Young Workers Blog: Why more young workers should join a union

Unionization is about fairness. It is about taking control of your working conditions and being an active participant in shaping them. As a young union activist, I have witnessed some of the terrible working conditions – the precarity, the abuse, the lack of recourse – that many Canadians face every day. But I have also witnessed the power that workers gain when they decide to unionize. When workers mobilize in their workplace, they realize that they deserve better and that, together, they are stronger. They also come to see that without their labour, there is no profit to be made for the company.

Unionized workers are not afraid. They know their rights, they are aware that they cannot be dismissed without just cause, and that their voice is important. As a result, they are not alienated from their jobs. They enjoy a high degree of equality in the workplace.

With a union, you have a legally-binding collective agreement to secure your rights and provide safe working conditions. A union contract also ensures that there is just cause for dismissal, that your working conditions are renegotiated regularly, and that everyone is equally represented. Everyone deserves respect, and a union makes sure that as a worker, there will be a system in place for you to be treated with dignity by your employer.

We, the new generation of young workers currently entering the labour market, are facing job instability and precarity like no other generation before us. We are often led to believe that existing labour laws are there to protect us as workers and as citizens. But the reality is that unless we stand together and demand that our rights be respected, we will get nothing more than the minimum standard or less.

That is why unionization and the labour movement are so important. Young workers have the power to turn the balance in our favour and improve our working conditions. Unionization is the most essential step in achieving fairness and creating a world where each of us can earn a decent living without fear of injustice or abuse. You have a voice, and that voice is powerful. Make yourself heard!

Laura Peña is a young worker and union activist based in Toronto.