General

1. How do I contact the Union?
Congratulations, you have already taken the first step. Take the time to read through our frequently asked questions. If you are interested in forming a union at your workplace simply e-mail us at info@ufcw333.ca and a representative from our Organizing Department will contact you via within 24 hours to discuss the benefits of joining UFCW Local 333.

2. What is a Union?

A Union is a group of workers who voluntarily organize to further their mutual interests such as wages, working conditions, benefits, etc, achieved through collective bargaining.

Local 333 represents workers mainly in the security and hospitality sectors including hotels, nursing homes, retirement residences and long term care facilities. UFCW Local 333 is committed to representing workers just like you and are expanding our services to include a broader range of workplaces. Local 333 has approximately 5,000 members across Ontario making it a big part of North America’s largest private sector union. UFCW has over 240,000 members across Canada and over 1.4 million members across North America.

3. Why do working people join Unions?

Unions help protect and enforce the rights of workers whether they are Ontario Employment Standards or those set out in the collective agreement of a particular workplace. Through Local 333 you have Union Representatives to help you if you are injured at work with filing and/or appealing Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) claims.

If your employer violates a policy or clause of the collective agreement, your Union Rep or Union Steward will help you file a grievance. Those grievances with merit are filed and the Legal Department will represent you in the proceedings. Quite often, grievances are settled without arbitration but sometimes they proceed to the point where the parties meet with an arbitrator who will listen to both cases and make a decision. These decisions can include reinstatement to a lost job, compensation for lost wages, discipline removed from a worker’s record and other awards.

4. Who can belong to a Union?

The right to join, organize and freely participate in a union is enshrined in the Ontario Labour Relations Act, the Canada Labour Code, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations. It is a fundamental right that our union works tirelessly to protect and defend. You and your co-workers also have the right to gain information about unions and your rights.

Membership criteria vary depending on your workplace, status or type of work. See the Organizing FAQ for more information.

Different unions represent different types of workplaces, though some – like Local 175 – cover a variety of sectors. If you are interested in joining Local 333 or for more information on organizing in general, you can contact the Organizing Department. The representatives in this department will answer any questions you may have and exercise absolute confidentiality with your personal information.

5. What are the benefits of membership?

The benefits of membership at Local 333 includes:

6. Where do my Union dues go?

Members dues go toward a variety of services necessary to provide the protection UFCW offers its members, including strike allocation, legal and professional, and servicing fees.

7. What are Grievance and Arbitration procedures?

A grievance occurs when a worker and the union believe the collective agreement has been violated by the employer. If the union and employer can not solve the grievance through other means, then either party can take the grievance to arbitration. The Minister of Labour will appoint an arbitrator if one can not be agreed upon by the union and employer. The parties are bound by law to abide by the arbitrator’s decision.

8. What if I have a grievance?

First contact your union steward. Grievances must be filed within a certain number of days from the incident or your knowledge of the incident occurring, as outlined in the collective agreement. Failure to meet these deadlines could result in the loss of the grievance.

If your steward is unable to help resolve your grievance, you or your steward should contact your union staff representative immediately.

Keep detailed information from witnesses to document your case.

Follow the orders of management even if you believe they violate your collective agreement and grieve later. You have the right to refuse work if the orders require you to risk your health or safety or break the law.

Organizing

9. How do I organize my workplace?

The Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA) covers most workers in Ontario. The first step to organizing under these provincial laws is the requirement for at least 40% of the workers to signconfidential union cards. Card-signers do not have to pay any “initiation fee.” When at least 40% of workers have signed the cards, our union will make an application for certification at the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). Exactly five working days after the application, the OLRB will conduct a Secret Ballot Vote in the workplace. If the union wins a majority of ballots cast, the OLRB will then have the power to certify your union.

Provincial and Federal Labour Laws have very specific provisions for organizing workplaces. Workers in the banking, transportation, military and grain industries are often covered by Federal Labour Laws, while nearly every other sector is Provincially regulated.

Federal Labour Laws require a majority of workers to sign confidential union cards to gain union representation. The Laws also require each card-signer to pay a $5 “initiation fee.” When a majority of workers have signed cards, the Federal Labour Board has the power to certify your union without an additional secret ballot vote.

Once your union is certified, the employer will be Legally Obligated to recognize your union and start negotiations for your first collective agreement.

10. Can my employer remove currently enjoyed privileges?

No, your employer cannot take away any rights and privileges you currently enjoy and they cannot discriminate against workers who support the union. Labour Relations Act, Section 86

11. Who can be a part of the bargaining unit?

All non-managerial employees can be part of your union bargaining unit. This means that you can belong to the bargaining unit as long as you cannot hire, fire, discipline or make effective recommendation. Effective recommendation covers any worker who can recommend discipline to a managerial employee and that recommendation is followed by actual discipline. If management does not take such recommendations seriously, then the employee in question can belong to the bargaining unit.

Temporary workers and agency employees are usually excluded from a union bargaining unit. Employers often exploit agency workers to try to stop unionization efforts. If you are a temporary or agency employee, call our Organizing Department and we will advise you of organizations that defend the rights of temporary workers.

