I am experiencing a difficult situation with a union
Maybe you’re experiencing a difficult situation with your union, another union, a union representative or a job-site steward. For example:
- You learn that a union pressured an employer not to hire you because of your union membership.
- A union representative comes to see you to pressure you to join his union. He tells you that they know where you live and you will have problems if you don’t make the “right” choice.
- Your union doesn’t refer you even when you’re available, because you are “too old”.
This kind of conduct has no place on a job site or anywhere else in your work environment.
The law protects you
You have the right to be a member of the union of your choice and to participate in its activities. You can also change unions during the union elections period (recruiting or raiding period).
Neither a union, a union representative or a job-site steward has the right to intimidate you, to discriminate against you, to you threaten you or to act violently toward you
A union cannot refuse to refer you for discriminatory or arbitrary reasons.
Your union must represent you properly.
A union treats me unfairly because I am a member of another union organization
Neither a union, a union representative or a job-site steward has the right to intimidate you or discriminate against you because you are a member of another union.
They cannot say or do things that isolate you and hinder you because of the union you belong to. If they act in that way, you are a victim of intimidation.
For example, a union cannot insult you, pressure you or vandalize your equipment because you’re a member of a particular union.
They cannot limit your rights or chances of obtaining a job because you are a member of another union. If they do, they are discriminating against you.
For example, a union doesn’t have the right to pressure an employer not to hire you because of your union membership.
What to do in case of intimidation or discrimination by a union?
If you believe that you are the victim of intimidation or discrimination because of your union membership, you can file a complaint with one of the following organizations or with both:
A union threatens me or is violent toward me
The behaviour of a union on a job site or elsewhere may be criminal. You can file a complaint with the police if you believe that you were the victim or witness of a crime.
The following are some examples of acts that are criminal in nature.
Threatening to kill or hurt someone or to damage their property is forbidden under the Criminal Code. A person does not have to execute their threat for it to be considered a crime.
For example, a union representative threatens to hit you or wreck your equipment.
Using physical force against another person without their consent is against the law. When this occurs, it is considered an “assault”. You could be the victim of an assault even if you have suffered no physical injury.
For example, a job-site steward punches you or throws an object at you in order to hurt you or intimidate you.
Sexual assault involves any sexual activity that occurs without the consent of the person being assaulted. It could be a kiss, a caress or having sex. There doesn’t need to be physical violence or injury
For example, a union representative kisses you or touches your behind without your consent.
Criminal harassment is where a person acts in such a way as to make you fear for your safety and the person continues to do so even though they know you feel harassed.
For example, your job-site steward follows you everywhere you go or sends you messages several times a day despite the fact that you have told the person to stop.
My union does not refer me
Your union must treat all its members the same when it comes to referrals. It cannot act in a discriminatory or arbitrary manner toward its members.
Your union is discriminating against you if it doesn’t refer you for the following reasons:
- Social condition
- Political beliefs
- Civil status
- Handicap or method used to cope with a handicap
- Gender identity or gender expression
- Sexual orientation
- Race, colour and ethnic or national origin
See the website of the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) for a definition of each of the motives for discrimination.
Your union cannot, for example, refuse to refer you because you’re a woman or because you have children.
Your union must have a valid reason for not referring you. It cannot do so arbitrarily. For example, your union cannot refuse to refer you because, in the past, you opposed one of it demands.
What to do if my union does not refer me?
If you believe that your union is discriminating against you or acting in an arbitrary manner toward you, you can denounce the situation. You can file a complaint with either of these organizations or both:
My union is not properly representing me
Your union must represent you properly. It cannot act in bad faith, act arbitrarily or discriminate against you, or commit gross negligence in your regard.
Maybe you have the impression that your union is not doing its job properly. For example, you learn that your union forgot to send your grievance to your employer within the time limit stipulated in the collective agreement.
What to do if my union is not representing me properly?
You can file a complaint with the Tribunal administratif du travail (TAT) if you believe that your union is not properly representing you.
Warning! Just being in disagreement with your union is not sufficient grounds. You must be able to prove that your union has acted improperly.
See the TAT website for more information on the complaints process.
Guidance service (discrimination, intimidation, and harassment) – People from diverse communities
To support the inclusion of people from underrepresented groups – women, people with handicaps, immigrants, visible minorities, First Nations people, and Inuit – the CCQ offers a dedicated and confidential guidance service towards resources for people who have witnessed or suffered discrimination, intimidation, and harassment against diversity, for the benefit of all, in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
Call 1 833 333-8003