Toyota Team Members need a voice
It’s time for Toyota Team Members to join Unifor
At a time when our economy is transforming rapidly and Canada’s auto industry is moving towards zero-emissions vehicle manufacturing, it’s time for you and all Toyota Team Members to have a say in your future.
Transformative investments of nearly $6 billion in Canada’s auto industry negotiated by Unifor in 2020-21 will help secure the future of the industry for years to come.
More than ever, auto sector jobs are threatened by unfair trade agreements, increasing competition and advancements in production technologies. You and all Toyota Team Members need a voice, a seat at the table, and the ability to advocate for your jobs, your rights and your future.
How to Join Unifor
How can I form a union?
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 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.
Will the company ever find out who has signed a card?
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.
Can I discuss the pros and cons of a union while at work?
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.
Is a company allowed to threaten or intimidate employees if it wants to stop unionization?
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.
What will be in our Collective Agreement?
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.
Does the company have to bargain fairly?
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.
Why should I join a union if my boss is treating me OK?
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.
What does it cost to belong to Unifor?
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!
Where do the union dues go?
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.
Who makes the decisions in your Union?
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.
How many auto workers does Unifor represent?
Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, with more than 315,000 members across the country, working in every major sector of the Canadian economy. The union’s membership includes more than 20,000 auto workers at Chrysler (now Stellantis), General Motors, and Ford. These workers can be found in factories, offices, and distribution facilities across Canada. It also includes more than 16,000 workers across Canada’s independent auto parts supplier industry.
How have unionized auto workers changed the industry?
For generations, unionized auto workers helped pave the way for many of the fundamental rights and protections all workers benefit from today. Auto workers’ have negotiated better safety protocols, decent wages, health and welfare benefits and retirement security, helping set new standards for employment in the industry and all across Canada.
How can Toyota Team Members make Toyota better?
Joining Unifor, Canada’s auto workers’ union, means you and all Toyota Team Members can build your local union, elect your union leadership, create a Made-for-Toyota Collective Agreement, and benefit from the union’s many resources.
- Improve wages and working conditions.
- Set rules for scheduling and overtime.
- Create a safer work environment with access to health and safety equipment, training and proper safety protocols, enforced by Team Member Health and Safety representatives.
- Provide job security and protection from random punitive actions by the employer.
- Demand respect and equality for all Team Members on the job.
What did Unifor auto workers negotiate in 2020 auto bargaining?
Unifor’s Historic Deal with Ford, FCA, and General Motors
What Unifor members at Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors accomplished was truly extraordinary. Every Detroit Three automaker committed funding for Unifor facilities for a combined total investment of nearly $6 billion backed by substantial funding from the governments of Ontario and Canada.
The funds will secure new electric vehicle production in Oakville and Windsor, along with the return of vehicle assembly to General Motors in Oshawa. These investments will stabilize the jobs of tens of thousands of Unifor members well beyond the life of the agreement and create thousands more.
Unifor members continue to set the standard for the industry while Toyota Team Members can only accept what’s given.
Compare your own situation at Toyota to what Unifor members received in the 2020 contract negotiations including considerable wage increases and bonuses, pension and benefits improvements, and new equity programs below.
Wages and bonuses
Year 1 (2020-21):
- Productivity and Quality bonus of $7,250.
- Wage increase of 2.5% (estimated value of $1,850).
Year 2 (2021-22):
- Lump sum payment of 4% of previous earnings (estimated value of $3,000).
- Inflation protection bonus of $2,000.
Year 3 (2022-23):
- Wage increase of 2.5% (estimated value of $3,750).
- Inflation protection bonus of $2,000.
- Combined value of “new money” negotiated (e.g. wage increases, bonuses and lump sum payments): estimated $21,000.
- Improved vision coverage, including for prescription lenses.
- Improved dental coverage.
- New glucose monitoring system coverage.
- Increases to annual orthodontics.
- Coverage for medical cannabis.
- Psychologist treatment benefits improved.
- Occupational therapy benefits for dependent children added.
- Dependent scholarship program expanded.
- Child care coverage expanded and increased.
- Group Life and Disability coverage improved.
- Pension plans with funding ratios of 127% (Chrysler), 125% (Ford), and 106% (General Motors).
- Pension plan design changes cannot be implemented unilaterally and changes can only be made when agreed to and voted on by the membership as part of the collective bargaining process.
- TMMC Team Members have no say over their pension plan
- TMMC Pension Plan is only funded only to 70%.
- TMMC’s Team Members do not have pension security and the plan is subject to changes by the employer at any time.
- Wage grid shortened from 10 years to 8 years.
- Base wage grid percentages improved at every step.
- Members will receive full base rate upon completion of 8th year of seniority.
- Members will begin accumulating Supplementary Unemployment Benefit credits after 3 years.
- Reinstated 5% afternoon and 10% midnight shift premiums.
- New hires eligible for the Legal Services Plan, upon completion of eighth year.
Health and safety
- Joint COVID-19 statement outlining successful collaborative efforts to prevent any outbreaks and communicate regularly with members at all Unifor facilities.
- Enhanced Workplace Environment Representative Training.
- Trauma and PTSD Training for Health and Safety Representatives.
- Increased annual safety shoe allowance.
- Recognition of Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace Standard.
- Advanced industrial hygiene training for Joint and Master Health and Safety Committee members.
- 10 days of Paid Domestic Violence Leave.
- Anti-racism action plan and introduction of a Racial Justice Advocate.
For complete details of contract improvements see the Ford bargaining summary, Chrysler bargaining summary, and General Motors summary.
What would union representation at Toyota look like?
