Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find a list of common questions related to being a member of UFCW Locals 175 & 633, your collective agreement, benefits, and more. If you can’t find the answer to your question, please reach out to your Union Rep using our Find Your Rep search or send us an email at

Find Your Question

Job Security

I do not feel secure in my job, even though I am a good worker. I worry a lot about being fired or laid off.

Job security is the number one concern for most workers and UFCW Locals 175 & 633 is a leader when it comes to winning job security. With a contract negotiated by UFCW Locals 175 & 633 on your side, you cannot be fired or disciplined without just cause. If you are fired without just cause, the union will take your case through the grievance and/or arbitratoin process. There is NO cost to you for this. All representation services are already covered by your union dues including legal fees and much more.

How do unions increase job security?

Job security is established in a number of ways in your UFCW Locals 175 & 633 collective agreement. With a unionized job, you have a dispute resolution procedure called the Grievance and Arbitration Process in place to legally protect yourself against unfair discipline or dismissal. A collective agreement may also contain negotiated language guaranteeing the employer will maintain a certain number of jobs. Other agreement language might ensure promotions are filled by seniority instead of being filled based on who is the employer’s favourite. Reach out to our Organizing Team if you have questions about how UFCW Locals 175 & 633 could improve job security at your workplace.

What are my rights as a Union worker?

As a Union member of UFCW Locals 175 & 633, you have the right to:

– Have a Union Steward present at any discipline meeting with your employer. Learn more about the role of the Union Steward here.
– Just Cause protection, which means you cannot be fired without a justifiable reason
– File a grievance (formal complaint) if the employer violates a part of your collective agreement.
– Have input on bargaining for your collective agreement.
– Vote on your contracts and Union bylaws and policies, and participate in Union meetings.
– Benefit from the provisions of your collective agreement and know the Union will hold your employer accountable.

Union Benefits

My employer offers no health care benefits.

Government programs do not cover prescription drugs, eyeglasses, dental work for many people, or other health care needs. These costs can add up and quickly become unaffordable for many people, especially for families with children. UFCW Locals 175 & 633 representatives are experts at negotiating health care insurance benefits that are, in most cases, fully or mostly paid for by the employer.

Is the WSIB related to the Union?

The Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) is an independent institution that processes claims and provides compensation to workers who are made ill or injured while at work. Participating employers are required to submit regular payments to the WSIB, which then acts as a sort of insurance for workers. Injured workers must submit claims to the WSIB to be eligible to receive compensation.

You can visit the WSIB website at

If you’ve been injured or made ill through work, make sure you follow the procedure to file a claim with the WSIB and pay special attention to timelines. Your Union Rep or Steward can help you through this process.

You should file a claim if you’ve been injured or made ill at work. Many workers do not file claims and that only benefits employers. Your employer cannot tell you not to file a claim.

At UFCW Locals 175 & 633, we have dedicated workers compensation specialists to help our Union Members through the WSIB process.

If you receive a denial for your injury claim from the WSIB or if you are having trouble in a return-to-work process or with accommodation, make sure to contact our Workers Comp Reps at or 1-800-565-8329.

This service is FREE to UFCW Locals 175 & 633 members and is one of the benefits of belonging to our Union.

For more information on the WSIB process and what to expect, visit our Workers’ Compensation section.

What are my health and welfare benefits and how do I make a claim?

At UFCW Locals 175 & 633, we have Members that are covered by many separate collective agreements. Each of those agreements contains different benefits – health, vision, dental, or pension – through different plans. Some are through the employer and some are Union* plans.

*Please keep in mind the Union does not administer the plans and any claims issues must be dealt with through the Plan Administrators.

If you are not sure which plan(s) you participate in or whether you are eligible to receive benefits, please contact your Union Representative. Your Union Steward at work, or your Human Resources department may also have forms. If you know you participate in the following plans, here are some useful links.

If you’re looking for information on Workers’ Compensation benefits please click here or email

Wages, Pay Equity, & Gender Equality

The women in our workplace only get the lowest-paying jobs and there are no opportunities for advancement.

A collective agreement (union contract) with UFCW Locals 175 & 633 ensures that all members of the bargaining unit are treated equally. A union contract can establish seniority rules for promotions, higher wages for underpaid classifications, and the Union has a Pay Equity Department that can also assist with ensuring employers meet their obligations under the Pay Equity Act.

