Job Quality On The Decline, But Unions Offer A Way Up

As we head into 2017, a new report has found that the quality of employment in Canada is falling.

Although headlines recently have focused on the impact precarious employment is having on young people, this study shows that all age groups are affected by the quality of work in our country.

The report found that the loss in job quality has been stead over the past 10 years and the share of workers who are paid below the average wage has risen over the years to just under 61 per cent in 2015.

It also found that the gap in wages is still growing. Although the minimum wage is rising to help the poorest workers, it is the gap between middle and high-income people that is growing.

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So what exactly does a ‘low quality’ job mean?

CIBC economist Benjmin Tai explained to CBC news that it means more people are working part time, are self employed and are in low wage jobs.

He pointed out that jobs with above average pay will continue to have a good wage, that is not where new jobs are being created.

And this affects people of all ages.

Tai found that young people and Canadians over 55 are stuck in the low-wage job sector. Even among workers aged 25 to 54, over half had jobs that paid between 50 and 100 per cent of the average wage.

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Being a union member greatly increases the quality of your job in a number of ways including wage, benefits and safety.

Union members earn more across the board with members on average earning $5.28 more per hour. It also helps with gender parity with women earning 35 per cent more when they are with a union. You workers earn 27 per cent more.

A collective agreement makes sure you have job security, fair hours and benefits. Being a member improves your quality of life both inside and outside of the workplace.

 


What is Fairness in the Workplace?

Fairness shouldn’t be just something you hope for in the workplace. Fairness should be a standard, a staple for survival like food, clothing or shelter.

Not only can fairness at work be a rare commodity in some spaces, but studies have shown employees who perceive workplaces as unfair are more likely to leave jobs -- jobs they can’t afford to leave.

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Fairness in the workplace is not as black and white as you might think. Being underpaid or yelled at by your boss daily are more obvious examples of abuse at work, but the struggle for employee justice goes much deeper.

What factors contribute to fairness in the workplace?

Recent studies have found that poor treatment in the workplace, or “workplaces perceived to be less fair,” are corrosive to work environments and employee morale.

Things that factor into employee perception of fairness on the job:

  • Opportunities for career development
  • Work environment
  • Conflicts with management
  • Lack of challenging work
  • Lack of recognition
  • Proper direction of company/organization

How can being part of a union help?

Research evidence reports workers feel healthier, and contribute a higher level of energy and effort on the job when workplaces are perceived to be fair.

With the economy in Alberta (even more so with the current wildfire disaster in Fort McMurray), it’s increasingly important that workers are respected and treated justly in all arenas of work.

Teamsters 362 fights for fair workplace laws and standards. We collectively bargain on your behalf for what should be non-negotiable rights -- safe working conditions, fair wages, job security...the list goes on. And with high career and environmental stresses weighing heavy on Albertans, Local 362 is putting more focus than ever on mental health supports for employees.

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If you want to have happy and healthy employees -- if you want to be a happy and healthy employee -- workplaces need to be fair. We all need to fight for fair.

To see what Teamsters 362 is all about, visit: teamsters362.com


How to Prepare Yourself in the Face of Job Loss

With 2015 the worst year for job loss in Alberta since 1982, job security is still a fear for many Albertans.

Even if you know it’s coming, no one is ever fully prepared for that awful moment when the big boss calls you into the office and gives you the, “Thank you for your service” speech. Sometimes the speech is skipped altogether.

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But there are plans workers can put in place when termination seems imminent. Here are some strategies to protect workers in the case of looming job loss:

1.     Have a resume ready

The first thing most people who are laid off are tasked with doing is finding a new job, which is no easy feat — especially in today’s economic climate. Even if you currently have a steady job, it doesn’t hurt to iron out your resume.

Resumes should be polished, up-to-date and include your current job and references. The Alberta government offers resume review services  and most municipalities offer local services as well.

2.     Legal rights

In the case of job loss, many employers will offer settlements or severance packages. Even though they might look fair, or even more than expected, it is still your right as a worker to investigate your worth.

Contacting a lawyer or accessing social service supports such as Alberta Works can give you a better sense of what you are entitled to as a worker and if you should take the settlement offered to you. Doing research beforehand can avoid last minute scrambles for legal aid in the case of job loss.

3.     Weighing your options

Especially if you work in the oil and gas industry, there is a possibility you may have to look down other avenues if cutbacks are pending. Even though you may have been hired for one gig, chances are you have skills for many other jobs.

The Alberta government has all sorts of career planning resources easily accessible online. In this economic climate, it never hurts to have a plan B.

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4.     Are you protected?

Depending on where you work, being part of a labour union can be a lifesaver when facing job loss. Whether you’re supporting a family or starting out your career alone, getting laid off is not something any one wants to deal with alone.

Having a union to back you up when facing cut backs or job loss is so important. It is also a great place to start when understanding you rights as a worker and how collective bargaining can protect you. Being part of a union can also protect your seniority and qualification for all classifications in the workplace.