Having a union means more than negotiating wages, benefits and working conditions. It’s about establishing a support network of elected representatives inside the workplace to enforce the collective agreement, to address worker concerns, to monitor health and safety, and to provide training and offer general support. In Unifor auto plants, there are dozens of negotiated representatives available to assist members every day, a team built over decades of contract negotiations. In virtually every round of bargaining, the union attempts to expand and broaden the scope of in-plant representation.
This is the fundamental role of the union. Negotiating a workplace structure at Toyota would enable you and all Toyota Team Members to help each other and improve your standard of living on and off the job.
The following are examples of the roles and responsibilities of unionised Toyota Team Members and what union representation could look like based on positions commonly found in Unifor-represented auto assembly plants.
- Union Steward: a union steward is elected by the members to represent their interests in each department, line or designated area in the plant. Elected Union Stewards engage with members on a daily basis. If there is a problem with overtime pay, an equipment malfunction or problem with a supervisor, for example, a member will inform their Steward who will promptly handle the issue on the members’ behalf.
- Area/District representatives: To support the work of Stewards, Team Members would also elect Area or District Representatives, Team Members who oversee all union business within a designated Area or District of the plant. The Area or District Representative is responsible for supporting the work of Union Stewards, and stepping in to assist if an issue cannot be immediately resolved. This includes assisting in the resolution of grievances filed by Team Members. Team Members in the Skilled Trades have access to a dedicated, elected District Representative that deals exclusively with trades-related issues.
- In-plant Committee: All Area or District Representatives (along with an elected Skilled Trades Chairperson) in a facility comprise the In-Plant Committee. Members of the In-Plant Committee meet regularly (oftentimes daily) to discuss Team Members’ issues throughout the plant. The In-Plant Committee makes sure Union Stewards and company Supervisors apply contract provisions consistently, in all Departments and Districts, including on job postings and vacancies, for instance.
- Plant Chairperson: The Plant Chairperson oversees the work of the In-Plant Committee, and is the top elected union official in the plant. The Chairperson (or “Chair”) is ultimately responsible for all union matters in the facility. The Chair engages directly with the Plant Manager and Company officials, and communicates all critical matters to Team Members. Each Unifor assembly facility has its own elected Plant Chairperson and In-Plant Committee.
- Health and Safety Representatives: A trained union Health and Safety Representative is available to assist Team Members in the plant on each shift. These representatives carefully monitor health and safety issues in the facility and offer proactive and preventative guidance to keep Team Members safe, wherever required. They also participate in the workplace Joint Health and Safety Committee, along with the Plant Chairperson. Union Health and Safety Representatives operate without fear of employer reprisal, providing they follow proper guidelines and protocols under law.
- Ergonomic Representatives: A union Ergonomic Representative is stationed in each facility and responsible for monitoring member issues on work practices, equipment usage (e.g. efficiency ratings on torque guns) and injury prevention. The Ergonomics Representative will bring major issues to the attention of the Plant Chairperson and will directly engage with the employer through a Joint Union-Management Ergonomics Committee.
- Time Study Representatives: The union Time Study Representative ensures Team Members are working at a pace that does not put their health and safety at risk. Automakers have extraordinary power to adjust and accelerate assembly line speeds, which can be detrimental to workers’ health. Time Study Representatives monitor the pace of work, rate jobs and raise concerns with company officials through the Joint Union-Management Time Study Committee.
- WSIB Representatives: The union WSIB Representative stationed in each plant offers dedicated support and guidance for Team Members injured on the job, and supports them in their application for government and employer-sponsored benefits.
- Placement Representatives: A union Placement Representative is standard in all Unifor-Detroit Three production facilities. These individuals assist Team Members seeking work reassignment and return-to-work accommodation following an injury, for example.
- Benefits Representatives: The union Benefits Representative operates in each plant and assists Team Members with questions related to health benefit eligibility as well as Employment Insurance claim support during periods of layoff.
- Equity Representatives: The in-plant union Equity Representative is responsible for workplace human rights issues, including bullying and racism. The Equity Representative assists union Team Members facing discrimination or a denial of basic rights and coordinates with company officials (through a Joint union-management Equity Committee) to resolve complaints and promote a harassment-free workplace.
- Employment Family Assistance Program (EFAP) Representatives: The union EFAP Representative assists workers and their family members who may be dealing with personal issues, including addiction, drug or alcohol abuse and mental health struggles. The EFAP Representative provides confidential referrals to appropriate counselling, community support as well as treatment and rehabilitation services.
- Grievance Coordinator: Union members in auto plants have access to a grievance procedure, which is a formal complaint system for alleged violations of the collective agreement. Typically, the union will assign a Grievance Coordinator to track grievances and ensure a timely resolution. The Grievance Coordinator may advise the Plant Chairperson and appropriate National Union Staff Representative whether a particular late-stage grievance warrants final stage arbitration.
- Environmental Representatives: The Environment Representative is responsible for monitoring the environmental impact of in-plant work practices and addressing waste, such as oil spills, leakages. Working collaboratively with company officials, the Environment Representative also monitors the proper storage, use and transportation of hazardous materials and provides regular reports to the Plant Chairperson and union membership.
- Women’s Advocate: The Women’s Advocate is a specially trained union member who assists women with concerns such as workplace harassment, intimate partner violence, and abuse. The Women’s Advocate is not a counselor but rather provides support for women accessing community and workplace resources.
- Racial Justice Advocate: The Racial Justice Advocate is a groundbreaking workplace representative in Canada, first negotiated during Unifor-Detroit Three auto talks in 2020. The Racial Justice Advocate is a union representative trained to assist fellow Team Members who are Black, Indigenous or People of Colour facing racism or harassment. This Advocate will work collaboratively with company officials to establish and implement a workplace Racial Justice Action Plan.