With the guidance of an organizer, we will sign Steelworkers membership cards. The employer never sees these cards. When at least 40% of the workers have signed cards, the union can apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board for a vote. The Labour Relations Board is the neutral government body that oversees the Ontario laws that protect workers' rights to join the union.
A vote is usually held in your workplace one week after the union applies. It is a secret ballot vote, conducted and supervised by the Labour Relations Board. A secret ballot vote is like in a Provicial or Federal election, all ballots are confidential. You never have to tell management how you voted. No one from Management can ever find out. When a majority vote for the union, the Labour Board will certify the USW as your legal bargaining agent and representative.
Important: Once we have applied for certification all wages, benefits, bonus, or any existing practices cannot be changed or removed by management without our consent.
Section 86 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) deals with workers’ rights and benefits and what occurs to those rights and benefits once a union has applied for certification. This section commonly known as “the freeze provision” ensures and guarantees that worker’s rights and benefits cannot be altered by an employer without the unions and the workers consent.
Section 86 reads in part:
“Once a union has applied for certification and the employer receives notice from the Labour Relations Board, except with the consent of the union, alter terms or conditions of employment, or any right, privilege or duty of the employer.”
The Labour Relations Board describes terms and conditions as any wages, benefits, privileges, past practices, holiday bonus, vacation bonus or anything else that a group of employees might receive from an employer as part of their compensation.
Section 86 ensures that:
When workers join a union, they maintain everything that they currently have, When workers join a union and bargain with their employer, they do not bargain from scratch but rather from where they currently are.
"Employers cannot take anything away because his/her employees were exercising their rights under the Labour Relations Act"
The big advantage of the freeze period is that it gives workers their current conditions as a starting point for collective bargaining. Any further changes would then be subject to the approval of the affected workforce.
In other words only the affected workers would get the final say in determining their future.