With a union contract, if the employer decides to give a promotion to their favourite employee, or pay some people a higher wage than others in the same classification, you can file a grievance/formal complaint with the Union.

Our members have access to the UFCW Locals 175 & 633 Training and Education Centre that provides a wide range of skills development courses. The UFCW Canada webCampus also provides a variety of online training opportunities free for members to take on their own time and at their own pace. Every year, over 10,000 UFCW Canada members take courses that give them a fresh advantage, on top of their seniority, when they compete for better jobs and promotions.

I am underpaid for the value I bring to my employer.

This is a common statement from workers, particularly in non-union workplaces and it has become especially common to hear it as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Union members are paid, on average, 35% more than non-union workers doing exactly the same job. UFCW Locals 175 & 633 has tough negotiators on our side who know the marketplace and what your employer should be able to afford.

Asking for good fair wages doesn’t put a company out of business. In fact, several of Canada’s largest and most profitable companies are staffed by well-paid and well-treated UFCW members. There is no conflict between paying good wages and being a successful company.

What is pay equity?

Pay equity is a fundamental human right. The purpose of Pay Equity is to redress systemic gender discrimination in compensation for work performed by employees in female job classes. Under pay equity legislation, employers are required to identify job classes, determine the gender of job classes, determine the value of work, calculate compensation, make comparisons, and develop pay equity plans.

Ontario passed its Pay Equity Act in 1987. The Federal Pay Equity Act received royal assent in 2018, and it came into effect August 31, 2021.

When must employers comply with the Pay Equity Act?

From the day a business becomes covered by the relevant Pay Equity Act, employers have three years to develop a pay equity plan. All employers subject to the Act must then update their pay equity plan every five years.

Who can participate in the pay equity committee?

Pay equity committee members are selected by the employer, the bargaining agent(s) and non-unionized employees. The committee must be composed of representatives from the employer and the employees covered by the pay equity plan.

A pay equity committee must have at least three members and meet the following requirements:

  • At least two thirds must represent the employees who are covered by the plan;
  • At least 50% of the members must be women;
  • At least one member selected by the employer to represent it;
  • Where there are unionized employees, at least one member selected by each of the bargaining agents, and;
  • At least one member selected by non-unionized employees to represent them, if any.

What is gender equality?

Gender equality is when every person, regardless of gender, has equal access to resources and opportunities. Gender equality is a fundamental human right and is vital for building and maintaining communities that can thrive, and where every person can participate in the economy and decision-making.

Gender inequality affects women, including transwomen, and gender-diverse individuals. It can also affect men, especially when their gender expression may not conform to the stereotypical man and/or cultural norms. Gender inequality can have a negative impact on children and families, and people of all ages and backgrounds.

UFCW Locals 175 & 633 believes in equity for all and strives to foster safe, equitable workplaces, and negotiate collective agreements that include equal opportunities, equal pay, and strong anti-discrimination language.

What are the benefits of gender equality?

Gender equality makes communities safer, healthier and happier. Countries with greater gender equality are more connected and benefit immensely through economic equality, improved education and better health.

Respect at Work

My boss does not treat me with respect.

Many bosses treat employees like children, or worse, and harassment is part of the daily grind in many workplaces. That’s not right. And it’s not good for business, either.

UFCW Locals 175 & 633 Union Representatives know how to handle bosses who do not give employees the respect they deserve. If you are a member of UFCW Locals 175 & 633, please reach out to your Union Representative to discuss any concerns you have at work.

If you are not a Union member, know that the very existence of a binding collective agreement will help put an end to bullying, favouritism, harassment, and many more unfair work practices. Your collective agreement establishes procedures for things like promotions, wage rates and raises, and a formal complaint procedure called the grievance and arbitration process. If you are interested in learning more about how our Union can help improve your working conditions, contact our Organizing Team at 1-800-565-8329 or

I never know what my hours of work will be from week to week.

Knowing your schedule in advance is not too much to ask for. Without knowing when you work or how many hours you will get, how can you plan your life? With a Union collective agreement, schedules and hours – even for part-time workers – are generally assigned by seniority and, except in limited circumstances, most employees know their schedules in advance.

