women in auto 2Harassment can be devastating for workers and their families, but it isn’t simply a personal problem. If it’s not dealt with properly, harassment in a workplace affects all workers. Whether it’s happening to you, to someone beside you, or to any of your co-workers, it creates stress, poisoned work environments, and inefficient workplaces due to absenteeism, lost time, employee turnover and decreased productivity.

Thankfully, unions have long been allies for women and other workers dealing with harassment at work. Here is an overview of some structures and processes we have negotiated in Unifor workplaces as a direct result of bargaining a collective agreement.

Workplace Harassment Policy: Having a policy in place in a legally binding collective agreement can be the fastest and simplest way to get the harassment to stop. However management doesn’t always live up to its obligation to provide a harassment-free workplace so it’s the union’s job to hold management accountable.

Anti-harassment Language: Includes a clear definition of harassment along with a complaint procedure with specific time limits and goals for resolving the complaint.

Joint Employment Equity Committee: This committee consists of an equal number of management and union representatives. Their role is to investigate any allegations of harassment and at the same time work together to pro-actively create a healthy, safe and respectful work environment through policy, training and education.

Workplace Equity Representatives: Their role is to promote equity in the workplace, work with community outreach initiatives, coordinate education efforts, assist with anti-harassment work and work with leadership and investigators to resolve difficult human rights complaints.

Women’s Advocate: Women’s Advocates are specially trained workplace representatives who assist women experiencing intimate violence and abuse. The Women’s Advocate is not a counselor but rather provides support and referrals for women while they are accessing community and workplace resources. These specially-trained, easy to contact workplace representatives have been instrumental in creating healthier workplaces and safer communities.

Health & Safety Reps: They support the Employment Equity Committee and the Women’s Advocate to ensure your rights are protected under Bill 168 on Violence and Harassment.

With a Unifor collective agreement, together we can build a safe and respectful workplace for everyone.

Questions? Comments? Email us confidentially or call the Toyota Unifor Women hotline at 1-800-268-5763 extension 8439 and let’s start the conversation.