The Canadian Industrial Relations Code covers you if you work in the following industries:

  • Banking
  • Marine Shipping
  • Ferry and Port Services
  • Air Transportation, including Airports, Aerodromes and Airlines
  • Railway
  • Road Transportation that involves crossing provincial or international borders
  • Canals
  • Pipelines
  • Tunnels and Bridges (crossing provincial borders)
  • Telephone, Telegraph and Cable Systems
  • Radio and Television Broadcasting
  • Grain Elevators
  • Feed and Seed Mills
  • Uranium Mining and Processing
  • Businesses dealing with the protection of Fisheries as a natural resource
  • Many First Nation activities
  • Most Federal Crown Corporations

The Alberta Labour Relations Code covers anyone not working in the industries listed above.  Please see the Joining a Union in Alberta section if you do not work in the industries listed above.

Five Steps to Joining a Union in the Federal Sector:

  1. Workers contact the union and meet with a union organizer.
  2. Workers sign cards applying for membership in the union, and authorizing the union to represent them in negotiations with their employer. Federal labour law requires the union to collect $5.00 from each worker when they sign a membership card.
  3. If at least 35% of the workers sign membership cards, the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) will hold a vote to see if workers want a union.  If more than 50% of the workers sign membership cards, the CIRB can certify the union without holding a vote – Go to step 5.  In some cases, the CIRB will hold a vote when more than 50% of the workers sign cards – Go to step 4.
  4. The CIRB holds a secret ballot vote.  Anyone who is in the bargaining unit the union applied to represent can vote. If the majority, 50%+1, of workers who cast ballots vote to unionize, the union is certified.
  5. The union will serve notice to your employer to begin bargaining your first contract.

The local certification process is confidential.  Employers are not entitled to know who signed cards.  Votes are held by secret ballot.

If you need more information on joining a union in the Federal sector please visit:

If you are interested in joining a union please contact:

The Alberta Federation of Labour
Phone: 1-800-661-3995

The Building Trades of Alberta
Edmonton:  780-421-9400
Calgary: 403-279-9500

Disclaimer information:

The information on Joining a Union in the Federal sector has been gathered from the Canadian Union of Public Employees website.