Other provisions of a Union contract might include special consideration for hours or shift preference including for students during exam time, hours trading which may help workers accommodate emergencies, and more. If you are a member of UFCW Locals 175 & 633 with questions about your schedule and/or hours, please reach out to your Union Representative.

If you are not a Union member and want to learn more about how a Union collective agreement can improve your working conditions, including schedule and hours availability and notice, contact our Organizing Team at 1-800-565-8329 or

I get asked to work past the end of my shift and don't get paid for it.

If you work, you must be paid. And unless the contract says otherwise, overtime is voluntary in our workplaces. If your employer tries to penalize you in any way for asserting your rights, a UFCW Locals 175 & 633 representative will step in and remedy that. The law is the law. A contract is a contract.

We never get coffee breaks and when we want to eat after working four or five hours straight, the manager acts like we're taking money out of his own pocket.

Every UFCW Locals 175 & 633 contract calls for regular “rest periods” or “coffee breaks” plus guaranteed meal breaks for longer shifts. The Union discourages members from working off the clock – whether that’s through their breaks or after their shift. If your employer is violating the terms of the collective agreement by requiring employees to work through breaks or after their shift, please contact your Union Representative.

If you work in a non-union workplace, our Organizing Team can speak to you about how a Union collective agreement can improve that and many other working conditions for you and your co-workers. Reach out at 1-800-565-8329 or

What do I do if I’m not getting paid properly or on time?

Employees should always check their pay stubs to make sure they receive the correct rate of pay for the correct number of hours. If you find an error, take it to your employer immediately Often, your employer will correct the issue quickly. Your collective agreement may contain language that requires them to pay the difference or a portion of the difference within a certain time frame.

It’s important to tell your Steward or Rep when this happens as well in case it’s happening to other workers, or becoming a bigger problem. Informing your Steward means that they can track the issue for your and if it arises for anyone else.

What do I do if I’m being mistreated at work?

If you’re a Member of UFCW Locals 175 & 633, then you should contact your Union Steward(s) or you can go directly to your Union Representative at the Union office. You can find office contact info here, call the Union’s Head Office at 1-800-565-8329, or send an email to

If you’re a non-Union worker, contact the UFCW Locals 175 & 633 Organizing Team at 1-800-565-8329 or to connect with one of our Organizers who can help you determine how having a Union can improve your working conditions.

Health & Safety

There are a lot of safety hazards in our workplace. People have been hurt and management doesn't seem to care.

UFCW Locals 175 & 633 has a well-deserved reputation for its strong commitment to workplace health and safety. Our Union has helped make countless workplaces safer for our members. We train our Union members on health and safety issues, help build and support workplace Joint Health & Safety Committees, and call in government inspectors when necessary. If a member’s health or safety is at risk, we’re there. Nothing is more important.

What is the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)?

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) has been the backbone of health and safety regulations in Ontario workplaces since 1979 (updated in 1990). Enforced by the Ministry of Labour, the OHSA’s overarching role is to ensure workers are protected from workplace hazards.

The OHSA is a legal framework for employers to establish internal procedures for preventing and handling workplace hazards—including everything from hazardous materials to workplace sexual harassment. This ensures that employers maintain healthy and safe workplaces for all employees in Ontario while also ensuring workers understand their rights when it comes to workplace hazards.

Who does the OHSA apply to?

The OHSA applies to almost all workers (including contractors, subcontractors, and anyone else performing work or providing a service in exchange for compensation) and workplaces. This includes the majority of small to medium-sized businesses.

A worker is defined as: “A person who performs work or supplies services for monetary compensation.”

The OHSA defines a workplace as “any land, premises, location or thing at, upon, in or near which a worker works.”

An employer is defined as, “a person who employs or contracts for the services of one or more workers.”

There are a number of occupations the OHSA does not apply to; however, the Act covers most workplaces. Self-employed persons who contract out work or services may also be subject to OHSA.

What are my employer's duties under the OHSA?

Employers are responsible for:

  • Taking all possible and reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of all workers.
  • Ensuring that equipment, materials, and protective equipment are maintained and in good condition.
  • Providing information, instruction, and supervision to protect workers and ensure their health and safety well-being.
  • Co-operating with health and safety representatives and Joint Health and Safety Committees.
  • Posting a copy of the OHSA in the workplace, as well as explanatory material prepared by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development on the rights, responsibilities, and duties of workers in English and in the language majorly spoken in the workplace.
  • Preparing and implementing a written occupational health and safety policy if they employ more than five workers, and reviewing that policy at least once a year.

