If you work in a long-term care facility, you might be concerned about issues such as low pay, long hours, or being short-staffed. One solution may be to start a union at your workplace. Labour unions in Alberta give workers a voice in decisions impacting their working conditions and can help improve wages, benefits, and job security. If you wish to start a union at your long-term care site, here are 5 steps to get the process started.
Step 1: Educate yourself and your co-workers about unions.
Before starting a union, you should be familiar with what unions do and how they work. (This webpage does a great job of explaining the process).
If you have concerns, there is a good chance those you work with do as well. To find out, have private conversations with trusted co-workers about the problems they are facing in the workplace and what needs improvement at work. It is important to not have these conversations during paid time when you are expected to be working.
It’s important to keep these conversations discrete. Address these concerns and explain how a union can help protect their rights and improve working conditions.
Step 2: Contact an Alberta labour union.
Once you know that you have the support of some of your co-workers, the next step is to contact a labour union organizer. Labour union organizers are trained professionals who can help you navigate the process of starting a union at your job site. They can answer any questions about unions, help you build support among your co-workers, and help you assess if starting a union is the right choice for your site.
Teamsters 987 has been representing workers for over eight decades. We understand the importance care workers play in the health and happiness of those living in long-term care homes.
Just as important, we are familiar with the many challenges that are making it harder for care workers to do their jobs properly.
Step 3: Form your organizing committee.
When you have the backing of your colleagues and have chosen a labour union to work with, the next step is to form your organizing committee.
This committee is responsible for developing and executing a plan for starting a union. It may include holding informational meetings, distributing flyers and other materials, and other initiatives to promote union awareness.
One piece of advice is to ensure that the organizing committee reflects all employees within your workplace. In a care facility, that may include care providers, maintenance staff, service providers (eg. hair stylist), and food service team members. The organizer working with you will help guide you throughout this process.
Step 4: Sign an organizing petition.
Next, you will create an ‘organizing petition’ and begin collecting signatures from your colleagues. Signatures are 100% confidential and will never be shared with the employer or management team. When enough support has been achieved, an application for certification can be made and then it is time to vote on unionizing your long-term care site.
Step 5: Vote on starting a union at your long-term care site.
A secret ballot vote is held for all impacted employees by the decision to unionize. All votes are 100% confidential, ensuring that employers cannot determine how an employee has voted. If a simple majority of employees vote in favor of unionizing (51% or more), your union will be legally certified!
Starting a union at your long-term care site can be a challenging process, but it can also be rewarding. By working together with your co-workers and organizing for your rights, you can make a real difference in your workplace and improve your quality of life.