Richmond County workers voting on whether to join a union

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Up to 21 employees of Richmond County voted on Friday on whether to join the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union. (Angela MacIvor/CBC - image credit)
Up to 21 employees of Richmond County voted on Friday on whether to join the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union. (Angela MacIvor/CBC - image credit)

Municipal employees in Nova Scotia's Richmond County are being asked to decide whether they want to join a union.

The Nova Scotia Labour Board conducted a vote Friday at the county office in Arichat at the request of the Nova Scotia Government and Employees Union.

NSGEU president Jason MacLean said if a bargaining unit is created, it could include up to 21 inside and outside workers, including the administration, finance, public works and recreation departments.

"We do our process on not forcing anyone to come in a union, but that they actually need and want a union, so we believe that those two factors are in there," he said.

"We've got all the cards signed that we needed to proceed and we made application with the labour board and now here we go."

It's not known when the results will be available.

MacLean said if the vote is in favour of a union, the municipality could dispute whether some of the positions should be included in the bargaining unit.

Eric Woolliscroft/CBC
Eric Woolliscroft/CBC

"We could have this done in two weeks, or we could have it done in three months, depending if there's a dispute by the municipality themselves," he said.

The NSGEU already represents police in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and workers in Pictou County, so creating a bargaining unit in Richmond County should not be a problem, MacLean said.

The workers have a variety of reasons for indicating an interest in unionization, he said, but it's too soon to talk about what might be included in a contract.

"We have other collective agreements to draw upon and we would discuss the issues with the members on what their key issues are, do a survey with them, and then what we'd do is bring all their issues forward to the employer and work with the employer to foster a good workplace through the collective agreement," said MacLean.

He added that vacation, leave, and no-discrimination clauses would help protect workers and make it safe and enjoyable to work for the county.

"I think those are key provisions that make a workplace much more, to use a bad term, civilized, to where favourites aren't played on anyone, or everybody feels equal because everybody is covered equally by the collective agreement," he said.

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