Do workers have the right to know about unsafe and unhealthy work?

Workers have the right to know about any potential hazards to which they may be exposed. Specifically, employers must provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker [s. 25(2)(a), the Act]. They must also acquaint a worker or a person in authority over a worker with any hazard in the work and in the handling, storage, use, disposal and transport of any article, device, equipment, or a biological, chemical or physical hazard [s. 25(2)(d), the Act]. The best way to provide information and instruction about workplace hazards is through health and safety training. 

Employers must also provide workers with specific use, storage and handling information about chemical and biological agents (O. Reg. 860, WHMIS Regulation). This must include the labeling of hazardous products and ensuring safety data sheets (SDSs) for each product are readily available to workers

Do workers have the right to participate in workplace health and safety?

Workers have the right and duty to participate by reporting hazards, missing or defective equipment, and any other contravention of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (the Act) or regulations to a supervisor/employer [s. 28, the Act).

Workers can also ensure participation by exercising their right to select their representative(s) on the joint health and safety committee or a worker health and safety representative [s. 9(8) and s. 8(5), the Act]. They can then work with these representatives by recommending ways to eliminate or control exposure to hazards. Workers can get even more involved by seeking to represent other workers on JHSCs or as a worker representative. 

Do workers have the right to refuse unsafe and unhealthy work?

All workers have the right to refuse work they believe is likely to endanger their immediate or long-term health or that of another worker. However, some workers have legal restrictions on this right (see below). It is essential for workers and other workplace parties to follow the work refusal steps outlined in Section 43 of the Act.

Can employers punish workers for refusing unsafe or unhealthy work, or reporting hazards, concerns, or injuries?

It is against the law for an employer or person acting on behalf of an employer to intimidate, threaten, or discipline a worker who has acted in compliance with the Occupational Health & Safety Act or regulations, sought the enforcement of the Act or regulations, or given evidence in a proceeding in respect of the enforcement of the Act or regulations or a Coroner’s inquest [s. 50, the Act].

Who should a Member contact if an employer punishes them for voicing health and safety concerns, refusing unsafe or unhealthy work or using any of their other rights?

Members of UFCW Locals 175 & 633 should immediately contact their workplace steward, joint health & safety representative in their workplace, or Union Representative by calling 1-800-565-8329 or by clicking the link here.  Non-Union workers should contact the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB).

Do workers have legal duties and responsibilities for workplace health and safety?

Like employers and supervisors, workers must also comply with the Act and regulations. The Act also outlines some specific duties (s. 28, the Act). Examples include:

  • Reporting to the employer or supervisor any contravention of the Act or regulations,
  • Reporting to the employer or supervisor any known hazard,
  • Reporting to the employer or supervisor any known missing or defective equipment or protective device that may be hazardous,
  • Using or wearing any equipment, protective devices or clothing required,
  • Not removing or making ineffective any protective device without providing an adequate temporary device and ultimately replacing the protective device,
  • Not using or operating any equipment, machine, device or thing, or work in a manner that may endanger any worker, and
  • Not engaging in any prank, contest, feat of strength, unnecessary running or rough and boisterous conduct

NOTE: Workers will need to be provided with information, instruction or training in order to perform these duties. Contact your Union Representative for more information.

What should a worker do if they are injured or become ill at work?

A worker who is injured or becomes ill at work or as a result of work should:

  • Seek first aid or other medical attention,
  • Report the injury/illness to a supervisor/employer, and
  • Report the injury/illness to a worker member of the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative and their union (if represented by one).
  • Report the injury/illness to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) by submitting a Form 6.

Members of UFCW Locals 175 & 633 can contact their Union Representative for information and assistance in filling out the necessary forms.

The employer must complete a Form 7 – an Employer’s Report of Injury/Disease – and submit to the WSIB within three calendar days after learning of the worker’s injury or illness (as required by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act), if the injury or illness causes the worker to:

  • Need more than just first aid and/or be absent from regular work;
  • Earn less than regular pay for regular work;
  • Require modified work at less than regular pay, and/or;
  • Require modified work at regular pay for more than seven (7) calendar days.

