All for one and one for all is a catchphrase literary. Movie buffs might recognize the phrase from the Three Musketeers lore, and the Swiss as the unofficial motto of their country. But it also accurately describes the value of collective bargaining in securing fair wages and benefits for workers, and how unions work in Canada.
The right to collective bargaining and unionization was won following decades of struggle, stretching as far back to 1872 and the fight for a shorter work week. Back then, workers put in ten hours a day, seven days a week.
The Toronto Typographical Union demanded a nine-hour workday, a position the city’s publishers refused to consider. The printers walked off the job and employers subsequently brought in replacement workers. However, the public supported the striking workers and the government of the day brought in the Trade Union Act on April 18, 1872, finally legalizing and protecting unions.
The power of collective action in securing better working conditions has been demonstrated time and time again. That strike led to our annual Labour Day celebrations, held every year since.
Collective bargaining refers to the process of unions negotiating, on behalf of members, with employers for a new collective agreement. Following a notice-to-bargain communication, unions and employers are required to negotiate in good faith towards an agreement. The right to strike is there if negotiations break down.
Collective agreements establish the working conditions for workers, such as wages, working hours, health and safety, and overtime. Negotiating better working conditions for members ends up benefiting society as a whole. Since the 19th century, unions have been making a positive impact in Canada.
In essence, collective bargaining brings the strength of workers together in a single voice to advance their wage and benefit interests, including working hours, safe and healthy workplaces, overtime, grievance resolution, paid holiday and parental leave, and health and safety committees. The Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights says the unions help promote economic equality.
Even organizations like the World Bank sees unions as being good for the economy. In its 2003 report, Unions and Collective Bargaining Economic Effects in a Global Environment, the bank revealed that high rates of unionization produced better levels of equality of earnings, lower unemployment and inflation, and speedier adjustments to economic shocks.
Learn More About How Unions Work in Canada
The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) represents a variety of skilled trades, including professional painters, drywall finishers, glaziers/glass and metal technicians, EIFS/stucco workers, hazardous materials workers, and sign writers. Through the power of collective bargaining, we strive to improve working conditions for members and their families. Contact us today for more information on how unions work in Canada.