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Employment & Labour

Labour changes will improve union organization: Zeilikman

Recent changes to Ontario’s labour laws will make it easier for unions to reach out to employees, Vaughan labour and employment lawyer Arthur Zeilikman tells The Lawyer’s Daily.

Zeilikman, principal of Zeilikman Law, tells the online legal publication that a section added to the Labour Relations Act now allows trade unions to ask the Ontario Labour Relations Board for an order directing employers to provide the union with a list of employees.

“If the union is able to establish 20 per cent membership in the proposed bargaining unit then the employer would have to provide an employee list. It would set out the names of each employee in the proposed bargaining unit as well as a phone number or email. So the bottom line is if you’re able to show that 20 per cent membership support for the bargaining unit then you’re able to eventually get information for all the employees in the bargaining unit as a union and then you’ll be able to contact them to organize better,” Zeilikman explains.

He tells AdvocateDaily.com that if the employee has provided his work with an email address and phone number, the employer is obligated to pass that along to the union. 

“The takeaway is that over the course of the next few months employees falling within the jurisdiction of the contemplated legislation will see a significant increase in their rights and employers will see a corresponding increase in obligations that go beyond a simple increase in minimum wage,” he adds.

The article notes that changes to the Employment Standards Act include a rise in minimum wage to $14 an hour; allowing 10 days of personal emergency leave per year for all employees; and three weeks' paid vacation after five years of service with the same employer.

The minimum wage will be increased again on Jan. 1, 2019 to $15 per hour.

“As premier, the most important part of my job is listening to the people of Ontario. When we make changes to legislation and regulations, it’s about responding to real concerns from people in every corner of our province,” Premier Kathleen Wynne said in a statement.

“It’s all part of our work to make Ontario a fairer and better place to live. We want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to get ahead in this changing economy,” Wynne says.

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