The employer must give the worker a copy of the Form 7 once it is completed.

If you are unsure whether the WSIB has been notified, workers can call 1-800-387-0750 or (416) 344-1000 and ask for assistance. The WSIB can tell a worker if the accident/illness was reported and if not, they can help establish a claim.

Workers have six months from the date of the injury or illness to file a claim. Workers have six months from the time they learn of a work-related disease to file a claim (unless the worker can show “exceptional circumstances”). Visit our Workers’ Compensation section for more information.

What is a workplace health and safety hazard?

A workplace hazard is anything that can potentially cause harm to a person. Workplace hazards are generally grouped by category including:

  • Safety (i.e., trips, falls from height, violence),
  • Chemical (i.e., irritants, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors),
  • Biological (i.e., mould, bacteria, viral),
  • Work design (i.e., repetition, force and awkward posture),
  • Physical (i.e., heat, electromagnetic fields, noise),
  • Psychosocial (i.e., role conflict, threat of violence, work-life imbalance), and
  • Confined space hazards.

How & Why to Join a Union

What is the purpose of a union?

A labour union is a group of two or more employees who join together to advance common interests such as wages, benefits, schedules and other employment terms and conditions.

Who benefits from a union?

Unions help many kinds of workers and the benefits can vary depending on someone’s workplace and the issues they face. For groups of marginalized workers, Unions can help reduce and eliminate wage gaps while building strong language to prevent discrimination and harassment and ensure equitable promotions, and more. Overall, Union members have better job safety protections, better wages, and better paid leave than non-union workers. Most of all, Unionized workers have a collective voice that is stronger than one workers standing alone, and they have their Union to back them up making them more secure in exercising their rights in the workplace.

What benefits do union workers get?

Union members in a bargaining unit work together to negotiate and enforce a contract with management that guarantees the things you care about like decent raises, health care benefits, pensions, job security, a reliable schedule, and more.

Can anyone join a union?

You have a legal right to join a union and it is illegal for an employer to threaten you or discipline you for trying to organizing a Union or disadvantage you in some way because you are a union member. Some unions may have restrictions on who can join but this is usually because they represent people in specialist jobs. Workers in some industries (agricultural workers, for example) are legally not able to join Unions for various reasons and some positions (managerial, for example) may not be allowed to join either.

What happens if the employer challenges our vote?

Sometimes employers try anything they can to prevent their employees from starting a Union. This means they might challenge the signed cards of support or they might challenge a vote result by saying, for example, that some of the workers who voted shouldn’t be part of the bargaining unit.

If this happens, UFCW Locals 175 & 633 has the financial and legal resources to fight for your win and ensure your voices are heard.

Why do people join unions?

Nearly 30% of Canadian workers – about 4 million people – belong to unions. People wouldn’t join Unions if there weren’t important benefits to be had as a member. The bottom line in an organizing drive often comes down to wages, benefits, and job security. Union representation can lead to higher wages, better health care, pensions, job security, more equality at work, and more.

What are Union dues and why do I have to pay them?

Union members pay Union Membership Fees, also called Dues. It’s the only way the Union can function. But no one would join a Union if it didn’t provide benefits that far outweigh the cost of those Union dues! At UFCW Locals 175 & 633, the money from your Membership Fees is spent on providing the best service to you.

At UFCW Locals 175 & 633 your Union Membership Fees go toward providing these services:

  • Grievance handling & Arbitration hearings.
  • Legal Counsel representation at hearings and in negotiations.
  • WSIB Specialists to help members who are injured at work get the compensation they deserve.
  • Full-time Union Representation to enforce your collective agreement, handle grievances and lead negotiations for you and your elected negotiating committee.
  • Free educational courses and the opportunity for post-secondary scholarships.
  • Health & Safety Specialists to ensure your workplace is the safest and healthiest environment possible.
    And much more!

New members of UFCW Locals 175 & 633 who join as a result of an organizing campaign don’t pay Union Membership Fees until after the Union has negotiated and you and your co-workers have ratified your first collective agreement. That contract must be ratified by more than 50% of the workers who attend the vote. That means no one in a newly Organized workplace pays Membership Fees until you are satisfied with the improvements made in the wages, benefits, working conditions, and hours of work.

