Need a Union?

Why You Need a Union
What, Exactly, is a Union?
What Can a Union Do For Me?
Are There Other Benefits?
What If There Isn't a Union Where I Work?
How to Join This Union

"I think back to working at non-union papers in amazement,
recalling how unscrupulously I was exploited
with no support from my co-workers."

Troy Nixdorf
Graphic Designer, Victoria Times Colonist


Perhaps, in a perfect world, we wouldn't need unions. Employers would treat workers with respect and pay decent wages. No one would be disciplined or fired unjustly, denied promotions unfairly, harassed by bad bosses or pressured to work long hours without proper overtime pay.

Essentially, a union brings democracy to a workplace. We wouldn't dream of living in a community where we couldn't vote or have a say in how things are run, so why would we accept such a situation at work?


A union is a democratic organization run by the employees at a workplace, through their elected leaders. A union's main goal is to vigorously represent employee interests. It negotiates everyone's wages and working conditions with an employer — everything from base pay to hours of work to the setting of professional standards.

Remember: It is your right to join a union. It is illegal for your employer to take action against you or your colleagues for union activities.

A union helps level the playing field between you and your employer and gives you a voice in your workplace. Acting alone, you have little power. If you ask for a raise or want something improved and your boss says no, what can you do? With a union, by bargaining collectively and speaking with a united voice, you can get results. Having a union means there's someone to go to bat for you in a workplace dispute.

By negotiating a contract for everyone (collective bargaining), unions achieve:

  • Better pay and benefits

  • Job security (you can't be fired unjustly)

  • Improved working conditions

  • A fair process for dealing with problems

  • Protection against discrimination and harassment at work

Most union contracts allow for flexibility (such as flexible work hours) and respect the principle of individual advancement based on good work.

At the same time, unions ensure a fair approach if the economic climate makes layoffs necessary. Objective standards (such as seniority) are used to determine the order by which people are laid off.


If your workplace does not have a union, you have some but not all the rights you'd have in a unionized environment. The labour codes in each province give you some minimum protection. Visit to find out the minimum wage and other work standards in your province.

If you want the better work conditions provided by this union, we want to help you. Visit our How to Join page for more information or contact CWA Canada's national office in Ottawa:

613-820-9777 | 1-877-486-4292