Commonly asked questions... and answers!
What is the function of a union?
The function of a union is to represent employees in negotiating wages and working conditions. It also introduces democracy into the relationship between employees and employers. Working conditions are established with the participation of employees, in contrast to unilateral decision making by the employer.
How can a union help me?
The BCGEU offers assistance in the form of negotiators, lawyers, job classification specialists, pension specialists and experience with resolving grievances and negotiating contracts.
Is membership in the BCGEU kept confidential?
Your membership in a union is confidential and neither the BCGEU nor the Ministry of Labour will disclose it to the employer.
When can I discuss the union?
Employees are free to discuss the union on the employer’s premises during non-working hours (e.g., coffee breaks, lunch, etc.).
If the employer permits people to engage in non-work activities during work time (for example, selling raffle tickets or soliciting membership in service organizations), it may also be permissible to discuss the union during those periods.
Can the employer fire me for supporting or assisting the union?
No! And while it is true that the employer is entitled to conduct “business as usual”, its decisions cannot be influenced in any way by the fact that a person supports the union.
Employers can take routine actions, but it cannot do so if its motivation is to stop the BCGEU organizing drive.
What will happen to my working conditions if the BCGEU becomes certified?
Once the union becomes certified, both the employer and the union are under a legal obligation to bargain collectively and to make every reasonable effort to reach a collective agreement.
The BCGEU’s approach to a first collective agreement is to ensure that existing terms and conditions that employees like are retained and that ones they don’t like are improved. Neither the employer nor the union can dictate terms to each other. A collective agreement is the product of negotiations between the union and the employer.
The union believes that terms of a first agreement must respond to the wishes of the members. We will engage in an extensive consultative process before and during bargaining.
Who will do the bargaining?
Under the BCGEU structure, the members in the bargaining unit elect a bargaining committee (up to 3 members) from among their colleagues to represent them in bargaining with the employer. They will be assisted by a staff representative. All decisions will be made by the bargaining committee and, ultimately, by the membership.
Who gets to vote on a new contract?
The only people who can vote to accept or reject a contract offer made by the employer are the members of the bargaining unit and this means only the employees of the employer.