Occasionally the CFPA has difficulty with the perception by some managers and members that involvement with the union is a bad thing that should be avoided. This prejudicial attitude is not consistent with Canadian law and it reflects a lack of recognition of the positive and constructive role that union representatives can play with enlightened and progressive employers. It also indicates a lack of appreciation for the support and assistance provided to many employees in difficult situations.

The CFPA is committed to taking a positive and interested-based approach. When other parties choose not to reciprocate, CFPA representatives are required to continue to represent members using other, less preferred, strategies. In an enlightened and positive work environment (unionized and non-unionized), the employer views employee representatives, as an effective tool to assist them in addressing issues and facilitating a harmonious and respectful work environment.

Environments where unions are viewed as a bad thing are often the result of an employer that is not interested in addressing employee issues. Sometimes, they are the result of a union adopting an unnecessarily adversarial approach or losing sight of the fact that they exist to serve the needs of their members. Unions are democratic organizations and becoming involved with your union and its activities is the best way to insure that it continues to serve the interests of you and your fellow members.

Union representatives, individual members, and the employer’s managers do not operate in a vacuum with complete freedom to do as they see fit. There are legal requirements that all parties are required to comply with. Except for a legally authorized strike, it is against the law for a union or its members to interfere with the employer’s business or production output. It is also against the law, at any time, for managers or representatives of an employer to interfere with union representatives trying to represent member issues, or to interfere with the relationship or business between the union and its members. It is also against the law for the union, its members or managers to deviate from the provisions of a collective agreement. The law provides for a process to bring about changes or authorized exceptions to collective agreements, but unilateral actions by any party, outside of that process, are specifically barred.

In 2007 there was a decision (2007 PSLRB 92) issued by the Public Service Labour Relations Board on a case filed by the CFPA in relation to a management initiative to prevent and restrict the representation of CFPA members in a Transport Canada workplace. The CFPA grieved the disciplinary actions of Transport Canada taken against elected representatives who were executing their obligation to discuss and represent the interests of CFPA members. The grievance was upheld. The rights of members and the obligation to represent members were reinforced by the decision. We encourage you to read the decision.

The rights of all Canadian employees to association and representation are fundamentally enshrined in our laws. It is not something to be spurned or embarrassed about; it is something to proud of and respected as one of the beneficial components of Canadian society. So get involved and help make your representation the positive and constructive influence that you want it to be.