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Today’s Objectives. Why employees sometimes seek help from unions Identifying vulnerabilities Proactive steps to increase chances some employees might surface a union drive early Options when faced with organizing

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Today s objectives
Today’s Objectives

  • Why employees sometimes seek help from unions

  • Identifying vulnerabilities

  • Proactive steps to increase chances some employees might surface a union drive early

  • Options when faced with organizing

  • Recognizing impact effective leadership has on employee engagement & remaining union-free

Canadian labourwatch association informed employees making informed choices
Canadian LabourWatch AssociationInformed Employees Making Informed Choices

Only “balanced” site for employees wanting:

  • information without pro-union, anti-mgmt bias

  • resources if they have no lawyer

  • tool to assist a lawyer in helping employees

    FAQ’s for employees

    Download documents: cancel cards, decertification, file employee Unfair Labour Practices against a union

    Links to unions

    Research & education

Union Density Rates – Canada vs USPublic and Private Sector Combined - 1960 to 2010 - (OECD Data; CDN 1997-2010 = StatCan)

2010 Private Sector(Not OECD data)

6.9% - US(Dept of Labor)

17.5% - Canada(StatCan)

Note: includes Members and non-Members

(OECD Private vs Public breakout not available)

Unionization public and private breakout 2012
Unionization – Public and Private Breakout - 2012

Unionized Private Sector 17.6%

Union-Free Public Sector 25.5%



Unionized Public Sector 74.5%

Union-Free Private Sector 82.4%



Total Workers – 14,941,100

Excludes self-employed

Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey 2012

Unionization density trend 1981 to 2012
Unionization Density Trend – 1981 to 2012


& Labrador

Workforce %

British Columbia




Data: Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey 2012

Unionization interest union free 2013
Unionization Interest – Union-free (2013)

Q2. If you are not unionized now, would you be very interested, somewhat interested, somewhat not interested or not at all interested in being unionized in your current job? Base: Never and Formerly unionized (n=910)

Why is retail a target
Why is Retail a Target?

  • Non-exportable business

  • Expansion of retailers in Canada

  • The domino effect in retail

    • Unionize one store to get another

    • DC’s & call centres easier targets than stores

  • Susceptibility of the retail sector

    • Open access, wages, seasonal layoffs, working conditions & hours, scheduling

Today s organizing strategies
Today’s Organizing Strategies

  • Frustrated employees contact a union

    • #1 source of organizing, too often a surprise

  • Technology

    • YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs

  • “Salting”

  • Corporate Campaigns

    • Websites, public protests, advertising, media

Visible signs of union organizing
Visible Signs of Union Organizing

  • Union cards

  • Union leaflets

  • Union propaganda

Visible signs of union organizing1
Visible Signs of Union Organizing

  • Taking to Twitter with the hashtag #GoodJobsRev to get the conversation started.

  • Watch for Unifor’s ‘National Good Jobs Summit’ where we will bring together all stakeholders to start a conversation about creating jobs with fair wages – jobs safe & secure.

Our sobeys2
OUR Sobeys

We work hard to make our Sobeys successful, but we are not always treated with the respect we deserve. The company often chooses not to follow our employee handbook and the open door policy is broken. When we raise important concerns about our working conditions, they are swept under the rug and sometimes we even feel punished for standing up for our values. Scheduling is unpredictable and many employees do not get enough hours to make ends meet. Instead of recognizing our dedication and length of service, our hours are often cut and we’re still waiting for the pay increases we deserve.

Proactive preparation
Proactive Preparation

  • Training – esp front line supervisors/mgrs

    • Recognizing covert organizing

    • Do’s & don’ts

    • How to respond: build confidence, role plays

  • “5 Day Plans”

  • SWAT Teams

  • Communication track record & credibility

  • Overall paradigm shift re real employee wishes

  • Managing change

  • Proactive preparation1
    Proactive Preparation

    • Leadership training

      • Get comfortable talking about unions

    • Review strategies to

      • Mend relationships

      • Create new relationships

    • Policy reviews

      • Review recent disciplines/terminations

      • Payroll issues

    Responding to union chatter leafleting
    Responding to “Union Chatter” & Leafleting

    • Look for Quick Wins

      • Break rooms, washrooms, schedule posting

    • Listen & Educate

      • What does signing a card mean

    • External Research

      • Research recent organizing efforts within industry

    Responding to card certification drives
    Responding to Card Certification Drives

    • Respond swiftly to rumours

    • Activity: Assume 1 card away from losing

    • What are the issues? Focus groups

    • Mgmt-led all employee meetings, open Q&A

    Proactive employer strategies
    Proactive Employer Strategies

    Leverage the near-death experience

    Focus on both short & the long ball


    • Not enough cards signed for cert without a vote

    • Quick action can defeat expedited elections

    • Employee defeat of strike vote if certified

    • Employee rejection of collective agreement


    • Create environment ripe for decertification

    • Improved sales & profits, employee engagement

    Strategic proactive considerations
    Strategic Proactive Considerations

    • Critically assess your leadership teams

    • “Dashboard” to monitor for problem locations

    • Prepare for Application for Certification

      • Test time to get accurate & rated employee lists

      • On the shelf draft communications blessed by local counsel in each operating province

      • Updated contact lists – all key internal & external players – imagine 3 days application to vote . . .

    What do leaders do
    What Do Leaders Do? Engagement

    • Relevant ops & HR policies & procedures

    • Execute the above . . .

    • Set expectations & manage performance

    • Motivate, activate & engage employees

    • Communicate & inform

    • Address workplace issues

    • Gain & keep TRUST of employees

    Why is trust so important
    Why is Trust so Important? Engagement

    If they believe in you they will choose…


    Current reality
    Current Reality Engagement

    • Law & system biased towards unionization

    • Management responsibility to inform employees

    • Employees have greater free speech & activity rights

    • Majority of employees not pre-disposed to unionization

    Employee rights to oppose unionization
    Employee Rights to Oppose Unionization Engagement

    Employees have rights to be union-free:

    • Employees may refuse to sign union cards during organizing

    • Issues of intimidation, coercion, undue influence, misinformation by organizers / fellow employees

    • Employees may openly campaign against the union

    • Employees have greater free speech & action rights than unions & CERTAINLY greater than employers

    • Employees may cancel union cards & try to file them in time

    • More likely to do all of this if they know employer wants to be union-free

    Proactive employer strategies1
    Proactive Employer Strategies Engagement

    Employees KNOW where employer stands

    • Most of employees don’t want to be unionized

    • They will tell you early on

    • They will resist

    • Maybe they can will find help


    • 80% opposed can all sign if relationship is blown

    • You can still recover in expedited elections

    • Focus on future decertification if not

    Summary Engagement

    • Only 18% of private sector unionized, down from 30%

    • 83% of private sector workers union-free in spite of biased labour codes & LRB / court decisions

    • 71% of public sector employees are unionized

    • 77 % of union-free Canadians don’t want to be unionized

    • 27 - 33% of currently unionized don’t want to be

    Some of them work for you – do they know where you stand?

    Conclusions Engagement

    • Do you have the right team?

      • HR

      • Legal

      • Consultants

    • Clear union-free policies & training

    • If unionized, what is your plan?

    Contact info
    Contact Info Engagement

    Mike Sherrard – Sherrard Kuzz LLP

    250 Yonge Street, Suite 3300

    Toronto, Ontario M5B 2L7

    Phone: 1-416-603-6240

    John Mortimer – Mortimer & Company

    2077 Nelson Street, Suite 1102

    Vancouver, BC V6G 2Y2

    Phone: 1-604-720-0133