Remember, being a Union member pays you back in wages, benefits, pensions and more! Plus, your Membership Fees are tax deductible!

Each Union sets its own formula for collecting Membership Fees.

Union Membership Fees for UFCW Local 175 are calculated using the following formula:


Example: If you make $17.00 per hour, your weekly Union Membership Fees are calculated as .6 times $17.00, plus 25 cents, which equals $10.45 per week.

And remember, your Union dues are tax deductible.

How many employees are needed to form a union?

A bargaining unit can be as small as two people and can get to be as big as thousands of workers. In Ontario, to successfully bring a Union into your workplace:

  • At least 40% of the workers in the proposed bargaining unit need to sign a union card of support.
  • Once your Organizing Team is happy with the number of signed cards, the Union will make an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (ORLB).
  • The ORLB will then schedule a secret ballot vote where workers will be asked to vote.
  • If 50% + 1 of the secret ballot votes are in favour of the Union, the OLRB will certify the Union.

Learn more about the Steps to Join the Union.

Can an employer refuse to negotiate with a union?

When you and your co-workers are members of a union, your employer is legally obligated to bargain with the union in good faith. This means the employer must come to the bargaining table ready to make improvements, otherwise the union will ask the Ontario labour board to intervene.

Why join UFCW Locals 175 & 633?

  • By joining UFCW Locals 175 & 633, you will gain the power to negotiate with your employer to secure a collective agreement that ensures you get good pay, better benefits, and respect on the job.
  • Without a union, the employer makes promises but does not have to follow through, and they can fire you without reason. In a non-union workplace, the employer decides who deserves a raise, and how much. The employer decides who gets the best shifts and the most hours. The employer alone decides all of your working conditions – from holidays to production levels, and more.
  • With UFCW Locals 175 & 633 representing you, you will enjoy significant advantages over your non-unionized counterparts, including a safer and fairer workplace, better pay and benefits, more work-life balance, regular wage increases, and more.
  • With UFCW Locals 175 & 633 in your corner, you have the strength and resources of a large Local Union and its 70,000 members across the province. With that support and a good collective agreement, you’ll be able to build a better life for you and your family.

If you want to learn more about how UFCW Locals 175 & 633 can help improve your workplace, reach out to our Organizers at, at 1-800-565-8329, or through any of our social media accounts. Find out more about how our Union can help you!

What happens when you unionize?

Every union organizing drive starts with a first call, text, or email to our Organizing Team. During the drive, our Organizing Team and one or more of your co-workers will speak to employees outside of work to discuss the benefits of joining the Union, answer questions, and ask them to sign union cards.

There are two different systems for workers to organize themselves into a union: automatic certification and a representation vote.

Automatic certification, also called Card Check Certification, means that once a certain number of workers sign union cards, the workplace is automatically unionized. This is currently the law in Quebec and for federally regulated workers.Some labour boards also have the power to automatically certify the union in cases where an employer has violated the rights of employees.

In a representation vote certification, which is the most common type of organizing drive for Ontario workers, the union will also collect signed Union cards from employees. Once at least 40% of the employees have signed cards, the Union then submits an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). The ORLB can then schedule a government-supervised secret ballot vote. If 50% + 1 of the vote are in favour of the union, the OLRB will issue a certificate to the Union as the official bargaining agent for the workers.

Once the Union is certified, you are assigned a Union Representative who will work with you and your elected Union Negotiating Committee to draw up proposals for your first collective agreement so that bargaining can begin.

What is the process to join UFCW Locals 175 & 633?

You and your colleagues contact our Organizing Team who will go over the process of how to join the Union with you. All inquiries and coversations with our Team are confidential.

Our Organizers will walk you through the steps, give you tips on how to bring up the conversation with co-workers, and show you how to sign a union card.

An organizing drive can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to months. Factors that might affect the length of the drive include the size of the proposed bargaining unit, the types of shifts and departments and how easy it is to contact workers across the entire workplace, employer interference, and other issues that may arise.

It’s important to stay strong and united. Make sure you keep speaking to your co-workers, building your campaign, and strengthening your committee and support throughout the process.

