Making jobs better for everyone.
For Canada’s unions, it’s a labour of love.
Most new jobs being created these days are considered precarious. That can mean having an unpredictable schedule or undefined hours, being poorly paid or – if you work as an unpaid intern – not being paid at all. It almost always means less access to social protections like sick leave, or benefits like dental and extended health coverage.
Finding secure, full-time and meaningful work is especially challenging for today’s younger workers. Almost a third are in temporary jobs. Youth unemployment is consistently double that of core-age workers. Despite being the most educated generation in history, young people just can’t find the jobs they’re qualified for.
Many of the things first won by unions make all jobs better today — such as minimum wages, overtime pay, workplace safety standards, maternity and parental leave, vacation pay, and protection from discrimination and harassment. But there is so much more to do and here are just some examples of the ways we are doing that.
The Alberta government has announced it will phase in a $15 minimum wage by 2018, and we are working to convince other provinces to do the same so there’s a national standard for all Canadian workers.
In 2015, about 25 percent of Canadian workers – more than four million people – earned at or near the minimum wage. Women are disproportionately represented in this group, with fully one-third earning less than $15 per hour, compared to 22 percent of men. For racialized Canadians and other marginalized groups, the impact can be far greater.
The Fight for $15 campaign has been gaining momentum throughout North America for the past several years, with key wins in California, New York, Seattle and most recently, Washington, D.C. In Ontario, the $15 and Fairness campaign is calling for more fairness at work on other issues too, like winning paid sick days and predictable scheduling, and stopping contract flipping.
In 2016, Canada’s unions won a major Supreme Court decision that will protect 500,000 non-union workers from being fired without cause. The case impacts workers in banks, telecommunications, transportation companies and some crown corporations.
In partnership with the United Way, we help families affected by workplace shutdowns. We also work together to support the many Canadians who work full-time but live below the poverty line. Together, we help workers connect with new employers and get the training they need to qualify for a better job.
We’ve organized with thousands of workers at major Canadian grocery outlets where shift scheduling can be unpredictable and full-time hours hard to come by.
We organized so more than 10,000 part-time workers at Ontario’s 60 Loblaws Great Food and Superstores could win fairer scheduling and better hours. They now get ten instead of three days’ notice of when they have to work. That makes juggling life and work a lot easier, especially for parents. They’ve also won minimum hour guarantees, which is especially helpful for those who would otherwise be juggling multiple jobs.
We also organized to make jobs better for thousands of workers at Metro stores. They also won predictable timetables and better hours of work. For example, part-timers are now guaranteed a minimum of 15 hours a week after a year of service and 24 hours after eight years.
We’ve also won a bit more fairness for public sector workers who do some of the hardest work around — taking care of our loved ones. That means better wages for community support, child care and long term care workers. We’ve also won decent wages for midwives, and commitments from government to look into how to improve service delivery for midwives and their clients.
We are working with federal and provincial governments to win better province-wide and national standards for all workers. For example, we’ve taken part in the Ontario government’s Changing Workplaces Review, which strives to improve standards for all Ontario workers, and we are encouraging other provincial governments to follow suit.
We know that tackling climate change means transforming our energy, transportation, and buildings sectors. So we are working with allies to develop transition strategies for a new clean energy economy that creates jobs, keeps communities alive and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.