Your rights are outlined in your collective agreement and in federal or provincial law.
Know Your Rights Under the Collective Agreement
Please take the time to review the rights outlined in your collective agreement. Let your union steward know if your employer is violating any of your rights. If you do not know who your steward is, contact the president of the CUPW local in your area. If you have any questions or concerns, union representatives can advise you of your rights and answer your questions.
You have a right to have grievances or complaints submitted on your behalf when your employer violates your rights under the contract.
Obey Now, Grieve Later
In general, you should follow the obey now, grieve later rule. That is, you should obey an order from your employer, even if it violates the collective agreement, and then file a grievance that explains the violation. Of course, there are exceptions to the obey now, grieve later rule. For example, you have a right to refuse to do any work that is a serious threat to your health and safety.
Health and Safety
If you have health and safety concerns, be sure to discuss them with your steward. You have a right to refuse unsafe work under law. You may have additional rights under your collective agreement.
Accidents and Injuries
Report all accidents and injuries, no matter how small, to your employer. Let your steward know about any accidents or injuries as soon as possible. Ask them for help with forms, such as workers’ compensation claims.
May and Shall
Your employer is required to take particular measures when your collective agreement uses the word “shall”. The word “may” indicates that the employer has a choice about taking a measure. The conditions for making a choice are sometimes spelled out in the collective agreement.
If you have questions about hours of work, pay, or other issues, please contact your steward.
Know Your Rights Under Law
The Canadian Labour Congress, an organization representing trade unions and provincial federations of labour, sponsors a web site called WorkRights. This site provides information outlining workers’ rights under provincial and federal labour codes . You can visit their web site at: http://www.workrights.ca
The WorkRights web site is designed for workers who do not enjoy the protection of a union and a collective agreement. But the site is still a handy resource for unionized workers who want to know what basic rights they have under law. Knowing your rights is the first step towards better rights and protections.
It is useful to know what rights you have under law, but look to see what rights you have under your collective agreement first.
If you’re covered by federal law, you can also get information on labour standards from the following government website: http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/gateways/topics/lxn-gxr.shtml
If you do not have access to a computer, you can get similar information by calling the Employment Standards or Labour Standards number in the blue pages of your phone book. Make sure that the number you call covers federal law if you fall under federal jurisdiction or provincial law if you fall under provincial jurisdiction.
If there is no specific listing for Employment Standards or Labour Standards in the blue pages, call the general inquiries number for Government of Canada information if you are covered by federal law or the general inquiries number for provincial information if you are covered by provincial law. These numbers are usually at the beginning of the blue pages. Ask the person you reach to give you the phone number for Employment Standards or Labour Standards.
Your employer must abide by the rules set out in your collective agreement and in federal or provincial law. Contact your union steward if your employer is ignoring the rules. Contact your local president if you do not know who your steward is.