How to Join Unifor

  • All workers in Canada have a fundamental legal right to join a union. If you and your fellow Team Members are ready to form a union, you would first get in touch privately with a Unifor organizer to discuss the issues at work. Team Members receive a digital or physical card to sign indicating that they are ready to form a union.

    Ontario law requires a minimum 40% of Team Members must sign cards before Unifor can apply to the Ontario Labour Relations Board, a neutral government body, for certification. 

    The labour board then conducts a vote. If the majority of those voting agree that they want a union (a majority measured by a vote result of at least ‘50% plus 1’), the board will certify the union as the employees' representative. This means that the company is legally obliged to recognize the union and bargain with its members. 

    Step-by-Step Process:

    Step 1. Signing your card

    Toyota Team Members can sign either a physical or a virtual electronic card to join the union. The employer will never know if you have signed a card and the process is completely confidential.

    Step 2. Filing for certification

    Once enough Toyota Team Members have signed a card, Unifor can file an application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board to initiate a vote.

    Step 3. Voting for your union

    Team Members then vote by secret ballot to certify the union drive. Recently, due to COVID, these votes have been held online with a secure PIN provided to each person, making it easy to vote from anywhere. A simple majority of 50% plus one is needed to win the vote and certify the union.

    Step 4. Bargaining your first contract

    In Unifor, everyone is a part of the bargaining process. All Team Members are surveyed on your priorities first. Team Members then elect a bargaining committee to start the process of negotiating a first Collective Agreement with the Employer. The agreement generally includes everything from the duration of the contract to wages, health and safety, job security, workload, benefits and pensions, work scheduling and job bidding rules, grievances, holidays, and more. All Team Members then vote on the agreement. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voting can be done securely online. Once voted on, the agreement is ratified; the employer is legally bound to the terms of the agreement as decided on by Team Members.

    No one pays any union dues until this contract is ratified.

    Step 5. Electing your union representatives

    As members of Unifor, Team Members are assigned to a local union and can begin the process of electing your union representatives from your workplace. Your newly elected union representatives will get to work immediately and have the support of your local union, Unifor national staff and resources at every step.

    Note: For workplaces governed under The Canada Industrial Relations Board, a majority of Team Members must sign cards and pay a $5 fee.

    We will work with you during the entire process. Unifor has experienced organizers that can go over the details with you. Contact a Unifor organizer today.

  • No.

    When cards are submitted to the Labour Board, an official of the Board checks the signatures against a company-provided sample of employee signatures in order to verify that the union has legitimately signed up most employees. The company will never find out who has signed a card. The information is completely confidential and not released by the Labour Board.

  • Yes.

    Employers cannot prohibit you from discussing the union provided the conversation is within the usual range of social interaction that is allowable in the workplace. However, discussion about the union, or signing union cards, cannot interfere with anyone getting their work done. If you are in doubt, you can always err on the side of caution and keep it to the break room.

  • No, this is illegal.

    In our experience, most companies are sophisticated enough not to resort to intimidation. However, company lawyers will advise managers to make statements that spark fears about strikes or tough bargaining by the employer. While it is illegal for any company to fire or penalize an employee who wants to form a union, most employees feel more comfortable if union organizing occurs without the company's knowledge. The company will find out if the organizing drive is successful since the labour board will order a vote.

  • Unions are organizations by the workers, for the workers, so it really depends on what Team Members want, and what we can negotiate with the company. You and all Toyota Team Members at your plant determine your own priorities, and negotiations will reflect that. Once you have formed a union, you will select a bargaining committee consisting of democratically elected Team Members at your workplace who will work with a professional Unifor staff representative as well as the union’s in-house experts, including in research, pension, legal and health and safety. You will identify priorities for what you would like to get in your contract through meetings and surveys.

    Members have the right to vote on any settlement that is reached, by secret ballot vote.

  • Yes.

    Even hard-nosed companies must comply with the law. Ontario labour law requires a company to bargain in good faith and make all reasonable efforts to reach a contract. The Ontario Labour Relations Board enforces that.

  • There are many reasons to join.

    To start with, your supervisor today may not be your supervisor tomorrow. Without a union contract, you have no guarantee that your wages and working conditions will not be undercut by a new manager or supervisor.

    Unions can provide dignity in the workplace by ensuring that the employee-employer relationship is not controlled by just one party. The best strength you and all Toyota Team Members can have is the strength you lend each other. If your supervisor genuinely respects you now, they will respect your right to choose a union. This choice will not damage a positive relationship but will in fact strengthen it.


  • Union dues are set at 1.35% of your gross monthly income, whether you work part-time or full-time. Bonuses, shift premiums and overtime are not included in this calculation and you do not pay dues when you are off on WSIB, leave of absence, maternity or parental leave, or sick leave.

    On average unionized auto workers have higher wages, more bonuses during contract negotiations, and enjoy better and more comprehensive benefits than Toyota workers. As a result of 2020 contract negotiations, unionized auto workers will receive a combined average of $21,000 more in total wage increases and bonuses from 2020-2023. That’s $7,000 more per year excluding improvements to benefits coverage, pensions, and other significant gains.

    Union dues are tax deductible.

    It doesn’t cost to be a member of Unifor. It pays!

  • Unifor is a non-profit organization that only receives money from members' dues. Union dues pay for:

    • Expert staff in health and safety, research, pensions and benefits, legal etc. so that we are well-equipped at the bargaining table.
    • Our meeting halls and offices so that we have our own places to gather, independent from our employers.
    • Educating our stewards/workplace reps, health and safety reps, activists and leaders so that they can be effective and strategic.
    • Holding our meetings and conventions (yes, there is a cost to democracy, but it’s worth it).
    • Communications – so we can make sure the voice of working people is heard in our communities, in the media, and with policymakers.
    • Helping more workers join our Union so that more workers can get the benefits of being part of a union. Our union is always stronger when more workers are organized.
    • A strike defense fund that allows the union to pool our resources so they are always available when needed during a labour dispute.
  • Unifor is a worker-run union. Each member has a fundamental say in what the union should do, by participating in debates, voting on contracts, and electing representatives or running for office.

    Bargaining units (in other words, each workplace) elect their own officers and manage their own affairs in accordance with By-laws and the Constitution of your Union. 

    Some examples of the positions members can run and vote for include:

    Stewards: These are front-line Team Members who are there as a point person to go to with questions and concerns. 

    Bargaining committee: These elected Team Members represent you in collective bargaining, and, along with the help of professional Unifor representatives, negotiate with the company on issues such as wages, benefits and working conditions. 

    Local officers: These roles include President, Vice-Presidents, Secretary and Treasurer. 

    Delegates: Delegates attend regional and national councils where we discuss union priorities, industry changes and strategies.