Top five reasons why people join a union

1. Unionized workplaces are happier.

The most common reason people want a union is that there is something unfair about their workplace. A union means an end to inconsistent rules and favouritism. No wonder studies show that unionized employees are happier.

2. Union members have better pay.

Union members make $5.14/ hour more than non-unionized workers. With a union, you know when to expect a raise and how much it will be. This helps with planning your life and that of your family.

3. Jobs with Benefits

By forming a union you can negotiate a contract with benefits that are guaranteed in writing. Benefits like a health and dental plan, vacation pay, paid sick leave, a pension plan, training and overtime.

4. Job Security

With a union contract, you can stop favouritism, and challenge unfair discipline and dismissal. Your employer can only fire you with a good reason. Having a union also allows employees to have a say when cost-cutting, contracting-out, restructuring and other decisions are considered.

5. Safer workplaces

With a union, you and your co-workers will have the support you need to fix health and safety dangers in your workplace. The United Steelworkers are experts in workplace safety.


Being a Steelworker member is more than just exercising your rights and winning better pay – it is also an opportunity to expand your own skills. Our leadership programs train USW members on how to build power and negotiate with employers, become skilled health and safety representatives and even build leadership skills in the community too.  USW supports lifelong learning through scholarships for members, their children and grandchildren.

Know your rights

Steelworkers are trained in how to win safer working conditions, fight harassment at the workplace, and win fairer pay and benefits. We have organizers, negotiators, researchers, communications specialists and a legal team that help our members protect their rights.

If you think that your employer is breaking the law and you want to join a union to have a team on your side, sign up to join our union.

You and your co-workers have the right to:

  • Discuss the union at work during non-working hours
  • Distribute union information in non-work areas during non-working hours
  • Sign a USW membership card
  • Help fellow employees join your union
  • Participate in meetings to discuss joining your union

Your employer cannot:

  • Interfere with the formation, selection or administration of your union
  • Coerce or intimidate employees to stop them from joining your union
  • Discriminate against employees because of their activities in support of your union
  • Make promises like better pay or benefits to encourage employees to oppose your union
  • Threaten to close your workplace or lay people off if you form your union
  • Demand to know about your union support
  • Help anti-union employees to oppose your union
  • Spy on employees for the purpose of observing union activities

Employers cannot refuse to hire workers because of their race, religion, ethnic origin, skin colour, sex, age, marital status, disability, gender presentation or sexual orientation.

Employers or other workers cannot discriminate or make racist or offensive comments – this is harassment and against the law.

Employment standards are established by federal and provincial laws to guarantee minimum rights in the workplace. 

Areas covered by employment standards in your province may include:

  • Hours of work
  • Overtime pay
  • Minimum wage
  • Employees must be paid regularly
  • Employees must receive a statement showing wages and deductions
  • Public holidays
  • Compensation
  • Meal breaks
  • Paid vacation
  • Sick days
  • Pregnancy and parental leave
  • Personal emergency and family leaves

How to join a union

We believe every workplace can be better. How to join a union in Canada – five steps

Contact the USW for assistance. We have full-time staff dedicated to assist you and your co-workers. We can offer confidential advice and support.

After speaking with us, talk with some of your trusted co-workers. What do they want to see changed for the better at work? Are there company practices that aren’t fair? Does everyone feel safe?

If you find that there are common issues that you and your co-workers would like to see addressed, it might be time to build a “union organizing committee.” 

To build a majority (which will be needed to win), you and the team will ask your co-workers to sign union cards. Union cards are important because when enough cards are signed you can apply to the Labour Board to be officially certified as a union.

Your provincial Labour Board legally recognizes, or “certifies” unions, which may either include a card count or secret ballot vote. 

Now that you have formed your union and it has been officially certified by the Labour Board, you and your co-workers can get ready to negotiate your first contract, also called a collective agreement. Get in touch with us if you are interested in joining a union. The USW will be there with you every step of the way.

To contact us about joining the United Steelworkers union, you can call 1-877-669-8792 or fill out this easy form. You don’t have to fill out all the details below—just include your first name, the best way to reach you and your province or territory. None of the information you provide will be disclosed to anyone outside the union.

Contact our regional coordinators directly

Western and Northern Canada

Pablo Guerra
Tel: 1-888-879-2411


Mario Denis
Tel: 1-866-382-5567, ext. 2007

Ontario and Atlantic Canada

Darlene Jalbert
Tel: 1-888-508-8880, ext. 1225

Get in touch about joining

To learn more, use our confidential form to arrange a conversation with a USW organizer or call: 1-877-669-8792