During the pandemic, many people have found themselves jobless, or have had their hours cut. Others, who are employed are often so grateful to still have their jobs that they ignore being mistreated by their employers. The safety and mental health of all workers is important, but employers don’t always make sure to prioritize these things.
One thing that helps prevent employers from putting their employees in unfavorable working conditions are unions. Unions help maintain a certain standard of workplace safety and comfortability for employees. Unions actively ensure that employees can take their breaks, safely do their jobs and not have to deal with a hostile work environment – all without the threat of being fired.
Employers are not always thrilled when employees decide to unionize. It means the employers have to follow extra regulations and cater to their employees. Employers often use scare and intimidation tactics to ensure their employees don’t unionize. An example of this behaviour is what Amazon is currently doing to prevent their workers from unionizing (https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/02/amazon-union-warehouse-workers/
) . Amazon trying to prevent North American employees from unionizing is not surprising, given many allegations about Amazon’s unfair working conditions including employees being so discouraged from taking breaks that they’re forced to pee in bottles, and one employee alleging that they were forced to work around a dead body.
Employees unionizing in work environments that take advantage of employees and avoid their mental and physical wellbeing sounds like a good idea, but some anti-union propaganda and intimidation from managers about unionizing. “managers harangued workers with regular one-on-one meetings”
“They were very aggressive, going right up to the edge of what labor law allowed. That’s very intimidating for an employee.”
Union certification votes need to happen extremely efficiently and as fast as possible. Otherwise, employers have an easier time of putting up anti union posters, having anti-union mandatory meetings, and doing everything in their power to deter employees from unionizing.
Mail in voting can take a while to commence, and in person voting can have certain barriers for busier employees, and is not always the safest way to vote during covid. Online voting for union certification votes helps speed up voting periods and provides less time for employers to use tactics listed above. Also, it might be wise to keep unionization a secret from managers and employers. At least until the labor board discloses the results of unionization and certification vote. Keeping the names of other pro-union workers secret until your union gets certified is a good idea as well. It keeps employees safe from having their work performance go underneath a microscope, as some employers feel motivated to let go of union workers if they can find some sort of cause for termination fast enough.
Unionization or no, if you are being mistreated by your workplace in British Columbia file a complaint here: http://www.bcest.bc.ca or find your city/ country’s equivalent.