Union supporters often pursue co-workers aggressively when card signing events begin, but they don’t accomplish this via confrontation. Instead, these roots are often found in subtle approaches, like one-on-one lunch room discussions and crafty invitations that place a worker in a position to hear more. Savvy Canadian employers educate employees on the impact of signing a union card in Canada, which can lead to failure of these subtle approaches.
Blindsided by the Conversation
Consider this scenario: Alisha receives an invitation from her friend Bonnie, an acquaintance she has not seen in a while because they work at different plants. Bonnie invites Alisha to dinner to “catch up.” Alisha is pleased, having found it a challenge to find time to get together.
They spend considerable time chit-chatting at the restaurant. Eventually, the conversation turns to work. “How is your job going?” Bonnie asks. Alisha says she doesn’t like her schedule because it causes child-care problems. Bonnie grasps the small seed of discontent and tries to plant it. She says, “It’s wrong to treat you like this,” adding, “You should sign a union card.”
This is the real reason Bonnie has contacted Alisha — to convince her to sign a union card on the spot.
There are two possible responses. Alisha could say, “Maybe joining a union is a good idea because my child-care expenses are eating up my raise.” However, if Alisha’s employer has educated the workforce on the full impact of signing a union card, she is more likely to say, “Unionizing could make things worse if my employer sets a more rigid schedule to meet union demands. I’ll talk to my supervisor and ask for a schedule change, rather than sign a union card and end up paying union dues, too.” She feels certain her supervisor will try to accommodate her child-care requests if she takes time to discuss the issue.
If Alisha understands the full implications of unionization and believes her employer is fair, she is unlikely to support unionization. Employees should ask themselves key questions before signing a union card, such as, “Is the best solution to my problem found with my employer or the union?”
Tipping the Scales
At some point, most Canadian employees must balance the impact of unionization against the advantages of remaining union-free. During card signing, the employer wants to tip the employee scales towards non-unionization through workforce education about Canadian labour law. Employees need to understand fully the implications of signing a union card. That’s why the #1 selling video on card signing, “Little Card, Big Trouble” is vital for Canadian employers.