FOR THE UNIONIZED POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWS OF QUÉBEC UNIVERSITIES
Polytechnique - U Laval - U de Sherbrooke - U de Montréal - UQAR - Mcgill U
Be a member
Having a unionized job does not automatically make you a union member. To become one, you must sign a membership form. If you have not signed and wish to do so, contact your local union.
Why be a member?
Because only members can:
- Attend general assemblies (GA), address the assembly, make proposals or introduce amendments to tabled motions;
- Vote on motions submitted during the GA, in particular on a proposed collective agreement or the use of pressure tactics;
- Run for elected positions (on the executive committee, as a delegate, or on other union bodies);
- Obtain union minutes and financial statements.
A union belongs to its members, who control it through a democratic institution: the general assembly (GA). However, for union democracy to truly work, members must participate actively and in large numbers at GAs.
Why attend general assemblies?
- To contribute to collective reflection on various topics that directly affect you;
- To express your opinion and vote on all matters brought before the GA, from the election of your representatives to your collective agreement;
- For your union to truly represent the interests of all its members.
Being well informed enables you to fully exercise your rights as a member of your union.
- Read the messages that your local union sends you and regularly visit its website. That way, you will know when and where general assemblies are to be held and be able to follow the evolution of important files, including your collective agreement.
- Ask your local union about the procedure code used during general assemblies (GAs). With this knowledge, you will be better able to intervene and express your point of view during GAs.
All union members may run for elected position, such as on the executive committee, the negotiating committee, or as a union delegate.
The positions to be filled and nomination procedures can change from one union to the next. For further information on this subject, contact your local union.
Your union dues correspond to a percentage of your remuneration, and not to a fixed amount. The rate may vary from place to place because union members have some flexibility in determining their dues, which they establish democratically in general assemblies.
Dues are a union’s only source of income. They are used primarily for the following purposes:
- To cover the resources required for the negotiation of collective agreements and the processing of grievances filed by workers against their employer;
- To build a strike fund in order to provide income replacement for workers in the event of a strike;
- To support the day-to-day activities of the union (rent, organization of general assemblies, messages to members, etc.).
Don’t hesitate to seek clarification from your local union on the contribution rate in effect for dues and the use made of your dues.
Voting in a general assembly
Many people incorrectly believe that all votes are taken by a show of hands in union general assemblies.
A secret ballot must be held in the following cases:
- The election of members to official functions;
- The ratification of a collective agreement;
- Voting on the employer’s offers;
- Going on strike.
The other types of motions submitted to the assembly are usually the subject of a vote by show of hands, but members may request a secret ballot in accordance with the conditions in the Constitution and Bylaws of the union (C & B).
Difference between being unionized and being a union member
To explain the difference between being unionized and being a union member, we must talk about union certification.
Certification is the legal recognition of a union by the Commission des relations du travail (CRT). To become certified, a union must prove to the CRT that it has the support of the majority of the group it wishes to represent.
This condition is generally considered to have been met when a union demonstrates that more than 50% of the workers of a group became members by signing a membership form and paying a $2.00 contribution.
Once certified, the union becomes the sole representative of all workers of the group, members and non-members alike, in relation to the employer. In this capacity, it negotiates a collective agreement that applies to everyone in the group, and must ensure fair representation for any worker who encounters problems with the employer (source here, answers C-1, C-2 and C-3, in French only).
As they all share this union coverage, these workers are said to be “unionized.” It is precisely because members and non-members enjoy the same benefits that they pay the same union dues.
One single point differentiates members of a union from non-members: only members can participate in the democratic life of their union, as explained in the “Be a member” section above.
For more information on the certification procedure, go to the Accréditation syndicale page (in French only) on the CRT web site.