violated. You will have the opportunity to democratically elect your co-workers to serve on a committee to bargain your Collective Agreement, and you will vote on its ratification. How is my privacy protected?

The confidentiality of the vote and card signer information is protected by law.

A Labour Board Officer holds the vote and this officer ensures that there is no interference by the employer or the union to intimidate or influence the vote. The voting process is confidential and is similar to Provincial and Federal elections. No one will ever know how you voted and at no time during the process will your employer know whether or not you have signed a membership card.

Can my boss interrogate me, discipline me or even fire me because of my support for the union?

No. It is your right to join a union and to be represented by a union. This right is protected by law.

It is against the law for an employer to fire employees because they have chosen to engage in union activity or to discriminate against them in any other way.

If you experience any intimidation or discipline by your boss as a consequence of your support for the union, CUPE’s skilled legal team will protect you.

My boss says that CUPE is an outsider that is unfamiliar with our workplace, is that true?

Several workers who are tired of being treated unfairly and feeling disrespected at work reached out to CUPE to help improve your workplace.

Together, you and your co-workers are the union. CUPE is there to support you as workers in your workplace. Your union’s job is to hear workers’ concerns and frustrations and find and resource a solution to deal with these frustration with your employer.

The union is not an outsider, but comprised of workers wanting a stronger voice and greater say over their working conditions.

My boss told me unions cannot improve my working conditions, is that true?

A union will certainly improve your working conditions by bargaining for things such as: predictable schedules, protection from being fired without reason, fair and transparent workplace policies that apply to everyone and enhanced wages and benefits.

In addition, some of the minimum benefits you now receive from your employer are a result of people like you working together through unions over the last 100 years. Benefits such as the weekend, right to pensions, vacations, minimum wage laws, human rights legislation and health and safety regulations.