SPECIAL NOTE

  • Read your Agreement carefully. Ask the Union or its committee for clarification if needed.
  • Carry an Agreement with you at all times.
  • Keep all paperwork issued by the company.
  • Check pay subs carefully for accuracy. Keep them for future reference.
  • Submit payroll complaints in writing. Make sure they are dated and signed. Include days, hours of work (shifts) and department worked in the last pay period. Always keep a copy for your own records.
  • Do not accept working conditions, hours of work, shift schedules or rates of pay other than outlined in this agreement.

Notify the Union immediately if you:

  • Are injured on the job.
  • Are having difficulty obtaining short-term or long-term disability insurance payments.
  • Have questions regarding eligibility or coverage under your health and welfare plan.
  • Change your address or phone number.
  • Change employers.

Remember you are responsible for:

  • Keeping your Union dues up to date when you are off work for an extended period of time. You must make arrangements to pay dues directly to the Union office.

If you need to contact the Union office:

  • The address is 203 - 129 Columbia Street East, New Westminster, B.C. V3L 3V7
  • Our phone number is: 604 777 2991
  • Our toll-free number outside the lower mainland is: 1 877 798 6466
  • Our web page address is www.rwunion.com.

What your Union does for you:

  • Negotiates and enforces the collective agreement.
  • Settles your grievances.
  • Organizes new shops to ensure strength in community.
  • Prepares necessary paperwork, insurances, etc.
  • Keeps you informed; holds monthly meeting. Post monthly general meeting notices in shops. Discloses all monies coming in and going out of the Union.
  • Supports fair Labour Legislation.
  • Furnishes legal protection when needed.
  • Acts in your interest with the community as will as the management.

Where do your dues go?

  • Rent, administration supplies, and equipment.
  • Affiliation fees.
  • Salaries and expenses for full time representatives.
  • Salaries for support administration, and pension administration staff.
  • Printing, postage, and educational materials.
  • Labour Board and Arbitration expenses.
  • Other legal expenses.
  • Cost incurred in Labour disputes.
  • Organizing expenses and negotiating expenses.
  • Expenses for continuing education for members.

NO MARKET FOR UNIONS?

True to its neo-conservative form, the National Post marked Labour Day by launching a week-long journalistic feeding frenzy on organized labour.

Day after day, Post readers were told unions were a spent force -- out of step with their members and shunned by workers not yet unionized. The evidence that unleashed this print avalanche? A dubious poll sponsored by a laughably partisan client (more about that below).

Pity no one told all this to Gencie Marshall. After a decade as a loyal employee of Havergal College (the private Toronto girls' school), the 63-year-old receptionist was summarily dismissed two years before her retirement. A woman of colour, Ms. Gracie had complained about the lack of visible minority staff.

In a delicious irony, her story appeared on the front page of the National Post the day it concluded its week-long assault on labour. I could hear the grinding of teeth in the editorial boardroom all the way to Ottawa. Nothing like the truth to get in the way of a good story!

Sadly, Ms. Marshall had no union to protect her. A union would have provided a grievance process, representation and an anti-discrimination clause in a collective agreement. Instead, she mounted a one-woman picket in an attempt to embarrass Havergal. In gaining media attention, it didn't hurt that her daughter is pop singer Amanda Marshall. However, not everyone can draw on such connections to publicize or redress workplace problems.

As for the Post's poll, readers are served up more ideology than information. First of all, who is this virtually unknown "LabourWatch" that drew up the survey? The Post fails to identify it in its front-page article kicking off the series.

LabourWatch turns out to be a virtual Who's Who of vehemently anti-labour organizations -- the National Citizens Coalition, provincial contractors associations, small business coalitions and dozens of management-side law firms. These groups are united in their determination to deny workers their fundamental right under the Charter of Rights to join a union.

LabourWatch trumpets that it "strives to be neutral." It appears to misunderstand the meaning of the word. My Oxford Dictionary defines neutral as "taking neither side, or impartial." However, LabourWatch proudly offers advice on "how to revoke a union card, how to decertify a union and what unions cannot guarantee." It provides downloadable information on decertification and cancellation of a union card. Such "neutrality" gave birth to the Post's poll.

And what of the Post's own conflict of interest? Its newsroom, alone among the four Toronto-based daily newspapers, is unorganized. Enough said.

