Once a month, North Okanagan Labour Council President David Doran writes a column about labour issues in Kelowna's Capital News newspaper. Here's his column for October, 2002:
If all employers treated their employees in a fair and equitable manner there would be no need for unions. History has shown this is not the case.
Joining an employee association or a legitimate labour union are decisions working people have to make in today's anti-worker environment.
Employee associations are generally under the control of the employer. There is no contract and company policy is the dictum. The goal posts can move at management's discretion.
Management determines the grievance procedure outcome. When there is no contract how can a grievance be determined? Concerns of employee's may be looked into! There are no formal steps to bring these concerns to fruition.
Pay scales can differ for the same job based on sex, age or any other reason the employer deems appropriate.
Seniority can also in jeopardy in an employee association.
In a union environment a contract is in place. The guidelines are clear to both sides of the bargaining table. If there is a dispute over contract language, rates of pay or the grievance procedure the funding is available to carry these disputes to a third party for resolution.
Employee associations only deal with bargaining and the grievance procedure. Unfortunately the open door policy of many employers is "If you don't like it leave."
Unions provide counselling for substance abuse victims, labour education with respect to rights in the workplace and changes to the labour standards.
Through Labour Councils it gives workers the opportunity to discuss other workplaces and issues in their communities. There are awareness campaigns such as "cancer in the workplace." There is a formal relationship with the United Way.
The benefits of being a union member far outweigh those of an employee in employee association.