  • At least 40% of the workers in the proposed bargaining unit need to sign a union card of support.
  • Once your Organizing Team is happy with the number of signed cards, the Union will make an application to the Ontario Labour Relations Board (ORLB).
  • The ORLB will then schedule a secret ballot vote where workers will be asked to vote.
  • If 50% + 1 of the secret ballot votes are in favour of the Union, the OLRB will certify the Union.

Our Organizers are here to support you each step of the way. From educating employees about the benefits of unions to collecting signed union cards, our Team will help you build support in the workplace and successfully unionize your workplace. If you have questions or are ready to get started, contact our Organizing Team! All conversations, texts, emails, and chats with our Organizers are confidential.


What is a Union?

A labour union is a group of two or more employees who join together to advance common interests such as wages, benefits, schedules and other employment terms and conditions. Workers who are represented by unions have a powerful voice that strengthens their ability to negotiate with their employer to achieve improvements like higher wages, health insurance, vacation days, paid sick leave, a pension, and more. Workers also pursue other enhancements such as flexible scheduling, protections against harassment, and safer working conditions which all contribute to a better quality of work-life and the well-being of workers.

Unions are membership-driven, democratic organizations governed by laws that require financial transparency and integrity, fair elections, and fair representation of all workers.

What is collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is the process for an organized group of workers (“labour”) and their employer (“management”) to pursue mutual agreement over workplace issues. The results of this bargaining, also called negotiations, are contained in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The CBA is a legally enforceable written contract between a union representing a group of employees (“bargaining unit”) and an employer in a workplace.

I need to change my address, who do I contact?

You should update your address with your Union, your employer, AND any health and/or pension benefit provider as well. Please reach out to your Union Representative to find out how to contact your benefit plans and send us an email at to update your address with your Union.

What do Unions do?

Unions build worker power by helping members stand together for better wages, fair benefits, safe and healthy workplaces, reliable work hours, and much more. Unions also help workers gain more rights and power in their workplace.

Outside of the workplace, the gains made by Unions at the bargaining table help strengthen communities by winning higher pay and benefits for members living in those communities who can then put money back into the local economy. UFCW Locals 175 & 633 also strives to improve human rights, workers’ rights, and equality for all people through community involvement and lobbying at all levels of government.

Many things that were first won by workers and their unions are now enjoyed by all workers today including: minimum wage, overtime pay, health and safety standards, maternity and parental leave, vacation pay, protection from discrimination and harassment, and much more.

What is the difference between a public and private sector union?

Generally speaking, a public sector union represents employees who work in the public sector. This might include: government services and public administration, teachers, social service workers, some healthcare workers, firefighters, sanitation workers, police officers, outdoor workers, and more.

A private sector union – like UFCW Locals 175 & 633 – represents employees who work for private sector companies. This includes grocery stores, drugstores, food manufacturing companies, hotels, breweries, rental car agencies, beverage producers, restaurants, retail cannabis stores, and more. You can meet some of our members and they sectors they work in here. [link to Who We Are/Members]

There are also some instances where a private sector union represents employees working in the public sector, and vice versa.

Why are Unions important?

Over the years, unions and the labour movement have led the fight for a strong public health care system, injured workers’ compensation, occupational health and safety laws, stronger human rights legislation, the expansion of public education, pay equity, employment equity, and more. Unions also fight for better job security, higher wages, good working conditions in each and every collective agreement.

Unions are democratic organizations. Our Local Union Executive Boards for Local 175 and Local 633 are each comprised of a President, a Secretary-Treasurer, a Recorder, and Vice-Presidents. The Executive Boards are elected by the Membership and any member in good standing can run for a position on the Executive Board when elections come up. The Executive Board is responsible for managing the local unions’ funds and providing direction and feedback to the Local Union leadership. Further, Unions ask their members to vote on important decisions like steward elections, strike mandates, negotiations proposals, the ratification of collective agreements, and more.

Union members often say that the main value of their union contract is protection against unjust decisions by management, discriminatory discharges, pay cuts, and arbitrary increases to workloads. Union staff and stewards help protect members by policing the union contract. This ensures that the employer obeys the law and holds up their side of the collective agreement. Members should inform the union about any problems or concerns they may have. Find your Union Representative here, send us an email, or call 905-821-8329 / 1-800-565-8329.

