When employees want to form a union in Nova Scotia there is a legally defined process to follow under the regulations of the Trade Union Act.
If you want to join a union, under Nova Scotia law you must show your desire to join by signing a union membership application. Your signature on the union membership application (often called a “union card”) must be witnessed by an authorized union representative. Contact NSUPE confidentially to get your union card.
Unless you tell others, neither your employer nor your co-workers will know you signed up with the union.
The only people who will know you signed up are: you, the union representative who witnessed your signature, the union lawyer, and the Labour Relations Board employees who process the application. Everyone but you is sworn to secrecy. After the Labour Relations Board scrutinizes the “union cards”, they will eventually be sent back to the NSUPE and placed in the Union’s files. The employer will never know whether you signed a card.
The Trade Union Act says unions must sign up at least 40% of employees in a workplace order to get the Labour Relations Board to hold a vote. A secret ballot vote will then be held and if more than 50% of voters cast votes in favour of unionizing, NSUPE will be certified to represent you. If less than 50% vote in favour of unionizing, things remain as they are and the union will destroy all evidence that shows who signed up.
For more information regarding the legal process to form a union or, about your rights and protections under the Trade Union Act, call the Labour Relations Board at 424-1744 or visit their web site www.gov.ns.ca/lae/labourboard/. This site has a link to the Nova Scotia Trade Union Act. In particular, read Section 23(1), (2) and (7); Section 25 (1 to 12), (14), (15), and (16); Section 13 (1); and Section 53 (1) and (3). These sections state the process for forming a union and your legal protections against employer influence.