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Join the United Steelworkers!
Get to know the union
WHAT IS A UNION?
A union is simply an organization of workers whose mission is to improve the lives of its members, their families and the communities in which they live.
WHO WE ARE
With a history in the steel industry, the United Steelworkers - USW -- now has members in every sector of our economy.
Many of our members make steel, but they also make aluminum, glass, other metals, paper products, and dozens of manufactured goods. Our union represents miners and loggers and security guards. We make energy-saving wind turbines, tires and other car parts, as well as forestry products and furniture. Steelworkers work in telecommunications, health care, universities, chemical plants, retail stores and banks. We work in hotels, call centres and airports.
Our union is made up of 1.2 million members - working people like you, brought together by a basic belief in a better life for all. And you’ll find us championing for these beliefs, at the work place, in our communities, in the courts and in legislatures. We’re global, we’re local and we’re online: www.usw.org.
Together, we are stronger.
Your Rights as a Worker
Know Your Labour Rights
Can I legally join a union?
YES. The Ontario Labour Relations Act (Section 5) guarantees your right to join the union and to participate in its lawful activities. The law also gives you the right to help your coworkers join the union too.
Can my employer, threaten or fire me for organizing a union?
NO. The law protects you and the USW makes sure the law is upheld. The Ontario Labour Relations Act says it is illegal for your employer to fire you, suspend you, or punish you in any way for joining the USW or helping your coworkers join. Your union activity is strictly confidential. You don’t have to tell anyone you’re a union member unless you decide you want to.
Aren’t there laws that protect us?
Yes. There are laws that guarantee the minimum standards an employer has to meet, but those are only the basics. Your union contract will always be better. You deserve more than the minimum standards.
Why is a Union Contract Important?
Your contract is a legally binding document between the workers and the employer. It provides the opportunity to negotiate regular pay increases, benefits, and address any other issues important to you and your coworkers. It is a set of guidelines for workers and management to follow to ensure a fair and respectful workplace.
ALSO, Section 86 of the Labour Relations Act, also called the “Freeze Provision” prevents the employer from changing your current employment terms when you apply for a union. When you join a union, you maintain everything you currently have and use that as the starting point for bargaining.
Steelworkers Make Great Neighbours!
A union that works in our communities
The USW is a union with deep history and ties to communities – after all, where we work is often where we live and the people with whom we work are often our neighbors. That’s why you will find our union volunteering to help coach children or support youth activities; donating time and money to the needy; supporting scholarships; staffing food and clothing drives; funding charities and so much more. You can read stories and see photos of our various community service work at www.usw.org/uswcares or by searching the #USWCares hashtag on social media. We are truly a union that works in our communities.
How to form your own Steelworkers Union
Step 1: Contact the USW
Speak with a USW organizer who has the expertise to help you and your coworkers join a union. All inquiries are 100% confidential.
Step 2: Sign USW Membership Cards
Once a minimum of 40% of your co-workers have signed union cards, the USW can apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board to legally recognize, or “certify” your union. The Labour Board will hold a vote for the workers (Step 3). Card signing is confidential. The employer NEVER sees the cards or the list of card signers.
Step 3: Vote YES! For the Union
The Labour Board will hold a secret ballot vote. When a majority of workers vote for the union, the Labour Board will certify the United Steelworkers as your legal bargaining agent and representative.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE A UNION…
It’s time to negotiate your first contract with your employer which protects the terms and conditions of your employment and gives you a real voice at work. The USW will be with you every step of the way with the expertise you need. Congratulations!
Connect with the USW
Let's stand together to make a better life for ourselves, our families and our communities.
Questions? Let's Chat!
Organizer, United Steelworkers
* all inquiries are 100% confidential