1. WHAT IS A UNION?

A union is an organized group of workers who collectively use their strength to have a voice in their workplace.

2. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BELONGING TO A UNION?

You and the other part-time staff will be able to bargain for things like job security, stable shifts, vacation pay, pay equity, tuition help and medical benefits. Furthermore, you will have greater protection from harassment, discrimination, and other unjust actions that may occur in the workplace: a union will support and represent you when dealing with your employer, should you need it. Also, a union oversees wellness on the job. This involves potential threats such as mould, exposure to chemicals, repetitive strain injury and other risks to workplace health and well being. Finally, there are a number of benefits that OPSEU offers its members, including discounted cell phone plans, home and car insurance, and travel and group discounts.

3. WHY SHOULD I SIGN THIS CARD?

Signing a card is needed to start the process of improving your workplace for yourself and others. Whether you plan on working at your college for years to come, or don’t anticipate working at the college after your current job is over, signing a card will help improve things for those who continue to work at Ontario’s colleges – even society as a whole. Unions raise the bar in terms of how workers are treated. Historically, employers at large have followed suit.

It’s the first step in the process of bringing you a workplace vote to decide whether or not you will be unionized.

4. WHO WILL SEE MY CARD?

Only the union and the Ontario Labour Relations Board will see the card – not your employer.

5. WILL MY CARD BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL?

Absolutely.  Confidentiality is of the utmost importance to the union.
It’s also a requirement of the Ontario Labour Relations Board to reassure people that the employer will never know that you signed a card.

6. WILL I GET IN TROUBLE WITH MY EMPLOYER FOR SIGNING THE CARD?

The cards will be kept confidential – your employer will never know you signed one.
Furthermore, under the Colleges Collective Bargaining Act, it is against the law for an employer to punish someone for the sole cause of joining or participating in a union.

7. WILL I GET FIRED?

The Colleges Collective Bargaining Act forbids an employer from firing you for the sole cause of organizing or participating in a union.

9. WHY ARE THEY COLLECTING CONTACT INFORMATION?

The additional information allows us to keep you informed of what is occurring on the campaign and to advise you of next steps, such as the vote. It will be kept strictly confidential.

10. HOW MANY CARDS ARE NEED IN ORDER TO GET A VOTE IN THE WORKPLACE?

35 per cent of part-time employees across all colleges in Ontario who have been hired over the course of an academic year.

11. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON'T SIGN?

It may prevent us from having enough signed cards to apply for a vote.

12. WHAT DO I GET IF I SIGN?

You will have the potential opportunity of voting yes in a vote and obtaining a collective agreement. You will also have more rights, as well as assistance from the union in matters relating to your rights at work. Further, you will have a chance to participate in negotiations to shape your workplace and help improve it for yourself and everyone.

13. WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP AFTER SIGNING?

The cards will be collected, tallied and sent to the labour board at the end of the campaign. Then there will be a vote to let all part-time workers choose whether to become unionized.

14. WHAT HAPPENS IF THE VOTE IS YES?

The next step will be to elect representatives for your bargaining team. During that time you will also get to participate in meetings to determine what you want to see in your first collective agreement.

15. HOW MUCH ARE UNION DUES?

Union dues are 1.375 per cent of gross salary. They are only payable once a collective agreement has been negotiated and ratified. Union dues are also 100 per cent tax deductible.

16. THIS ISN'T IMPORTANT FOR ME, I AM JUST A STUDENT, AND I'LL BE GONE BY THE TIME THIS ALL HAPPENS

One of the things you might consider negotiating is a tuition reduction for part-time workers who are students or regular part-time employees.  Full-time support staff currently have this in their collective agreement. When you graduate, you may work part-time for years.  You may also want to come back and work at the college either part-time or full time. If part-time workers had more rights, they might allow you to apply for a full-time job when you graduate. Finally, even if you don’t anticipate ever working at the college again, by helping to unionize part-time college workers, you are helping to improve society as a whole. Unions raise the bar in terms of how workers are treated. Historically, employers at large have followed suit.

17. I'M HAPPY THE WAY THINGS ARE, WHY ROCK THE BOAT?

You may be content with the status quo, but many of your fellow part-timers are finding it very tough having no job security, no sick time, no benefits, etc.  Remember, job duties change, and managers come and go – so the way things are now will not always stay that way. A union means having protection when you need it. Gaining the benefits of a union membership and a union contract helps keep the boat steady!

18. 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. Things we often take for granted – like decent wages, drug benefits, vacation pay and sick pay – have been negotiated by the union. Further, when a union defends people who have been harassed or discriminated against, these victories help all workers.

19. WILL THIS HELP ME BECOME FULL-TIME?

It could, if you negotiate those rights in your agreement.

20. WHO BELONGS TO A UNION?

Hockey players, doctors, NFL players, movie stars and, of course, full-time workers at your college.