12. What if my employer finds out?

The Provincial and Federal Labour Laws clearly state that everyone has the right to freely join and participate in a union. These Laws forbid any employer interference, harassment, intimidation or discrimination against any worker who supports or organizes a union. You need a strong union to ensure that employers abide by these Laws. Labour Relations Act, Section 70, 76

Local 333 has a full-time Legal Department to defend and fight for the rights of workers who want to organize a union. Sometimes our union conducts open organizing campaigns at the request of the workers themselves. This is often the case when a workplace is very large.

Most successful organizing campaigns, however, are carried out confidentially. If the employer finds out too early, we’re often forced to fight off the employer’s anti-union campaign of lies, fear and bribery. Employers often have endless resources to wage anti-union campaigns and a captive audience of workers forced to listen to employer propaganda every day they go to work. Contact our Organizing Department at info@ufcw333.ca and ask an Organizing Representative to meet you on your free time at a location that is convenient and confidential.

The Organizing Representative will identify what you need to kick off the organizing campaign and will give you the necessary tools and resources. The quickest and most successful campaigns are started at the grassroots – between the workers you trust and the Organizing Representative. The Organizing Representative is ready to do anything you need to successfully gain union representation.

Strict Confidentiality binds the entire organizing process.

13. Will my employer find out I’ve signed a Union card?

Employees are guaranteed secrecy as to their union membership and their Employer never has an opportunity to see the application cards. Labour Relations Act, Section 119

14. What are my rights?

The right to join, organize and freely participate in a union is enshrined in the Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA), the Canada Labour Code, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations. It is a fundamental right that our union works tirelessly to protect and defend. You and your co-workers have the right to gain information about unions and your rights. You have the right to sign a confidential union card and ask others to also sign cards. Labour Relations Act, Section 72, 76

The only important requirement is that you do all organizing activities on your own time and not during paid working hours. To successfully organize, you need to know exactly how you can exercise your right to organize a union and you need a union that is ready to protect your rights. Contact our Organizing Department for more information. Labour Relations Act, Section 77

15. What if the majority of workers turn down the vote to join?

If a majority of workers turn down the vote, the union is effectively barred from your workplace and cannot attempt to organize again until a one-year time period elapses. This is the moment when the union can no longer protect you, unless the union has ongoing charges of unfair labour practices against your employer. The union can protect you throughout the organizing process and will continue defending your rights after the vote, but only if a majority of workers vote in favour of the union. Labour Relations Act, Section 10

Health and Safety

16. What are my health and safety rights in Ontario?

All members of Local 333 have guaranteed health and safety provisions in their collective agreements. Your union will ensure that health and safety is a reality in your workplace. Our young members may also want to check out the WSIB Young Worker Awareness Program atwww.yworker.com.

Under Ontario’s Health and Safety act you have four basic rights:

  • The right to participate in identifying and resolving health and safety concerns through the Joint Health and Safety Committees or the Health and Safety rep.
  • The right to know about any potential hazards, including the right to training that is necessary to work safely.
  • The right to refuse unsafe work if they believe the task to be “dangerous to either their own health and safety or that of another worker”.
  • The right to stop work that is dangerous. This applies to ‘certified’ members of the Joint Health and Safety Committee, not to the individual workers, though individual workers maintain the right to refuse unsafe work.

17. What can a Union do to improve the health and safety of my workplace?

Your Union can help enforce the laws and agreement clauses that protect every workers’ health and safety in the workplace. Accidents happen because hazards aren’t addressed. More often than not, workers are not even informed of these hazards even when the company knows full well that there is risk involved.

Your Union has full-time Union Representatives to help address workplace health and safety issues. Your first step is always to contact a member of your workplace Health & Safety Committee, your Union Steward or Union Rep.

Download the Ontario provincially regulated Right to Refuse Unsafe Work information card.

18. What if there is harassment or discrimination taking place at my workplace?

Harassment and Discrimination in the workplace is unacceptable and clearly identified in the Ontario Human Rights Code. In ALL cases you should tell your Union Steward and/or Union Rep.

19. Does the union have a right to strike over unsafe working conditions?

No. A union can only go on strike when their collective agreement has expired and they are in the process of collective bargaining with their employer to reach a new agreement.

20. Do you have the right to know what chemicals you’re handling & if they’re safe?

Yes! Like all workers, you have the right to know about the hazards you may be exposed to on the job. This includes the right:

  • To be trained;
  • To have information about machinery, equipment, working conditions, processes and hazardous materials; and
  • To training about the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), where work involves hazardous materials.

All controlled products like flammable or poisonous materials, must be labeled or identified. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which gives you information about handling these products safely, must also be available in the workplace.

Do not handle products that are not labelled or that you have not been trained to use.

21. Do you have the right to refuse work that you have reason to believe is likely to endanger your health or safety?

Yes! You have the right to refuse work you believe is dangerous to your health and safety or dangerous to the health and safety of other workers. See Your Right to Refuse Unsafe Work. If you have any questions, please contact your Union Representative.

Do you have further questions? Contact us at info@ufcw333.ca