The Benefits of Unionization for Dental Assistants
We all deserve to be treated with dignity at work and to be fairly compensated for our skills and qualifications. After investing considerable time and money in training and accreditation, Dental Assistants are right to expect a working environment that is safe, professional and fosters secure careers. Unfortunately, all too often many dental practices are plagued by inadequate pay and benefits, unsafe conditions and broken equipment, and a lack of respect for the hard work and dedication of Dental Assistants.
During the past two years, Dental Assistants in Ontario have been joining a union to improve their working conditions. Unionization is the only way to ensure an employer is legally obligated to implement the improvements that employees want. Union members engage in the process of collective bargaining: they elect their negotiating committee, vote on their collective agreement, and elect their workplace representatives.
BENEFITS OF A UNION COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT
Paid sick days and personal days
Regular wage increases for all employees
Better health benefits for you and your family
Fair and consistent scheduling and overtime pay
Legal representation at the labour board and WSIB
Job security and recognition of service and experience
Grievance procedure to ensure fair treatment, dignity and respect
Personal leaves of absence for career and educational opportunities
On-line courses and post-secondary scholarships for you and your family
Protection from unfair discipline, termination or alteration of working conditions
A collective agreement is the only legally binding document in Ontario that governs working conditions, including pay, benefits, hours of work, and health and safety. If your workplace is not unionized, your working conditions can be altered by the employer at any time – whether or not you have an individual contract with the dentist. Another key difference between union and non-union workplaces is Just Cause Protection. Under the Ontario Labour Relations Act, only union members have Just Cause Protection – meaning the employer cannot discipline or terminate an employee without first demonstrating a fair and valid reason. A union collective agreement also ensures that management – the dentist – must treat all employees with dignity and respect.
YOU ARE THE UNION
UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers) is the leading union for health care professionals in the private sector, with more than a quarter million members across the country. In addition to Dental Assistants, UFCW Canada members include registered nurses, personal support workers and physiotherapists. In fact, the HOPE sector (Health Care, Office and Professional Employees) of UFCW Canada in Ontario is the fastest growing sector of the union.
UFCW Canada is a not-for-profit organization. This means that all union dues collected from members are re-invested in servicing the needs of the members themselves. It is also the reason that union dues are 100% tax deductible. Newly organized union members only pay dues after they have voted on their first collective agreement – with the pay increases they want. Every year, our more than 250,000 members across Canada ratify collective agreements with pay increases, health benefits and job protections that far outweigh the dues they pay to sustain and strengthen their union.
DENTAL ASSISTANTS ARE MAKING HISTORY!
Last year, Dental Assistants at Credit Valley Oral Surgery in Mississauga, Milton, Oakville and Burlington joined UFCW Canada Local 175. This year, more than 60 employees at Square One Dental and Meadowvale Dental in Mississauga also joined Local 175. The unionized employees at these six locations include Dental Assistants, Hygienists, Nurses and Treatment Coordinators. These employees contacted the union to achieve better pay and benefits, job security, safe working conditions, consistent scheduling, and more paid sick days.
The process of unionization in Ontario involves signing confidential union cards and a secret ballot vote conducted by the Labour Board. Everyone has the legal right to join and participate in the union and employers are prohibited from interfering with this right. It is against the law for any employer to discipline, terminate or treat anyone unfairly because they support unionization. UFCW Canada has the duty and obligation to uphold and protect your rights. With more than a quarter million members, our union has the power and experience to help you successfully unionize and negotiate the collective agreement you want, no matter how big or small your dental office is.
UFCW Canada and the ODAA (Ontario Dental Assistants Association) share common values in advancing the interests of Dental Assistants in Ontario. The mission of both organizations is to improve working conditions, build secure careers, and achieve fair and equitable treatment for all Dental Assistants. We believe in creating professional environments where Dental Assistants are recognized for the essential role they play in providing the very best in oral care. The union and your association also take steps to ensure that continuing training and education is accessible to ODAA members.
The process of unionization begins by simply meeting with a UFCW Canada organizer. Currently, National Representative Kevin Shimmin, an organizer for UFCW Canada, is making presentations at ODAA membership meetings across the province. The association is making these presentations available to members so that you can learn more about the benefits of unionization and to share your own workplace experiences. To find out more about the union for Dental Assistants, please contact Kevin: [email protected]