How to Join a Union
We believe every workplace can be better. Forming a union is about joining together with your co-workers to create a real voice in the decisions that affect you and your colleagues to make your workplace better.
How to Join a Union in Canada – Five Steps
STEP 1 - Contact the United Steelworkers
We recommend the first thing you do is contact the USW for assistance. We have full-time staff dedicated to assisting you and your co-workers. We can offer confidential advice and support on how to proceed. Click here to connect.
STEP 2 – Form a Team
After speaking with us, talk with some of your trusted co-workers. What do they want to see changed about the workplace? What would make your working conditions better? Are there company practices that aren’t fair? Are complaints being treated seriously? Is it a respectful work environment? Does everyone feel safe?
If you find that there are common issues that you and your co-workers would like to see addressed, it might be time to build a “union organizing committee.” Ideally, this team should include someone from each department and shift. This team will learn all of the legal dos and don’ts and work to educate co-workers.
STEP 3 - Build a Majority
After identifying issues and establishing your team, it is time to start talking more openly. To build a majority, you and the team will ask your co-workers to sign union cards to demonstrate their support. Union cards are important because when enough cards are signed you can apply to the Labour Board to be officially certified as a union.
STEP 4 - Win the Vote or Card Count
Your provincial Labour Board legally recognizes, or "certifies" unions. There are two ways Labour Boards in Canada recognize unions:
- Card Count: a certain amount of cards get signed showing support for a union
- Vote: a secret ballot vote shows most employees want a union
STEP 5 - Negotiate a contract
Now that you have formed your union and it has been officially certified by the Labour Board, you and your co-workers can get ready to negotiate your first contract, also called a collective agreement. This means that all of the ideas you and your team collected on how your workplace could be better can finally happen.
Get in touch with us if you are interested in joining a union. There is nothing to fear. The USW will be there with you every step of the way.