The food service industry is a fast growing and changing sector. Workers United members are working for food service providers at various workplaces, such as retirement homes, post-secondary school campuses, manufacturing facilities, and government offices. Workers United members in the food service sector have negotiated contracts that include better wages, benefits and pension plans.
These days, most food service for schools, nursing homes and factories is contracted out to one of three large multi-service companies: Sodexho, Compass or Aramark. The way to gain improvements to working conditions and wages for workers in this industry is to work together, across workplaces, to demand better for workers and their families.
Workers United represents numerous social service workers in many diverse fields such as childcare, immigrant services, housing, harm reduction, mental health and recovery, developmental services, community development, language instruction for newcomers, home support work, youth employment services, family and women’s shelters and support services for seniors.
Social service workers are constantly striving to help improve the lives of others. By forming a union, social service workers improve their own working lives, ensuring job postings, scheduling and hours, and overtime are done fairly.
The social service sector faces many challenges including:
- Chronic underfunding by all levels of government
- A reliance on part-time, casual, relief or contract positions as a result of funding shortfalls
- Significant health and safety risks
- Increasing competition with for-profit services
Workers United advocates for greater funding and works with government agencies to ensure the voices of social service workers are heard. Through collective bargaining, part-time and casual jobs have become permanent positions, with benefits and pensions. Health and Safety committee are active in all Workers United workplaces, ensuring safety risks are being addressed and solutions discussed.
Restaurants and Hotels
Hotel and restaurant workers are Workers United members from Niagara Falls, Ontario to Thompson, Manitoba. We represent over 1,000 hotel, restaurant, and gaming workers in the Niagara Region alone. Hotel workers face a number of challenges specific to their work; they are often asked to lift heavy mattresses, clean more rooms than possible in an 8-hour shift, and use toxic chemical cleaners. Workers United is making hotel jobs better, safer and healthier, through strong collective bargaining and comprehensive membership training.
Restaurant cooks, servers, and hostesses have joined Workers United to solve workplace problems. Tip-sharing is often an issue for restaurant workers; without a union, restaurant owners and management unfairly take a percentage of gratuities, leaving servers with only a portion of the tips they earned. This is unfair. Workers United members in the restaurant industry have successfully bargained to keep 100% of their gratuities. With a union, restaurant owners and managers cannot simply take tips earned by servers.
Laundry and Cleaning
Uniforms, towels, and shop rags often require specialty laundry services. From large industrial machines to smaller detailed laundry services, Workers United members work in the laundry industry across Canada and the United States from colleges and factories to retirement homes. Health and safety for laundry workers has been a long fought struggle for workers in this industry and being part of Workers United has helped bring laundry workers together to demand safer working standards.
Cleaning service is often under-appreciated and invisible work, with people working through the nights to clean schools and office buildings. Having a union for cleaners has meant winning fair pay, better working conditions and appreciation for the demanding work cleaners do every day.
When apparel, shoes, housewares, mattresses and bedding are manufactured, they are shipped to distribution centres for sorting, packing and loading, to be delivered to retail stores across Canada.
We represent thousands of distribution workers including Winners and HomeSense workers in both Brampton and Mississauga, Ontario. Winners is an example of a strong Canadian company with a growing workforce and we have worked hard to ensure that its workers are getting their fair share of the company’s growth.
Companies also often contract out their distribution to ‘third party’ distribution or logistics companies. Workers United has successfully organized unions at companies like these, which are tied to well-known brand names such as American Eagle.
Workers United distribution centre members are making their working lives better by negotiating strong contracts and fighting for a better working life.
Apparel and Textile Manufacturing
For over 100 years, our union has fought for the rights of textile and apparel workers. We have made significant gains in creating safer and healthier workplaces, negotiated higher piece rates and hourly wages, and increased awareness about the potential hazards associated with textile work. From the textile mills in the Southern United States to sewing shops in Manitoba, Workers United members are working hard to make the clothes we wear.
Workers United members make wedding gowns, down-filled winter jackets, custom men’s suits, sports team uniforms and much more.
The lid on your coffee cup or plastic molding on your car door may have been made by Workers United members. Canada is home to many plastics and auto parts manufacturers, and Workers United represents thousands of workers in this sector.
Bargaining for safe and healthy workplaces has been a priority in this sector and for our union for years; many Workers United members working at plastics and auto parts manufacturing jobs take part in Health and Safety training through the union and participate on Health and Safety committee in their individual workplaces.
The retail industry is known for low wages, lack of benefits, and part-time hours. Workers United fights for better wages and working conditions in the retail sector. Having a union at your retail store means a connection to the rest of the company you work for.
Winners and HomeSense retail stores in Saskatchewan are represented by Workers United. For years, workers at the Saskatoon and Prince Albert stores have been bargaining better wages, working conditions, and an end to unfair rules.
A union for retail workers means a fair system for scheduling, fair wage increases, health benefits and access to training opportunities!
There has been substantial growth in nursing homes, long-term care facilities and assisted living services as Canada's population continues to age. On the forefront of these industries are Home Care Workers, Personal Support Workers and Registered Nurses who work hard everyday to make sure that seniors (or others) receive the proper care and treatment they deserve. Healthcare professionals work in both public and privately run facilities as well as in people's private residences.
Workers United has been working to ensure that healthcare workers are being properly and fairly compensated and that working conditions are raised to ensure a better standard of care for both healthcare professionals and their clients.
Workers United is the first union in North America to represent fitness workers. Our growing membership includes over 600 GoodLife Fitness personal trainers in Toronto, Ajax, and Peterborough. Our fitness workers are passionate about fairness and improving the working conditions in their sector. Visit our Fitness Professional's Union website for more information.