How does the union provide information to its members?

Our Local Unions take the concerns of our membership seriously. We hold quarterly general membership meetings [link] to inform members of what’s going on, provide updates, financial statements, and more.

UFCW Locals 175 & 633 has a website, a regular e-news (sign up here!), and social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube that all provide information updates and resources to members.

The Union publishes posters and pamphlets covering work-related topics which can be found here on the website in the Download Resources section, through your Union Rep, or on your Union bulletin board at work. In fact, your Union bulletin board in the workplace is a good place to start when looking for information. This is where you’ll find postings for meetings or other information specific to your workplace.

Your Union Stewards and Representatives are there to help protect members by enforcing your collective agreement. To make sure your Union knows about problems that arise at work, Members should help keep their Stewards & Reps informed by letting them know if something happens, if there is a health and safety concern, or if the employer is not abiding by the collective agreement.

What makes a good Union?

A good union is accountable to its members, and a proud and consistent advocate for all working people through negotiating and enforcing good collective agreements, ensuring health and safety in the workplace, lobbying to strengthen workers’ rights and human rights, and working hard to ensure that all members are treated with dignity and respect on the job.

How do I find my Union Rep?

Find your UFCW Locals 175 & 633 Union Rep by using our search feature on the homepage or by contacting the Union in one of the following ways:

What are my rights as a Union worker?

As a unionized worker who is a member at UFCW Locals 175 & 633, you have the right to:

  • Have a Union Steward present at any discipline meeting with your employer.
  • Just Cause protection, which means you cannot be fired without a justifiable reason.
  • File a grievance (formal complaint) if the employer violates a part of your collective agreement.
  • Have input on bargaining for your collective agreement.
  • Vote on your contracts and Union bylaws and policies, and participate in Union meetings.
  • Benefit from the provisions of your collective agreement and know the Union will hold your employer accountable.

What is my role in the Union?

Rank-and-file members are the backbone of any Union and your voice is important. Your role in the Union is to be active and aware.

  • At work, keep an eye out for health & safety hazards and violations of your collective agreement.
  • Speak to your co-workers about Union matters and attend Union meetings.
  • Run for Steward positions, become a Health & Safety Certified Member, or even run for the Local Union Executive Board.
  • Remain united during difficult times such as during bargaining or a strike.
  • Submit proposals when it comes time to negotiate a renewal agreement.
  • Always come to cast your vote at any ratification meetings; and,
  • Support other Unionized workers on strike and Shop Union whenever you can.

What is a Union Steward?

A Union Steward is one of your co-workers who volunteers their time to help employees with issues that arise at work. Depending on the size of your workplace, you might have one Steward or you might have a number of Stewards.

Your Steward(s) assists your Union Representative. Your Union Rep is a full-time staff member at the Union who deals with grievances, arbitrations, negotiations, and much more. Find out more about the role of a Union Steward here.

What is seniority and how does it work?

Seniority is an important part of being a Union member. Your seniority is usually based on your hire date – and sometimes it can come down to the minute you were hired too.

Most often, seniority relates to job postings, overtime, and layoffs. Employees with more seniority – and the ability to perform a job – who apply to job openings at the workplace should receive those jobs. Often, overtime will be offered by seniority as well. Layoffs generally happen by reverse seniority. It can also play a role in vacation requests.

Each collective agreement will detail how and when your seniority is determined and how seniority affects different parts of your working life. So, familiarize yourself with what seniority means at your workplace and if you have any questions or concerns, speak to your Union Steward or contact your Union Rep.

What are the costs associated with a Union?

As a Union member you will pay a small amount in Union Membership Fees on a regular basis. The current formula for weekly fees at UFCW Locals 175 & 633 is:

  • Multiply your hourly rate by .6, then add 25 cents.

    So, for example, if you make $17 per hour, your fee would be calculated as:
    17.00 x .6 + 0.25 = $10.45 per week

When a Unionized employer hires you, there is usually a one-time enrollment fee. At UFCW Locals 175 & 633 that amount is $25 for part-time, and $40 for full-time. If you are part-time, the $25 is usually broken down over several paycheques.

And remember, the Membership Fees you pay to the Union are tax deductible.

Want to read more about where the money from your Membership Fees goes? Read about the reasons to join the Union!