What can I do if my union won’t help me?
Question & AnswerWhat can I do if my union won’t help me?
When you’re in a , you usually have to use the process in the if your employer does not follow what the agreement says.
But if your complaint is about something that goes against your human rights, you might be able to make a human rights claim instead of using the process in your collective agreement. Or you might be able to do both.
You also have the right to refuse to do work that’s not safe. And you can act on this right without talking to your union.
And if your employer punishes or threatens to punish you for acting on your right, you may be able to make a complaint to the Ontario Labour Relations Board. You may be able to do this instead of using the process in your collective agreement. Or you might be able to do both.
What the union has to do for you
Your union has to:
- listen to you and discuss the problem you’re having
- consider what you want
- make an honest and fair decision about what to do
What the union’s rights are
The union has the right to decide:
- what steps they’ll take when you have a problem with your employer that’s about rights in the collective agreement
- how far they’ll go with the complaint process that’s in the agreement
- what they’ll agree to with the employer
The “duty of fair representation”
The union does not have to do what you want. But they do have to make their decisions in an honest and fair way.
They owe you what’s called a “duty of fair representation”. This applies when you ask the union for help dealing with a problem you have with your employer that’s about rights in the collective agreement.
This means that the union’s decisions cannot be arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.
These are legal terms and it can be difficult to know if they apply to your situation. Read about what they mean in Step 4 below.
Making a complaint against your union
If your union won’t help you, you might be able to make a complaint to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (Labour Board). This is called making an application about the union’s “duty of fair representation”.
This can be a difficult process. And union members rarely win at the Labour Board when they make complaints against their union.
Try to get legal help if you’re thinking about making an application to the Labour Board.