Our Rights Under the Law

excerpted from the Steward’s Handbook

Depending on where they work, Alliance members may be covered under one of a number of different labour laws. Members who work in federal government departments with Treasury board as the employer are covered by the Public Service Staff Relations Act (PSSRA). Alliance members who work in Crown Corporations, e.g. Canada Post Corporation and former Crown Corporations e.g. Nordion International LTD fall under the Canada Labour Code (CLC). Still other Alliance members work in employment situations that come under the jurisdiction of provincial labour legislation. Alliance members who work for the Yukon and Northwest territories governments are covered by Territorial Acts.

Despite the different labours that apply to Alliance members, the same basic rights are recognized and protected in each piece of legislation.

Sometimes union members and officers are deterred from exercising their union rights, fearing that management may retaliate. However, the law protects union members by prohibiting “unfair labour practices” on the part of management. Specifically, no person can use intimidation or threats to get you to give up your union rights under the law; managers cannot discriminate against you in your job or interfere with the formation or administration of the union; and they cannot interfere with the union representing the members.

Examples of intimidation and threats are complaints that you file too many grievances; noting in your personal evaluation that your job performance is affected by your union involvement or threatening discipline if you continue to be involved in the union.

A pattern of discrimination becomes obvious in the following kinds of actions:

Unequal Treatment: assigning you more than your fair share of “unpopular” work”; taking away the more interesting parts of your job; hassling you about the time you take for lunch while continuing to be flexible about other people’s lunch breaks.

Unfair Treatment: suddenly giving you too much work; suddenly giving you too little work; deciding that your job performance is no longer satisfactory even though it hasn’t changed.

It’s important that you furnish enough evidence to build a sound case.

  • Keep a record of all the remarks and incidents that you think were intended to intimidate you

  • Note the dates and times when these remarks were made and incidents took place.

  • Find witnesses who overheard the remarks or were present during the occurrence.

  • Keep copies of damaging letters, memos etc.

  • Communicate your concerns to people you can trust (like other local officers) early on in the time period.

  • Consult with your Component Service Officer or PSAC Regional Representative who will advise you how to proceed if need be. Component and PSAC Regional Offices will also provide you with the appropriate forms if such are available.

  • Take union education courses where you will learn more about union legal rights and the procedures to follow when those rights are threatened or contravened.