1. I do not feel secure in my job, even though I am a good worker. I worry a lot about being fired or laid off for no good reason.
Job security is the Number One concern for most workers and UFCW Canada is Number One when it comes to winning job security. With a UFCW Canada negotiated contract on your side, you cannot be fired or disciplined without just cause. If you are, the union will take your case and fight management on your behalf. There would be no cost to you. All representation services are covered by your union dues.
2. My employer offers no health care benefits or, at most, benefits that I have to pay for out of my paycheque.
Government medicare programs do not cover prescription drugs, eyeglasses, dental work, or many other health care needs. These can be very expensive, especially for families with children. UFCW Canada is expert at negotiating health care insurance benefits that are, in most cases, fully paid by the employer. Negotiating benefits for part-time workers is just as important as doing so for full-time workers.
3. I feel I am underpaid in terms of my value to my employer.
It is natural for your employer to want to pay you as little as possible. That’s more money in their pocket. UFCW Canada members are paid, on average, 35% more than non-union workers doing exactly the same job. We’re tough negotiators. We know the marketplace and what your employer should be able to afford. We don’t put companies out of business by demanding fairer pay. In fact, several of Canada’s largest and most profitable companies are staffed by well-paid and well-treated UFCW Canada members. There is no conflict between paying good wages and being a successful company.
4. I am not treated with respect by my boss. He has little or no regard for me as a human being.
Respect and Dignity at Work are watchwords of UFCW Canada. Many bosses treat employees like children, or worse. “Keep them scared” is a common management approach. Harassment is part of the daily grind in many workplaces. That’s not right. And it’s not good for business, either.
UFCW Canada representatives know how to handle bosses who do not give employees the respect that any person is entitled to. If you’re a member of our union, you can count on us to stick up for you. When it comes to bullying bosses, we like to put them in their place.
5. I seldom know what my hours of work are going to be from week to week. I can't make firm personal plans.
The scheduling of hours is mainly a problem for part-time workers. Students need time for studies and exams. Single parents sometimes need flexibility to ensure their children are properly taken care of. And those who have been with an employer for a long time should be given preference in the available hours and shifts.
Under typical UFCW Canada contracts, part-time employees with more seniority generally have first crack at the available hours of work. But even those with less seniority are entitled to consideration for special reasons. For example, in many retail food contracts, students are not required to work their regular hours during exam times. For others, “hours trading” is allowed to accommodate family or personal emergencies. Fairness and understanding should be our guide. UFCW Canada works to ensure that happens.
6. I am often asked to work past my quitting time, without getting paid extra. If I say no, I will be given the lousy jobs as punishment, or have my hours cut.
If you work, you must be paid. And unless the contract says otherwise, overtime is voluntary in UFCW Canada workplaces. If your employer tries to penalize you in any way for asserting your rights, a UFCW Canada representative will step in and remedy that. The law is the law. A contract is a contract.
7. There are a lot of safety hazards in our workplace, people have been hurt, and management doesn't seem to care. Just be more careful next time is all they say.
UFCW Canada has a well-deserved reputation for being very aggressive on workplace health and safety issues. We have helped clean up and make countless workplaces safer — from retail food stores to manufacturing plants to nursing homes. We train the union members on health and safety committees and keep them up to date. We call in government inspectors when necessary. If a member’s health or safety is at risk, we’re there. Nothing is more important.
8. The women in our workplace are always given the lowest-paying jobs and the fewest opportunities for advancement. We are never given a chance to show that we can do the men's work as well as they can.
About half of all UFCW Canada members are women. So we are very big on equal opportunity. When a job comes open that a female member wants, if she has the seniority and the capacity to do that job, she must be given the opportunity. Sometimes employers try to say that the woman may have the seniority but doesn’t have the ability. We don’t let them get away with that. We go to bat for all our members, male and female, who want to use their seniority to improve their situation.
In addition, UFCW Canada has local union training centres across the country that provide a wide range of career-oriented skills development courses for our members. Every year, over ten thousand UFCW Canada members take courses that give them a fresh advantage, on top of their seniority, when they compete for better jobs and promotions.
9. There is no such thing as seniority in our workplace. New people coming in off the street are often treated better or are paid as much as those who have been working here for years.
Seniority is sacred with UFCW Canada. The longer you work for your employer, the more job security, pension rights and certain other considerations you should have. Pay scales should reflect the fact that experienced workers are generally more productive and valuable to the employer than new employees. This may not always be the case, but it’s a good bet in most cases.
Newly-hired employees must be treated with respect and fairness, the same as all others in the workplace. But that doesn’t mean they should be paid the same as experienced workers from the start. UFCW Canada contracts typically have time-based wage progression schedules, with minimum start rates and maximum end rates. It’s a lot fairer than having the boss decide what each person doing the same job should be paid.
10. We never get coffee breaks and when we want to go have a bite to eat after working four or five hours straight, the manager acts like we're taking money out of his own pocket. Some people are intimidated by this and often work without lunch, grabbing a quick bite whenever they can.
Every UFCW Canada contract calls for regular “rest periods” or “coffee breaks” plus a guaranteed half-hour meal break for shifts longer than four or five hours. Of course we can’t stop people from voluntarily working through their breaks (though we discourage it) but we can stop managers from preventing workers from taking their rightful breaks.