Workplace Happy Place
/ Author: Melanie St Andrews
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Workplace Happy Place

Labour laws are continually being updated and improved to protect workers’ rights. Which begs the question, do we still need unions?

By Melanie St. Andrews, CLAC Representative

At a recent family dinner, the topic of union relevance for today’s workplace surfaced. My daughter is enrolled in a human resources program at university, and she was preparing to write a paper on the subject. She said that her class was learning that unions, although necessary in the past, may not be necessary in the future.

As we debated this assumption, I explained that CLAC is a different type of union—one that is especially relevant today. CLAC exists not just to make sure that minimum employment standards are enforced or that our members enjoy good wages, benefits, and retirement savings, and all the other benefits that come with union representation. We seek to foster positive workplace communities so that our members can work in a safe environment where differences are worked through together, cooperatively.

Standards and regulations can only go so far. Collective agreements cannot cover every aspect of work. They cannot create a happy workplace.

Many traditional unions believe that an adversarial model of labour relations is the best approach to get workers what they want. They believe that the interests of employers and employees will always be in conflict and that the role of the union is to fight.

CLAC takes a different approach. We promote a partnership model between employer and employees, where employees know the value of the role they play and are rewarded for their contribution. We focus on the whole person, ensuring that dignity and respect are valued and adhered to as equally as the law.

Will unions still be necessary in the future? As long as there are workplaces, unions that strive to create positive workplace communities will always be relevant.

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