BC Unions – What Rights do You Have as a Member?


Not every employee is a member of labour organizations or unions. On this same note, not all labour organizations afford their members the same rights and privileges. With this in mind, one might wonder what rights are afforded to them in terms of work protection in British Columbia, if they choose to pay union dues and fees to a trade organization. When deciding whether or not joining a union is worth the annual costs and fees, these are some benefits one should look for as a member.

  1. Core labour standards –
    Among the basic rights afforded under work protection in British Columbia, employees have several basic rights working for an employer. Among these are:
    – The freedom of association.
    – The right of collective bargaining agreement.
    – Prohibition of forms of forced labour.
    – Non-discrimination in the workplace.
    Core standards protect every worker, regardless of gender, age, race, or creed. Basically, if you are an employee and part of the union organization, these are basic rights afforded to you as a member.2. Issues in the workplace –
    If you are a member of a union, you also have protected rights within the organization. If you believe discrimination is taking place, union leaders will step in and provide assistance to fight such discrimination. If child labour or improper use of employees is occurring, protections are also afforded to members. No matter which infractions or civil liberties are being infringed on, your union leaders will assist you in dealing with such issues.

    3. Right to pay (in the event of termination) –
    Downsizing occurs in most union industries. When you are a member of these organizations, your wages are typically protected. This means if pay rates decrease in the future your wages shouldn’t be affected. If your company downsizes, and you are one who is let go, you should receive pay benefits (typically 6 months to 1 year in most industries). If industry wide pay cuts occur, your wages are protected as a union member.

    Due to the nature of certain industries (railway work, construction, government industries, etc), firing and downsizing are common in many industries. Labour unions are going to afford individuals who are member’s at least minimal protections on these fronts.

    Is paying union fees worth the protections? –
    There are dozens of labour unions. Fees, annual increases, coverage, and protections will vary in each one of them. Depending on the industry you work in and type of work you perform, there are different forms of coverage and protections offered to members.

    In deciding whether or not to become a member, individuals must understand the labour laws (regulations, rules, etc). Members must also familiarize themselves with relevant laws and bylaws. It is also important to learn about annual fees, and potential increase of labour dues, if industry rates do increase over time.

    For most industries and employees, it is well worth investing in membership with local unions. The protections afforded to members provide you the peace of mind in knowing your employment and wages are secure. And, even if downsizing does occur in your company, you are at least covered for a period of time, meaning you will still earn wages in the event you aren’t working for any length of time.

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