Member Resources Union Victories

Pay Equity Legislation

Pay Equity legislation, enacted in 1988, addresses gender discrimination in compensation for work performed by employees in female job classes compared to male jobs within the organization.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada waged a court battle in order to achieve pay equity for the membership in the early 1980’s and the recent victory for Canada Post members tells the story of the opposition that the union met throughout the years. The cost has been enormous and, for less dedicated sponsors, could have been crippling and they might have accepted lesser deals in order to save money and human resources. This was not the case with our union and we are very fortunate to be affiliated with an organization that holds human rights in such high esteem.

Union dues are a small price to pay when you consider the value in terms of financial gain and human rights protections.

How are the pay equity and employment equity programs different?

While both promote and support the goal of equity in the workplace, equal pay for work of equal value, or pay equity as it is often called, refers to the payment of equal wages to males and females performing work that is determined to be of equal value. The objective of pay equity legislation is to close that part of the wage gap that is due to pay inequities based on gender.

Employment equity programs arise from the Employment Equity Act and are also administered by the Labour Program. Their objective is to ensure that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability. Employment equity is intended to correct the conditions of disadvantage in employment experienced by women, Aboriginal peoples, people with disabilities and visible minorities.

Perspective: Legislation is only the 1st step in ensuring employment fairness in a workplace. Employers and unions must continue to work very hard and effectively in order to take the steps necessary to ensure that the intent of the legislation is respected and enacted.

Member Resources Union Victories Union Victories

Why You Should Give Thanks to the Labor Movement

The information below has been borrowed (and altered in some places) from an article by Donna Ballman , “Give Thanks To The Labor Movement”, Posted Oct 7th 2011 @ 8:35AM

A lot of things have changed for workers in the past century and that is thanks to the Labor Movement. Not so long ago, things were much different for workers in North America.  One story that sticks out was Triangle Shirtwaist Factory tragedy.  The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was a sweatshop. Women and children, mostly immigrants, worked for terrible wages in terrible conditions. When a fire broke out, they couldn’t escape because the employer had locked them in. The employer said it was to stop theft, but many others say it was to keep the workers from leaving and taking breaks. The fire escapes had collapsed and the elevators stopped working in the 10-story building. One hundred forty six workers died that day in 1911, many as young as 14.

Before the labor movement, it wasn’t uncommon for sweatshops to engage in human trafficking. Workers in coal mines, factories, farms and many other workplaces were sometimes forced to work while getting further and further in debt. Many workers were paid in company “scrip” that they could use only at the company store. They could never save for their families and never hope for a better life. Children had to work starting very young, to help support their families, with no opportunity to go to school.

The labor movement created much needed change for workers.  It is important to remember that, without unions, workers would not have these benefits we take for granted:

  • Minimum wage
  • Overtime pay
  • Paid vacation
  • Sick days
  • Safety standards/OSHA
  • Child labor laws
  • Weekends
  • 40-hour work week
  • Health benefits
  • Unemployment compensation

You might be thinking to yourself, “Wow, my job doesn’t look so bad after all”. Well, you can thank union leaders for the rights that many of us take for granted. These rights were hard won, and they can be taken away.  It is important for unions to remain strong and defend those rights, or risk losing them and the benefits that we all enjoy and deserve.

News Union Victories

History of Unions in Canada

  • Labour unions have existed in Canada since the early 1800s. There is a record of skilled tradesmen in the Maritimes having a union organization during the War of 1812.
  • Canadian unionism had early ties with Britain. Tradesmen who came from Britain brought traditions of the British trade union movement, and many British unions had branches in Canada. Canadian unionism ties with the United States eventually replaced those with Britain.
  • A key development in the growth of unionism came in 1872 when printers in Toronto went on strike for a nine-hour-day. Union activity was illegal at the time, and many prominent labour leaders were arrested. Mass protests ensued, resulting in the dropping of charges and the legalization of union activity.
  • The first national labour organization was formed in 1873 at a national convention in Toronto. The organization later became the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada in 1883, a forerunner of the present Canadian Labour Congress.
  • The early 1900s saw massive escalations in labour activity as workers demanded universal eight-hour days, union recognition and better wages. Between 1919 and 1920 there were over 1500 strikes involving an estimated 375,000 workers. The largest of these was the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, which involved over 25,000 Winnipeg workers. The government used strike breakers, police and army to violently end the strike.
  • The early 1900s also saw the development of labour politics. In 1921 the Communist Party of Canada was founded, and in 1932 the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation was created. Both parties supported worker rights and were critical of capitalism. The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation eventually became the New Democratic Party.
  • Collective bargaining was first recognized in 1937, following a strike by the United Auto Workers at the General Motors’ plant in Oshawa, Ontario.
  • Justice Ivan Rand issued a landmark legal decision following a strike in Windsor, Ontario, involving 17,000 Ford workers. He granted the union the compulsory check-off of union dues. Rand ruled that all workers in a bargaining unit benefit from a union-negotiated contract. Therefore, he reasoned they must pay union dues, although they do not have to join the union.
  • The post-World War II era also saw an increased pattern of unionization in the public service. Teachers, nurses, social workers, professors, and cultural workers (those employed in museums, orchestras, and art galleries) all sought private-sector collective bargaining rights.
  • In the 1970s the federal government came under intense pressures to curtail labour cost and inflation. In 1975, the Liberal government under Prime Minister Trudeau introduced mandatory price and wage controls. Under the new law, wages increases were monitored and those ruled to be unacceptably high were rolled back by the government.
  • Pressures on unions continued into the 1980s and 90s. Private sector unions faced plant closures in many manufacturing industries and demands to reduce wages and increase productivity. Public sector unions came under attack by federal and provincial governments as they attempted to reduce spending, reduce taxes and balance budgets. Legislation was introduced in many jurisdictions reversing union collective bargaining rights, and many jobs were lost to contractors.