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Questions about Unionizing

What is a Union?

• A Union is formed when any group of employees decides they would rather bargain their work terms and conditions as a group rather than individually. That group approaches a known Union such as Teamsters Local 464 seeking certification. The Union circulates membership cards for employees to sign and then the Union files those cards along with an application for certification at the appropriate labour board (either the British Columbia Labour Relations Board or the Canada Industrial Labour Board).

How do Teamsters decide which businesses to organize?

• Teamsters Local Union No. 464 never tries to organize a group of employees unless the employees themselves express an interest in joining the Union. You have to approach the Union and ask us to be your collective bargaining representative.

How would a Union become our collective bargaining representative?

• If at least 45% of you at your workplace sign authorization cards, a petition can be filed with the Labour Relations Board for a representation election. But a majority of those voting (50% + 1 vote) must vote for Union representation before a Union can become your collective bargaining representative.

Why should I be interested in the Teamsters Union?

• The Teamsters Union believes that all working people are entitled to decent wages which enable an adequate standard of living, job security and dignity on the job. No employee should have to put up with unfair treatment or unsafe working conditions. The Teamsters Union does not tell your employer how to run his organization, only how you, the employees, should be treated – with dignity and respect.

What can the Teamsters Union do for me?

• Teamsters will protect you from your employer’s arbitrary decisions. Our mission, as a Union, is to ensure the respect of our members with regard to opportunities for advancement as well as vacation, wages etc. As a result the days when bosses used to make decisions without any consideration for their employees are now gone.


What does a Truck Drivers’ Union have in common with employees in other occupations?

• The Teamsters Union represents workers in every conceivable profession, craft and trade, in public, as well as in private industry. This Union is no longer only a truck drivers’ Union, as less than one-fourth of the total members are in this classification.

I heard some Unions are corrupt.

• Teamster leaders come from jobs just like yours. The vast majority of these leaders are decent, hardworking individuals who are interested in helping and improving members’ lives. Yes, there have been examples of dishonest officials who broke the law or ethical codes and those individuals have been barred from the Union. Businesses and government organizations face the same challenges.

Teamsters Local 464 has a reputation of providing workers with honest, professional and progressive representation.

What about initiation fees and dues?

• There are no initiation fees during an organizing drive and you start paying dues only after negotiations and after a contract has been approved and ratified by YOU. You start paying dues only after we have shown what we can do for you. Dues equal 2.5 times your hourly wage plus two dollars per month [for the Teamsters Canada strike fund].

Isn’t the Union interested only in getting our money?

• Your employer pays a lawyer to look after his legal interests or an insurance company to protect the organization’s assets. Organizing employees and negotiating and administering a contract takes money. You pay dues to defray the costs of representing you and guaranteeing your job security in a written contract. In return, you gain more in wages, benefits and job security than the amount of dues you pay.

What about strikes?

• Contrary to what your employer may tell you, the Union cannot force you to go on strike. In fact, the Teamsters Union does not advocate strikes. More than 97% of all Teamster contracts are negotiated without a strike.  

Who runs the Teamsters Union?

• YOU do! You have the vote that brings the Union in. You tell the Union the demands you want negotiated into your contract. You have the vote to ratify that contract. You have the vote that decides if you go out on strike. Every five years you have the vote that determines who you want as Officers in your Local Union.

How democratic are Unions?

• The whole process is open and democratic. You decide if you want to sign an authorization card. You decide whether or not to vote "yes" on joining the Union. You decide which co-workers you want on your negotiating team. You decide what to tell your negotiators that you want in a contract. You vote on the contract once it's negotiated. You vote on who will be your Shop Steward. You vote on who will be the Officers of your Local.

What is a Joint Council?

• A Joint Council is an entity that co-ordinates the activities of Local Unions within your Province or your region.

What is a Local Union?

• Locals are the backbone of the Union. The Local Union is an autonomous entity governed by the Constitution and its own regulations. It is comprised of Officers [Secretary-Treasurer, President, Vice-President, Recording-Secretary etc. ] Business-Representatives and staff members. Because of its autonomy, its Officers can make decisions that are best for its Local’s members.

What is a Shop Steward?

• Elected by coworkers, the Shop Steward is the spokesperson chosen to act as liaison between the members, the Local Union, and the company. The Shop Steward intervenes when there is any violation of the Collective Agreement. The Shop Steward is the voice of his or her coworkers.

I would like to talk to someone about having the Teamsters in my workplace, who do I contact?

• To get started you can contact one of our business-representatives or e-mail

What if I was already a Teamster member with another local?

• You will be eligible to transfer from one local to another for a transfer fee that will be requested by the Local when they receive your application to join the Union.


For even more information on our Union and Organizing go to How to Form a Union.


For 35 years I have been a Teamster and a Dairyworker, I was a young kid needing a job in tough economic times. I found a place to work and make a living, I learned to work together with others having varying and different backgrounds than my own.

Much has changed for me personally and professionally, I got married to my beautiful wife of almost 25 years and we have raised two amazing children, both of whom are presently studying abroad. Both of my children were recipients of Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Funding.

So much of my success I can credit to having a well paying union job. The Teamsters have been a great union for me, negotiating strong collective agreements that held good wage and benefit packages as well as the cornerstone beliefs of seniority and workers’ rights. The Teamsters gave me a good wage and a voice.

I have always been an active Teamster, and now I sit on Local 464's Executive Board.

There can be a great degree of personal feelings when the word union is mentioned, but so often I look at professional associations and realize the name may be different, but the thought is the same...strength in numbers.

As I get toward the end of my career, I look forward to the thought of receiving the Teamsters Canada Pension Plan, and I am so grateful for the belief others had before me that Teamsters deserved a good and decent retirement...thank you.


- Drew Speirs

"I was a Shop Steward and was also on the contract negotiation team. The Union took the time and trouble to learn all about our industry and what we do. This means they are better able to fight for us whether it is on the job or at the bargaining table. We have the best contract in our industry. Thanks guys!"

- Gerald Price - Agrifoods
- Dave S