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Your Rights in Canada

Joining a union is a basic democratic right that is protected by law throughout Canada. Under federal and provincial labour laws, workers have the right to join a union of their choice. It is your decision, and it is illegal for your employer to try to interfere with it.

Employers, like the union, are allowed to express their opinion about an organizing drive, but they are not allowed to use “coercion, intimidation, threats, promises, or undue influence.”

Organizing a union in Canada

Join a Local of the Operating Engineers

The first step toward a better working life is the local’s membership application. This card does not automatically make you a union member. By signing the application (and paying a small fee in some provinces), you indicate that you want the local to represent you in collective bargaining.

When enough people (the percentage varies according to provincial and/or federal law) where you work have signed up with the local, the local can apply for certification with the provincial or federal labour board.


Once the required number of employees has signed authorization cards, the local will apply to the Provincial or Federal Labour Board for certification. The board will notify your employer and set a date for a hearing. An official notice will be posted in your workplace informing all employees of the application.

Your shop or employer may be certified by one of two methods:  In most provinces, the  Labor Board will examine the membership applications and determine whether a majority desire union representation (the percentage varies from province to province). If so, it will then certify the local as your union representative. In other provinces, the  Labour Board will, after examination of the membership applications, conduct an election among the employees. Once a majority (50 percent plus 1) have voted for union representation, the Labour Board will certify the local as your union representative.  In some cases, the Labour Board may convene a hearing.

In either case, once the local is certified, your employer is required by law to negotiate in good faith to the conclusion of a collective bargaining agreement.

The labour laws in Canada differ from province to province.  For specifics on how the process works in your province, we suggest you contact the Local Union in your province directly.