Social Planning Toronto report underscores the need to make it easier to join a union, says OFL

 

(TORONTO, ON) – Unionized workers are less likely than non-unionized workers to struggle with paying bills, according to a study released today by Social Planning Toronto called The Union Advantage: Unions and the Response to Precarious Work Series.

The study on precarious work underscores the need for meaningful improvements to employment and labour laws in Ontario.

“This study reinforces what we have known for decades: that unionized workers do better, with higher salaries, pensions, and benefits – the things that go along with a steady, decent job,” said OFL President Chris Buckley. “It must be easier for workers to join and keep a union, and we must also fight for changes to the Employment Standards Act to make every job a decent job, whether the workers are unionized or not.”

The OFL has been advocating for changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act to raise the minimum standards in workplaces across Ontario, and increase access to unions for all workers in the province.

“The data supports the need for our government to both improve standards so that all workers have decent work, and make it easier for Ontarians to join and keep a union,” said Buckley. “The OFL has told the government what workers need through the Changing Workplaces Review. We expect them to take a hard look at the legislation and make changes that are needed.”

Survey findings include:

  • Union coverage is associated with having a job based on the Standard Employment Relationship; an individual income above $40,000; employer-provided pension, benefits and paid time off; a stable income; a full-time work week of 30-40 hours; and an individual income that did not decline compared to the previous year.
  • Even among precarious workers, unionization is associated with having a higher individual income; employer-provided pension, benefits and paid time off; and more stable income.
  • In Toronto, only 22.5% of workers belong to a union or are covered by a collective agreement, a rate lower than the provincial and national rates of unionization.
  • Just under 80% of unionized workers have access to a pension and benefits compared to less than 50% of non-unionized workers.

The labour movement is advocating for significant overhauls to both the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act – to raise the floor for all workers – which includes:

  • Guaranteeing the Charter right of all Ontarians to bargain collectively with their employer by implementing card-based certification in every sector and for all workplaces to reduce barriers for employees who want to organize.
  • Extending access to collective bargaining for all Ontario workers by introducing broad-based bargaining models that include other sectors of the economy.
  • Providing options for neutral telephone or online voting when union members need to vote.
  • Extending the Labour Relations Act to cover all workers with no limitations. All workers deserve protections under the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act.
  • Removing all exemptions to the minimum wage.
  • Mandating parity for all workers with respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions – regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time workers.
  • Protecting the right to concerted activity so that workers can form groups to pursue collective action.
  • Extending and increasing access to just cause protection for all workers, unionized and non-unionized workers alike.
  • Extending successor rights to protect employees against losing their jobs and their union when a worksite changes hands, not only to the building services but also to all other contract service industries.
  • Prohibiting replacement workers to make sure the law does not undercut workers who are fighting for decent work.
  • Extending Personal Emergency Leave to all workers and ensuring that it is not combined with any other leave.
  • Providing ten paid job-protected days of leave for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
  • Providing seven paid sick days for all workers separate from Personal Emergency Leave.

The list above is a partial list of OFL priorities. Click here to see the full list. To read the OFL submission to the Changing workplaces review, click here.

The OFL’s www.MakeItFair.ca campaign takes on issues of inequality in the workforce, and coincides with the province’s “Changing Workplaces Review.” The campaign gives voice to unions’ demands for across-the-board changes to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act that would improve standards for every worker and make it easier for them to join a union.

The OFL represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

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For further information contact:

Meagan Perry, Director of Communications

Email: mperry@ofl.ca

Phone: 416-894-3456

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