Ontario Labour Rights

A worker’s choice to join a union is protected by law; an employer must respect employees’ right to organize in the workplace. The Ontario Labour Relations Act (the Act) is the provincial law that protects workers. The Ontario Labour Relations Board – the body that governs relations between employers and unions – ensures that workers’ rights are not violated if they choose to join a union.

Section 5 of the Act gives workers the freedom to participate with the union; it states:

Every person is free to join a trade union of the person’s own choice and participate in its legal activities.

The Act and the Ontario Labour Relations Board allows you to:

  • Read, distribute, and discuss union literature in non-work areas during lunch and other breaks
  • Talk with co-workers about the union and attend union meetings
  • Sign a card to join or support the union
  • Sign petitions related to wages, hours, working conditions, and other job issues

The law in Ontario protects your right to encourage your co-workers to support the union or to sign union cards or petitions. Section 70 of The Act protects your right to join the union free of employer interference, it states:

No employer or employers’ organization and no person acting on behalf of an employer or an employers’ organization shall participate in or interfere with the formation, selection or administration of a trade union or the representation of employees by a trade union or contribute financial or other support to a trade union, but nothing in this section shall be deemed to deprive an employer of the employer’s freedom to express views so long as the employer does not use coercion, intimidation, threats, promises or undue influence.

It is illegal for your employer to:

  • Threaten or to fire, layoff, discipline, harass or reassign workers because they support the union
  • Favour workers who don’t support the union over those who do in promotions, job assignments, wages, hours, discipline or any other working condition
  • Discourage union activity by shutting down a worksite or taking away other benefits or privileges for anti-union reasons
  • Promise wage hikes, promotions, benefits, or special favours in exchange for opposition to the union.

If you have any questions, please contact our office in your area.

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