September 5, 2016
TORONTO, ONTARIO – The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) applauds the Ontario NDP call to reinstate card-check certification, and assistance for first contract arbitration once a union is in place. Card-check certification would make it easier for Ontario workers to join a union.
Current laws require that in order to unionize, employees must sign a union card then vote by ballot on whether to form or join a union. This two-step process lengthens the unionization process and creates barriers to unionization.
“Workers should only have to vote once to join a union. If a majority of workers in a workplace have signed a card, that workplace should have a union. There’s no reason to hold a second vote,” said OFL President Chris Buckley. “The requirement for a vote by ballot leaves workers vulnerable to employer campaigns of coercion and intimidation in the time leading up to balloting. Ontario laws should not make it so difficult for workers to exercise their right to unionize, as guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Instead, they should support fairness for the working people of this province.”
Card-check union certification was the norm in Ontario for forty-five years, from 1950 to 1995. During that time, once a majority of workers had signed cards, the workplace was considered unionized and workers could negotiate with the employer. Since 1996 a second vote has been required under the Labour Relations Act.
A return to card-check certification would contribute to the reduction of the gender wage gap in Ontario. It has been shown that in unionized workplaces, the wage difference between men and women is dramatically reduced; on average, women in unionized workplaces in Ontario earn $7.83 more per hour than women in non-unionized workplaces. By making unionization easier to achieve, the reinstatement of card-check certification will help reduce the gender wage gap.
The OFL also calls for the provision of mediation assistance during another important period in the unionization process, first contract arbitration. The bar for eligibility for mediation assistance should be changed to allow mediation help earlier in the bargaining process.
“The Liberal government should follow the lead of the Ontario NDP by supporting card check certification and first contract arbitration. It improves the work lives of Ontarians right across the board,” said Buckley.
The upcoming Changing Workplaces Review offers the government a chance to Make It Fair by making card-check certification and easier access to assistance in first contract arbitration the standard for unionization.
Ontarians need fair employment laws. Card-check certification and first contract mediation assistance are two ways the Ontario government can support fair jobs, fair wages, and fair employment standards, said Buckley.
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.
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