It is a truism that any poll can get the answers it wants if you cook the questions. Media outlets rightly demand the full methodology, complete list of questions and cross-tabulations of any CLC-commissioned poll that we take public. Yet, we have been refused access to this information in your own poll.

A careful reading of your series also fails to find any comment from Leger Marketing, the polling firm that fielded the poll designed by LabourWatch. Pollsters are not known for their media shyness. Lack of comment from the professionals at Leger is conspicuous by its absence.

Interestingly enough, there were some pro-union responses that not even the most slanted questions and biased editing could squelch. More than four out of five union members were satisfied with their union. In fact, almost one in three Post poll respondents said they were "very satisfied" with their union. This hardly sounds, as the Post claims, that labour is out of step with its members.

Given the heightened public cynicism prevailing with regard to all organizations, that is a phenomenal level of satisfaction. Stephen Harper -- Alliance Party leader and past head of the aforementioned National Citizens Coalition - would likely sell his soul to Karl Marx to reach half that approval rating!

The Post poll reported that the vast majority -- 79% -- of union members say they receive good communications from their leaders. Investors should be so lucky. Organized labour is democratic and transparent in a way shareholders could only wish Canadian corporations were. And, unlike big business, we obtain a mandate for all our activities.

Anil Verma, the University of Toronto industrial relation professor, was quoted in one of the articles as noting: "There is always a power balance in favour of the employer." Are we to say that it's fine for the already-dominant corporate community to throw its political weight around, but not so for organized labour?

The Post also relishes in the fact that only one in five unorganized workers is interested in joining a union. Given the general anti-union media bias and our own lack of such tools of mass communication, it is remarkable that more than two million Canadians who would sign up if given an opportunity. This number does not begin to consider the many more who keep an open mind and would probably join after a full and fair discussion of the issue.

Joining a union is an individual decision. A choice made by thousands of Canadians every year. Individuals like Gencie Marshall. And that will ensure the continued vitality and strength of organized labour.

The Canadian Labour Congress has been here for well over a century. And we'll still be here long after the National Post has disappeared -- sunk by an imported neo-conservative agenda out of step with the fundamental decency and sense of fair play of the Canadian people.

Ken Georgetti is president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

This article, by Ken Georgetti, was also published in the National Post on Tuesday, September 09, 2003.


The Case of the Union Hitchhiker

Have you ever driven down the road and encountered a hitchhiker? The thumb is giving you a clear message: " If you furnish the car, the time and do the driving, I'll ride with you. But you're nuts if you think I'm going to chip in on the gas money. And by the way, if you have a wreck and I'm hurt, I'll sue you for all you've got."

There are hitchhikers in a Union as also.

In one way they are saying:

"If the government will give me a tax break on my dues contribution and you supply the protection of a contract, negotiate that contract, protect me at work, get me fair and decent wages, health benefits, and hours of work, I'll ride along with you. But you're crazy if you think I'm going to get involved and help you make this a better place to work. And by the way, if anything happens that irritates me, you'll hear from me."

Think about it-are you just thumbing a free ride? Or can you do a little more to help us all out?


Have you moved?

Please inform the Union office at 604-777-2991. Informing the company you work for of your new address does not mean that the Union has received the information. Unfortunately the first sign the Union receives that a member has moved is usually a returned envelope from our friends at Canada Post. Pension statements, tax receipts and refund cheques are simply too important to be floating around in the mail system.


Local 580 Bursaries

RWU Local 580 annually awards three bursaries to Local 580 members or their dependents that are planning to attend a post-secondary institution on a full-time basis. The Local 580 Executive recently made a recommendation that was passed at the June Local 580 General Meeting which resulted in some positive changes to the bursaries.

The Stan Colbert Bursary is named in honour of the late Stan Colbert, a former Retail Wholesale Union Business Agent. Previously the bursary was for $500 and awarded to a first year student on the basis of financial need and the assumption that the potential candidate had a satisfactory academic standing. Satisfactory is defined as normally an overall average of at least 65% in Grade XII.

The two other bursaries were one for $500 and one for $250 and awarded based on the same criteria as the Stan Colbert Bursary.

The recent changes to the bursaries have raised the amounts of all three to $1250. The feeling was that this amount was more in line with the actual costs of attending a post-secondary institution. Eligibility for the awards was also changed so that students who are currently attending a post-secondary institution are also eligible rather than just first year students.

Students interested in these bursaries can apply to the UBC Awards Office. You do not have to attend UBC but that is where the award decisions are made.